Friday, September 30, 2011

Quick Follow-ups

Some quick follow-ups to posts written over the past few days:
1 -- In a conversation with a USDA official on Monday, "AG" claimed it was a "goose" that collided with a plane a few days ago.  But, in fact, all news accounts of the bird strike do not specify what type of bird.  Since geese do not fly solitary, it is highly unlikely the particular strike was with a goose.  Most bird strikes in fact, occur with gulls and starlings:
2 -- In describing the frustration of being able to extract from the USDA exactly how long geese take to die in gas chambers, a colleague shared these insights yesterday:
 "It is difficult to put an exact time on death by gassing geese but , one
thing is sure, it takes too long and is carried out under circumstances and
for reasons that are inexcusable. There is still quite a variability in how much time it
will take to die in a gas chamber. Factors determining such outcome are:
1. number of birds in the chamber 2 volume of the chamber 3. gas type and concentration used 4. flow rate of gas applied 5. accidental gas leakage
from chamber, e.g. faulty gaskets, incomplete closure of chamber 6. untrained and unobserving personal 7. biological variants relating to species, physiology etc.
From the materials I have tried to evaluate it appears that wild-caught Canada Geese will die within 5- 15 minutes and some may still not be dead. Gassing wild-caught Canada Geese to death is simply unacceptable, cruel and inappropriate
." -- Jay Fingerlakes
Obviously, killing geese in gas chambers is not like baking a cake in terms of "recommended times."   However, for whatever time it actually takes to rob these waterfowl (who can hold their breaths far longer than humans) of oxygen and ultimately, their lives, it has got to be an eternity to the terrorized geese and their tiny goslings literally struggling to the last breath of their lives.
That any community, park or golf course would hire the USDA to round up and gas geese over simply hiring a Border Collie service to chase the "unwanted" geese away, seems to represent the height of callousness, cheapness, laziness, and total disregard for the intrinsic value and "rights" of nature and wildlife to exist (in short, moral bankruptcy).
3--  I wasn't sure, a few days ago exactly who the "Patron Saint of Lost Causes" is according to the Catholic church.  A Jewish friend has since assured me it is Saint Jude.  I am quite sure this is true because if recalling correctly, actor and comedian, Danny Thomas founded St. Jude Hospital for children many years ago because of the then seeming "hopelessness" of cancer.
Although Saint Jude seems to have a lot on his plate these days in terms of cancer-stricken children to bless and hopefully save, we might offer up a few prayers to the "lost cause" Saint to hopefully guide our forever maligned and persecuted geese to some place of safety and sanctuary.
One hesitates to say any just cause is "hopeless," but this one is as close to futility as it gets.  -- PCA

Thursday, September 29, 2011

"The Gentle Sex"

