Monday, August 15, 2011

Someone's Mother, Father, Mate, Sibling or Offspring

A soupy, soggy weekend -- or, as some might say, a "great day for ducks."
But, watching the ducks and few geese bobbing up and down in the Reservoir while the rain poured down on them yesterday, it didn't seem they enjoyed it all that much.
But, unlike us and dogs, at least the rain rolls off waterfowl's backs.
I had wanted to check the pond on the upper west side of Central Park yesterday to see if there were geese there.
But, when the steady rain turned to a downpour, I had to cancel that plan.
By the time my dogs and I made it home, we all looked like drowned rats.
I am still only seeing the one family of four geese on the entire north side of Central Park.
Granted, while there might be some geese at the pond, it is a very small watercourse and is usually not noted to have many, if any geese at all.
This low number of geese at Central Park is very concerning -- especially for this time of year.
In fact, I am not aware of any locations around NYC right now with a sizable population of geese.
There are a dozen or so geese being reported now at Inwood Park (one of the targeted sites for a goose roundup this year). There are between 20 and 35 geese at Prospect Park.  And someone reported "one goose" on the Hudson River the other day.
Hardly staggering numbers of geese anywhere -- or at least the areas that are being reported to us.
Moreover, virtually all the articles on geese these days pertain to the "early" and "expanded" hunting seasons on them conducted nationwide.
One state, South Dakota has already begun its hunting season on geese and is seeking to "reduce the population by 2/3rds."
If we think that the summer is the cruelest season for the geese, we need to think again. 
 It is true that thousands of geese and their babies are rounded up in summer from urban areas around the country and either gassed or sent to slaughter.  But, summer is nothing compared to the fall when hundreds of thousands of the birds are literally blown out of the skies.
In looking at the family of geese yesterday at the Reservoir -- Mama, Papa and their two surviving goslings, it occurred to me that all the geese who will be shot over the upcoming weeks and months will be someone's mother, father, sibling, mate or offspring.
Imagine all the sacrifice and effort to raise and protect young, only to lose them a few weeks after learning to fly?  Or, imagine the juvenile geese who lose their parents before learning the routes of the fall migrations and the family's wintering locations?
Imagine the despair of a goose who has lost his or her mate.
If geese need to live and fly in large, organized flocks this is why.
Because they are bound to lose family members along the way. 
None of these were comforting thoughts to me yesterday.
Although I expected this family of geese to soon be flying, a part of me is hoping they might stay at the Reservoir forever (which will not, of course, happen).
Sure, the food supply might not be the greatest as there is no grassy lawn to graze on.  But,  the Reservoir is at least reasonably, "safe."
And its probably the only watercourse in all of Central Park that doesn't entirely freeze over in the winter.
I keep wondering where the other geese went who were in Central Park over the summer?
Did the geese find a new "staging" location to meet up with former members of flock and extended family members?
Harlem Meer doesn't seem to be the gathering spot anymore.  And as of this point, I don't know what place is.
I am just hoping that the geese don't dare fly to any rural areas of the state in the upcoming weeks and months.
The guns and arrows of autumn are already being loaded and will soon be ready to go.
No safe place for the geese.
And no safe season.   -- PCA

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