If it has been frustrating communicating with the men of the USDA, it was infuriating talking to a woman yesterday.  I was barely able to keep composure and ultimately ended up yelling at the person at the other end of the telephone line. 
After the conversation, I questioned myself about it.
Am I harder on women than men?  Or, do I rather expect more from the members of my own sex?
Perhaps it is simply very difficult to reconcile the image of a woman shoving geese into gas chambers with that of the "gentle and nurturing" sex.
The conversation came about as result of my inquiring about a goose roundup that was to have occurred at Tuckerton Park, New Jersey within the last couple of weeks:
Since there was no follow-up to the newspaper article, I wanted to know if the roundup had actually taken place and if so, I had questions about it.
After leaving a couple of messages for the NJ branch of the "Wildlife Services" USDA, I finally received a call-back yesterday from a woman identifying herself as Nicole Rein of USDA field operations.
"Thank you for calling back, Ms. Rein.  I have some questions regarding the goose roundup at Tuckerton Park....."
According to Rein, The USDA rounded up about 60 of approximately 200 geese with  large, rocket-type nets.  Rein swears no drugs or sedatives were used because, "That is against the law during hunting season."  She does admit however, that USDA used baited corn to attract geese.
I asked when non-lethal alternatives were last used at the Ocean County park? 
"We have been working with the park for 4 years on non-lethal measures such as egg addling," Rein replied, casually.
"What about Border Collies?  When were they last used?"
"I don't know if they used dogs.  You have to ask the park that question."
"But, shouldn't YOU know the answer to that?" I asked.  "Isn't it the USDA's job to make sure all non-lethal measures have been exhausted before going in on a lethal cull?"
"It is not a requirement that they use dogs to chase geese," Rein answered dispassionately.
Rein then added that USDA got a call from the park in August complaining about the geese and asking for assistance.   (Apparently, the park is "staging" site for geese following molting.  I told Rein that most of the geese would have left before the winter and/or once the water freezes over.  She said that depended on the winter.)
I then asked Rein about the gassing. 
At first Rein seem surprised that I knew that the geese had been gassed.  (I had figured that out from an email her superior had written to a citizen.  The stuff about "methods approved by the AVMA."  That is agency spin for gassing.)
Rein claims to be a "field worker" who has witnessed goose gassings.
She claims the geese only take a "few minutes" to die.
"Exactly how many minutes are we talking about?" I asked.
Rein refused to be specific.
"Well, how long do you leave the geese in the chambers before taking them out?"
She would not be specific on that, either.
Over and over again, I kept trying to pin Rein down to a specific answer on how long the geese take to die in the gas chambers and/or how long they leave the geese in the death chambers before taking them out. (Like asking a chef how long to leave a cake in the oven before removing it.)
But, Rein kept refusing to answer the question directly.
Finally she did say however, they have to "wait a bit" before opening gas chambers because workers "can't ingest fumes."  (Emphasis supplied.)
"Can't ingest fumes?"
I was totally floored with that statement and could not reconcile this image with the claims by the USDA, the Mayor of New York City, the media and others that the geese "die humanely" in the gas chambers and "have nice dreams." (The latter is a Bloomberg quote.)
How "humane" can it be, if workers operating the chambers "have to wait" before opening them so as not to ingest any of the fumes?   Do we have to "wait" before opening ovens?
Rein totally denied USDA Public Affairs Director, Carol Bannerman's statement last year that geese "take anywhere from five minutes up to an hour to die."  She attributed that to "newspaper error" which is a typical USDA ploy.  -- Always blame the media.
(Bannerman had told me that was what her "workers" reported to her. She did not quote a newspaper article.)
Very angry at this point, I then accused Rein and the USDA of "not doing your homework" regarding the use and exhausting of non-lethal alternatives -- like dogs -- before rushing in with their baited corn and gas chambers.
"Do you ever consider that some people LIKE geese and want to keep them there?" I asked.
Rein didn't answer that.
Totally frustrated and by then, seething,  I asked Rein something I never ask USDA officials, but have often wondered about:
"How do you sleep at night?" 
Rein declined to answer that question as well. But, it was clear by that time that the conversation was over.
Later, I tried to figure out what had gotten me so angry to ask the question of how someone sleeps at night?
It was actually a combination of factors, most of them factual and some emotional.
USDA absolutely should have been able to answer the specific question of whether a Border Collie program had been utilized at the park to chase geese away and if it had failed, why had it failed?    (As written here numerous times, "Harassment" with Border Collies has been highly successful in Central Park in chasing out geese, much to my personal dismay.)
That USDA signed a killing contract with a park without investigating what non-lethal control methods had been used to "manage" goose population (and when), seems to show that the USDA claims of "promoting non-lethal management of geese over lethal culls" to be utterly false.  On the contrary, there appears to be a total lack of regard and consideration for "non-lethal control measures."  Indeed, they are not even mentioned in the latest USDA Goose Removal Report of 2011.
Another fact disturbing about this particular roundup is that the USDA used "baited corn" to win the trust of geese and to attract them.  There is just something so devious and disgusting about that from a purely ascetic and moral vantage point:  "Win them over and gain their trust to kill them."
Then there is the aspect that this roundup and killing occurred at a time the geese can fly and a time normally the USDA doesn't do lethal culls. (They used the baited corn and rocket-type nets to entrap the geese who could otherwise fly and escape.)
Obviously the geese are "safe" no time of the year.
But, probably the most upsetting part of the conversation was that having to do with the gassing of the geese and the fact this woman refused to give a truthful answer on how long it takes.
If Rein didn't really know and was unable to answer the question then why is she partaking in and defending these goose gassings?  She could neither verify that they are "quick or humane."
On the contrary, her statement that workers have to wait before opening the gas chambers because of fear of fume ingesting suggests anything but "humanness. "
I don't regret asking Rein how she slept at night under the circumstances.
Especially as a member of the "nurturing sex," (though in truth, the question should be asked of all humans, male and female who engage in this defense of barbarity and injustice, as well as participation in it).
"The gentle sex" we are not always. -- PCA

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Patron Saint of Lost Causes?

I remember as a kid in Catholic school hearing something about a "patron saint of lost causes."
I don't recall who the saint was, but we need to pray to that saint now.
Because fighting for the protection and respect for Canada geese is indeed, a "lost cause" on almost all levels.
Yesterday, I had a long phone conversation with a high official of the USDA.
Normally, when quoting from conversations with officials of parks or agencies, I use their real names.
However, in this case I feel it better not to use the full name of the person, because he might not appreciate some of his statements in print.  We will simply refer to him as, "AG."
AG is very polite, gracious and friendly over the phone.
But, he is unmovable in either conviction or sentiment.
I of course had many questions for AG, some of which will be relayed here, along with his stunning and in most cases, extremely discouraging answers.
The first questions had to do with the USDA roundup and slaughter of 575 NYC geese and goslings this past summer for "distribution to Pennsylvania food bank:"
(Me)  "Mr. G, it says in the USDA report that only 424 lbs of goose meat was given to food banks.  How is that possible from 575 geese?  These birds typically weigh about ten pounds.  That is less than one pound of meat per bird.  What happened to the rest?"
(AG)  "There is very little edible meat on these birds.....But, this was not about feeding the poor. It was about removal of the geese."
(Me)  "Well, if its not about charity and food banks, why were these geese sent all the way to Pennsylvania?  Wasn't that just a cheap PR ploy to pacify the media and the public?  We spent $78.00 per bird to yield that small amount of meat?  We could have sent vats of caviar to Pennsylvania for that money."
(AG)  "Where are you getting that figure from?"
(Me)  "Supposedly, $45,000 was spent for the roundup.  575 geese. That comes out to about $78.00 per bird."
(AG)  "As said, this was about removal of the geese within 7 miles of the airports.  Canada geese represent the third biggest bird threat to airliners next to turkey vultures and....
(Me) "Bird strikes are far down on the list of things that cause planes to go down or have to emergency land!  Mechanical problems and pilot error are the major causes.   A plane crashed last week and killed ten people.  Are we going to ban air shows?" 
(AG)  "No, but for sure, changes will have to be made."
(Me)  "Every year people are killed and property destroyed by falling tree branches. Should we chop down all the trees?"
(AG)  "I would cut down all the trees, were that decision mine to make."
(Me) "But, we are planting more trees!"
(AG)  "Yes, the mayor is planting a million trees."
Completely stunned by AG's response to this question, I decided to switch gears and ask about the factors that determine where the USDA conducts goose roundups:
(Me)  "Mr. G, I have spoken to other USDA officials who told me the USDA does not conduct roundups where there are low numbers of geese.  But, I see in its report that the USDA rounded up 7 geese from Flushing Meadow Park.  Is seven considered a high number of geese?"
(AG)  "I believe the cutoff figure was ten geese in a location. There were 11 geese at Flushing Meadow Park when it was surveyed.  The intent was to get them all."
(Me) "So, 11 geese was considered a high number?  High enough for a cull?  How come USDA did not go into Prospect Park this year?  They had more than 11 geese."
(AG)  "Prospect Park is more than 7 miles from the airports."
(Me)  "But, USDA rounded up 368 geese from Prospect Park last year!  How do you explain that?  Did the park move?"
(AG) "No," (laughing)  "The tip of Prospect Park is within 7 miles of the airports, but the pond is not."
(Geese were rounded up at the lake at Prospect Park last year, not the "tip."   Apparently USDA went out of 7 mile zone for last year's Prospect Park goose gassings.)
Switching gears again.
(Me) "Mr. G, do the feelings of park patrons ever enter into USDA's decisions to round up geese?   I see that USDA went to Inwood Park twice -- despite a park goer complaining about the first roundup in this park.  Why did USDA go back for 10 geese?"
(AG)  "We are aware that some people see the geese like pets.  But, the decisions for roundups are made on the basis of parks' proximity to airports and the goal of keeping air travelers safe."
(Me)  "But, resident park geese barely fly over the trees!  We could have killed every resident goose in NY state prior to January of 09 and it would not have prevented flight 1549 from colliding with two migratory geese from Labrador, Canada!  Is it really an option to kill every bird that flies?"
(AG)  "Those geese from Canada might have been wintering in the state and flying near the airport.   Geese are more plentiful than other birds. They can do more damage. A plane collided with a goose last week.  Had the plane gone down and people died, we might not be having the same conversation."
"Might, maybe, can, could, may." 
I was getting tired of all the "mights" and "maybes."
I wanted to say that I "might" have a mansion in the Bahamas, but the fact is, I don't.  But, I didn't say that.
(Me) "Mr. G, I would like to question this figure of 20,000 to 25,000 geese in NYC metro area that the USDA has been using for last 4 years.  Where does that come from and why has it not changed in all these years of goose killings?"
(AG) "We are going by count estimates from the DEC. You have to ask them that question."
(Me) "When was the last time they did a goose count?"
(AG)  "I am not sure.  Again, you have to ask them that question."
(Me), "Well, where are all these 20,000 geese hiding?  Westchester?  Port Washington?  I look at the USDA roundup tallies for this year and there were not a real large population of geese anywhere.  The list for surveys is very long. But, the list for actual roundups, very short."
(AG)  "There could be a large population of geese in the outlying areas. (again, "could.") But, we are only concerned with the geese within 7 miles of the airports."
(Me)  "You know we have NO geese at all in Central Park right now.  Normally, we would have about 75 geese this time of year at Harlem Meer alone,  but there are ZERO in the entire 900 acre park!"
(AG)  "Really?  That is interesting."
(AG seemed astonished at this.  And yet, Central Park had been surveyed in the report.)
(Me)  "Well, of course, Central Park uses harassment on the geese.  So it is hard to tell exactly what is normal under the circumstances. Nevertheless, it seems there are no geese to fly into Central Park anymore.  I believe the population has been decimated in New York City."
(AG)  "The geese are very prolific.  There are plenty of them."
(Me)  "There used to be hundreds of millions of passenger pigeons.  But, they are long extinct."
(AG)  "Yes, that was a tragedy. But, that would not happen now. There are protections in place to prevent that."
(Me)  "You mean captive breeding and release -- like what we did in the last century when the geese almost went extinct?  But, that was to preserve the geese as hunting targets.  You know, not everyone see the geese as just hunting targets. I could show you photos of big, burly men feeding geese.  I am sure they are not happy now that the geese have been taken away from them."
(AG)  "I am sure they care more about football games."
(Me)  "That is only because they don't know who to call to protest the banishment and killing of the geese.  They probably don't even realize what's happened!"
(AG)  "Don't worry.  In another week or two you will see plenty of geese arriving at Central Park."
(Me)  "I have been telling myself that for weeks now.  But, its not happening. Why should I be confident that the geese are going to make it through a hail of bullets?  Do you realize there is NO SAFE PLACE for these birds anymore?  WHERE are they supposed to GO?"
AG did not answer those questions.
(Me)  "Mr. G, please tell me what is an acceptable number of geese in NYC that they won't be rounded up and killed?"
(AG)  "I cannot really answer that as we have to minimize the threat to airliners within 7 miles of the airports."
(Me) "That sounds like every goose is fair game. Is there nothing we can do to stop future slaughters?"
(AG)  "Nothing that I can think of."
(Me, choking up, crying)  "These are beautiful, majestic and valiant birds!    It kills me to think of how the geese are being vilified and made to suffer. How they are being hunted, demonized and slaughtered in every corner of the country.  I am BEGGING, IMPLORING YOU and the USDA to use every means possible to recommend and implement the use of non-lethal control methods over the ruthless slaughter of thousands of geese.   As it is, this report recommends EXPANDING the killings!"
(AG)   "You can't go by just one report. We encourage and implement non-lethal means of goose control far more than we conduct lethal roundups."
(Me)  "That is not what we are seeing."
It was around this point that the nearly hour long conversation ended.
But, afterwards I could not help feeling almost completely demoralized and hopeless.
It reminds one of a quote from the Coalition to Abolish Sport Hunting:
"What has been going on transcends Canada geese and goes to the heart of good government, not to mention the Migratory Bird Treaty Act. A tiny fiefdom in Freehold has gone unchecked and unchallenged for too long. We have some of the answers. It's past time legislators and attorneys started asking the right questions. In the meantime, the Canada goose -- majestic, intelligent, loyal beyond all bounds to mate and offspring is up against it. Abandoned by bird snobs, overproduced by game managers, set-up by bureaucrats, hated by a vocal minority; all are piling on, and its future looks bleak. If you believe in lost causes, this is your bird."  -- The C.A.S.H. Courier
So, what is the name of the patron saint of lost causes?
We need to start praying --  long and hard to him or her now.   -- PCA

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Countdown to Zero Geese in NYC -- Call to Action

The countdown has already started and the clock is ticking away on the lives of NYC geese, virtually all of whom are now in certain peril.
This past summer, the USDA rounded up 575 geese from NYC parks and properties. That number is far lower than the "800" previously projected and sought.
Apparently, so desperate was USDA to "make work" and earn their paycheck, they even "revisited" two locations (Inwood Park and Pelham Bay Park) to terrorize and capture whatever geese they could -- even as few as ten geese at Inwood Park the second time around.
Additionally, the USDA captured and killed 8 banded geese, including three with neck collars.  (There were two neck- collared geese in Prospect Park this past spring.)
While the USDA claims the geese "were given to a food bank" in Pennsylvania, only 424 lbs of goose "meat" was (according to USDA) "distributed to food charity." (The weight of two muscular adult men.)   That is LESS than one pound per bird!   It is more likely than not, that most of the 575 entrapped geese died in the trucks en route to a slaughterhouse at least 3 hours away from NYC. (Crowding, terror, stress and heat is a slow, torturous way for the geese to die.)
In its "Recommendations" USDA talks about "finding processing plants in NYC that can process birds locally" and also about capturing geese when they are not molting.  ("Alternative methods of capture.")
This is far worse news than could have ever been imagined.  Although all evidence points to the goose population already being decimated in NYC, the USDA and the City are still vigorously planning to kill even more geese next year -- or more accurately, whatever still remains.
It is abundantly clear that if we want to save whatever geese still remain in NYC, then we need immediately to:
1-- Lobby politicians and City Council to demand oversight and hearings into goose massacres.  We must also continually pressure parks to oppose goose slaughters and if necessary, implement non-lethal measures of goose population control for areas with more than 100 geese.
2-- Monitor and immediately respond via reader comments or Letters to the Editor to all news coverage and media articles on NYC geese. *
3-- Pitch to media and try to secure more coverage and Investigative Reports.
4-- Begin plans and organization for massive rallies  very early in spring or preferably late winter demanding end to goose slaughters.
5-- Continue to monitor and report goose numbers in parks and city properties -- especially those that have been targeted for goose killings recently or in past.
The clock is ticking down on the lives of innocent geese in NYC and we cannot afford to be so naive to believe that USDA will not kill even when low numbers of geese are present in parks.
USDA went to Flushing Meadow Park on June 28 of this year to round up 7 geese out of 11 geese who were originally observed.
Obviously, a low number of geese does not deter the USDA and the city of NY in its killing missions.
If we want to save the geese still surviving in NYC then that work starts today.  Should we wait until next year, we will simply be reacting to massacres already occurred.
The USDA is already seeking NYC "processing plants" to send next year's goose victims to. (Probably because so many geese died in the trucks this year on their journey to hell in PA.)
Though it is only fall,  the death wheels are already in motion for next year's hapless geese still remaining in city parks come next June.
The countdown to zero geese in NYC has already started and is in full blown motion.
Indeed, "zero population of geese" is already the reality in Central Park,  -- PCA

Monday, September 26, 2011

Innocence Destroyed and Innocence Nurtured

Photo: Young child holding goose for banding. The goose was later released.

If a picture is worth a thousand words, then a video must be worth a hundred thousand.
Yesterday, I posted a YouTube video that was disturbing on many levels:
There is the obvious lunacy, cruelty and intolerance of rounding up a pitiful family of nine defenseless geese from a lakefront community.
But, if one watches the video closely and carefully, there is much more.....
There is the trauma to the children of this community who witnessed a hideous "ganging up on" and "bullying" of defenseless wildlife who had no means of escape.
Anyone who doubts this only need study the expressions on the children's faces towards the end of the video as well as their body language.
At least three children old enough to have some grasp of the situation are standing with heads lowered and arms folded and crossed tightly and defensively across their bodies.  
They don't say anything, but the disturbed and puzzled looks on their faces says it all.
We know the people of this community did not consider at all what they were doing to the geese.
As the gander of the group tries desperately to seek escape and protection for the family of geese and as the birds huddle tightly together and are seen vainly flapping and attempting to fly on flightless (molting) wings, one can hear the videographer  laughing.  Other "adults" are heard throughout the video self-congratulating, laughing and boasting that they "got all nine geese."
Indeed, it appears that an entire "army" of people in the community set out to overpower and "get" this innocent family of geese living peacefully on a large lake.  
But, the children are not laughing -- especially at the end when they seem to realize on some gut level what has just happened.
A couple of the adults continue to laugh and say something about a "resort," but it appears that the children aren't buying it.  They simply stare silently and solemnly as the terrified geese are driven away.
My personal belief is that the insidious images of this event will sit in the subconscious of these children for many years and will affect them in various ways down the line.
Some may develop a distrust of adults and a skepticism of things told to them. (i.e. "The geese had to go! They were a nuisance. They went to a nice resort!").   What was told to the children simply did not fit with the images they witnessed.  
Children can be extraordinarily sensitive and perceptive as they are not emotionally and spiritually blunted like many adults.  What we assume they do not "understand" quite often are understood far better by children than us.
Along with a kind of damage or destruction of innocence and trust, there is also possibility that some children can develop a fear of being "overpowered" (like the geese) corralled (i.e. "controlled") and coming to some unfortunate end at the hands of those who overpower and control them (like the geese).   This could cause the children eventually to "overcompensate" for the fear by becoming "bullies" themselves and trying to "get others before others get them."
In short, there is no way to think that what these children witnessed on June 19 of this year was in any way "positive" to their psychological health and emotional sense of security and well being.  On the contrary, the overpowering and insidiously cruel roundup of the geese by what appears to be an army of human bullies can only be considered to be extremely damaging to the psychological health of the impressionable children forced to bear witness.
Innocence was destroyed in this video and on this day.
But, it wasn't just the innocence of the victimized geese -- but the children of this community, as well.
But, the "adults" seemed as blind to that as they were their tyranny against the geese.
If it is despairing to realize how we are damaging some children through celebrated actions of bullying and cruelty to animals, it is important to realize that not all parents are so blunted and spiritually bankrupt as to traumatize their kids in such egregious manner.
Also on YouTube is a beautiful video of a young girl (about the same age as some of the kids on the goose roundup video) who, with the support and encouragement of her Dad, rescues and nurses back to health, a sick Canada goose. (Funny how the goose shows no fear of the girl and makes no attempt to escape.)
Hope for the future can be realized with the knowledge that some children are fortunate to grow up in homes where awareness, empathy and sensitivity to the world around them is encouraged and nurtured rather than thwarted and warped.
Though only about 12 or 13 when video was made, young Zoe already has wisdom and confidence far beyond her years.
That only all children could be raised with such love and connection to life and nature. That only all children could be allowed to hold on to their innocence and trust through the formative years of childhood.
It would be a far better, more peaceful and happier world for both humans and animals and things like "bullying," teen suicides and "goose roundups" would be virtually non-existent.  --PCA

Sunday, September 25, 2011


Earlier tonight when heading to Harlem Meer, I noted a few ducks swimming in the Reservoir. I tried to take that as a hopeful sign that perhaps a few geese might have returned to the Meer. 
But, "hope" is not something to entertain these days insofar as the geese -- unless one is a masochist and thrives on letdowns and disappointments. 
There were of course no geese at the Meer as there have not been since August (with the exception of the one night of the Turtle Pond goose family who were apparently chased out the next day.)
Since I seem to be the only one "upset" about the banishment of the geese in Central Park these days,  I sometimes question if I am in fact, "crazy?"
If this is really happening, why isn't anyone else noticing?  Why isn't anyone else distressed about it?
But, the conversation with Caroline Greeleaf of Central Park Conservancy some weeks back in which she informed me of ongoing goose harassment since July was not my imagination.
Nor is this video that I took a year ago today at Harlem Meer my imagination:
There were at least 60-75 geese at Harlem Meer a year ago today.
There are now zero -- a figure that has not changed in more than a month.
Nor are there geese apparently anywhere else in Central Park.
I say, "apparently," because I personally have not been to the other areas of Central Park in weeks, (but other people have reported not seeing any geese in other areas).
It is simply too painful to go to the Boat Lake or Turtle Pond or even walk entirely around the Reservoir now. 
Too many goose memories.
Harlem Meer is painful too, but at least the mallards and Brad (the domestic duck) are still there.  If they weren't, I wouldn't go anywhere near Central Park.
I have in fact, changed my routine substantially since every last goose was chased out of Central Park.  (I suppose to cut down on the stress and disappointment of the walks.)
I only go to the park at night now (fewer people). I only go to the Meer and I never bring a camera anymore. (no geese to document.)
I still cannot get over the fact that CP would ever stoop to the level that it has. 
And I cannot comprehend that no one else seems to care about this.
The latter is what has, I suppose caused me to feel a kind of "separation" from and disappointment in other people (and even at times, questioning my own sanity).
I never used to care, for example about how many people were running, cycling, playing ball or whatever in the park.  
On the contrary, I thought all the activities added to the liveliness and spirit of Central Park. I took photos of people running at sunset, kids playing ball and lovers boating on the lake. 
I thought it hilariously amusing that the Turtle Pond goose family seemed to enjoy the concerts and plays from the Delacourt Theatre.  "These geese appreciate culture!"  I even wrote in this journal  many months ago.
(Indeed, how can I take pot shots at sports lovers now when I spent the last three summers swimming at Lasker Pool in Central Park?)
But, everything seemed so in balance then.  
The park was a happy place for runners, cyclists, picnickers, families, lovers, ball players -- and wildlife.  
Central Park was a happy and safe place for Canada geese.
But, in the space of a few weeks everything has changed.  
Now, I seem to somewhat "resent" all the human activities because a part of me perceives it is all the human activities that ultimately pushed out the geese.
But, I realize that is mostly an incorrect perception, as it was and is really jaded and callous politics more than anything else that is responsible for the endless persecution and decimation of the geese in NYC.
Most people are simply unaware of the eradication program.   And if they are aware, it is apparently unimportant to them.
But, why isn't it "unimportant" to me?  Why am I seemingly the only one to take the goose killings and banishment in our city so seriously and so personally?
Does this make me crazy?  Or, is everyone else just tuned out?
I don't know.
But, its not a real comfortable feeling to be questioning one's sanity when realizing the rest of the world is not in sync with one is feeling and experiencing.
Yesterday, I had an inquiry from a college student who wants to write a paper about USDA roundups around the city and country.   I promised the young woman to send her information links, photos and videos.
When scouting around YouTube for goose roundup videos, I came across something that, while not seemingly a USDA roundup, was nevertheless disturbing:
The above is a ten-minute video shot June 19th of this year showing a lakeside community that apparently could not tolerate a family of NINE (yes, 9) geese living on a huge lake.
It seems the whole community was out on the lake with motor boats, kayaks and nets to round up this ONE PITIFUL FAMILY of geese!  (It is obvious which is the gander of the family because he keeps straining his neck trying to figure out an escape route or how to protect the family.)
Eventually the dozens of people (including kids) corral the geese and drive them to God knows where.   It isn't clear at the end of the video whether the geese are being driven some place for slaughter or some "resort" with a "million" other geese.  Whoever took the video did not give a location, though the people seem to speak with southern accents.  (Notice all the homes built right up to the banks of the lake.)
It seems unbelievable that a lakeside community could not tolerate even one family of geese on its large lake for the few weeks of the year that the geese go through the molt and are flightless. Instead, they conducted this monumental operation, involving practically the whole town and presumably a bunch of bucks to "rid" themselves of a few waterfowl on a lake.
After watching this video yesterday, I became convinced that its really not me who is so much "crazy" as the rest of the world.
This appears to be sheer madness -- just like chasing 20 geese out of 900 acre Central Park was sheer madness. 
What has happened to us?  -- PCA

Friday, September 23, 2011

"Never Let Them See You Cry"

(Friday Quick Takes)
Macho Men --   From a list of "tips for goose hunters" comes this fascinating gem today:
"If a forlorn mate of the goose you shot, comes back looking for the lifelong mate, don't let the other guys see your tears. This is not me, of course."
Of course.  It's not the hunter who cries over the forlorn mate of a slain goose.  Why should we expect those with knowledge about geese to connect that to any feeling, sense of moral conscience or sensitivity?  Knowledge should, apparently only be used for destruction.
The Last Paradise. -- Sometimes I ask myself if I am "obsessed" over the destruction of the geese?   It is probably true that I am as obsessed with trying to protect and advocate for geese as my government and others are obsessed with killing them. 
But, some might ask, "Billions of animals are killed and slaughtered every year.  Why is this different?"
That is true. Animals are killed in fields, forests, on water, in the air, in slaughterhouses, laboratories and "shelters."   But, in almost all cases, we don't personally know the animals. 
That does not make the killings "right."   It just makes them distant.
(It is difficult to stop the industries that rely on animal cruelty and destruction, though we can and should give up [and thus not financially support] the products of that destruction.)
In the case of the geese, they are rounded up and killed from city parks. Our own "backyards," so to speak.
One has to ask, "Where do we draw the lines on obscenity, cruelty, madness and massacres?"
I used to think that line was drawn in the peace and sanctuary of city parks. "This is the one place in the world where animals are free from the tyranny of humans."
That perception has since been proved wrong.  Animals are not safe anywhere.
But, somewhere a line has to be drawn.
I draw that line on the last paradise of our city parks and the animals we have come to know and wrongly thought were "safe."   If we cannot stop animal cruelty and destruction on our own door steps, then we cannot stop it anywhere.
Things --  I don't own a cell phone, laptop, HD TV, Ipod, X-Box or a hundred pairs of shoes. I do own (and use) a 4-year-old, PC computer (with ten-year-old monitor), a regular TV, a Walkman and about 5 or 6 pairs of mostly sports shoes.   I am not sure if this makes me simply "behind the times," really, really "old" or if I finally woke up one day and realized that "things" don't really matter much.
The geese taught me that.
Geese are so completely connected to and in tune with their environment, surroundings, life  forces, natural order and their brethren.
We, on the other hand are seemingly connected to everything, but our environment, surroundings, life forces, natural order and brethren.
"Bullying" --  A hot topic in the news these days because so many young people commit suicide over it.
Sometimes, when watching TV, I channel surf.  Not because I believe something better to be on the other channels, but to escape the 30 to 60 second promos for violent movies or TV programs.  Ax murders, shootings, stabbings, fist fights, explosions, car crashes.   (And yet, we claim to "love and care about" other humans?)
Apparently, violence "sells" in the mass media.
But, then why do we question or wonder why we have violence and bullying in our schools?
Isn't that the "normal" way we live in America -- or, at least in the eyes of our children?
Isn't that the way we relate to nature and the environment that surrounds us? 
Whatever we can't totally dominate and control or whatever gets in our way, we kill -- one way or the other.
Death, life forces and "getting old." --  Among the things we try to "kill off" or at least deny and hold back, are the natural life forces of getting old and eventually dying.  We exercise to a point of fanaticism, we endlessly diet and go to doctors. We take medications and vitamins, buy expensive face creams and when all those fail to yield the narcissistic and irrational desires sought, resort to Botox injections, implants, liposuction, and plastic surgeries.
When did life become an endless battle to deny its partners in life force -- aging and death?
"The brave man dies only once; the coward a thousand times."
"Feed the Hungry" --  It seems a bit odd that in a nation that seems to be constantly fighting "fat," at the same time, almost 20% of the country's "children go to bed hungry every night." 
Perhaps those people indulging in too many meals should donate some of those overabundant meals to the hungry. (Gluttony is after all, one of the "seven deadly sins.")  Or, perhaps we should make better use of our lands to grow vegetables and crops as opposed to creating factories that torment billions of animals while feeding more than half our corn, grains and water supplies to them to later convert to "meat."  Meat is actually a very expensive commodity -- especially when so many children and people are truly hungry. 
Of course an argument could also be made to produce fewer babies if we cannot afford to feed them.  At some point we need to seriously start thinking about controlling our own population as we "control and manage" animal populations that we claim are "overabundant."
"Never Let Them See You Cry" -- Unlike the hunter quoted at the opening of this piece, I believe people should do more crying.
Tears are one of nature's forces that tells us something has gone wrong.  Either something we are doing to others or something that is being done to us.
Tears are not something to run away from, attempt to hide or drown out in a sea of diversion and escape.
Should a hunter actually shed tears after shooting the mate of a devoted goose pair, that might seem to indicate someone actually plugged into feelings and moral consciousness.
Why is that considered a "bad" or "weak" thing?
Aren't comprehension of feelings and moral choice among those things that separate humans from animals?
When did feelings, awareness and moral consciousness become things to be hidden and ashamed of?
Pity the society bereft and bankrupt in these important life forces and qualities.  It is to put us on a plane lower than the very animals we so disdain, dominate and slaughter. 
The animals are at least aware and in tuned with what's going on around them and before them.   -- PCA

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Hallelujah, Hallelujah....

Politicians rarely, if ever keep promises.
Rather, the exalting words of "hope and change," lower taxes and love and happiness for everyone crumble to the ground like yesterday's discarded campaign posters the day following election.
But, some promises and "goals" are kept.
Or, at least the ones that are easy, profitable and self-serving to follow through on -- such as rounding up and killing thousands of defenseless and hapless Canada geese.
Last night, while once again walking through a park completely devoid of any geese, I remembered back to an article read last year that claimed the "goal" of Mayor Bloomberg and the city was to "eliminate" all Canada geese in New York City, except for those at the very southern tip of Manhattan.
At the time, I could not make myself believe that such "alarmist" statement could possibly be true despite being aware that goose killings were occurring in all five boroughs.  
Certainly, they would never round up and slaughter geese from Central Park, I thought, confidently! They would never be able to get away with such without witness and exposure!
"You can't believe everything you read."
The above quote is from Carol Bannerman (spokesperson for the USDA), and is frequently used to dispute charges made in the press regarding USDA activities and plans.
Well, I obviously didn't believe everything that was being read in the hundreds of articles poured through over the past year -- especially something I did not want to believe.
I thus, didn't save the particular article, but have now lived to regret that negligence and denial.
Because it is realized now that what was claimed is actually true.
While it may have been correct to think that goose roundups and slaughter would not occur in and from Central Park, what foolishly was not considered was that Central Park would embark on an aggressive program of chasing every goose out of its 900 acre property for the birds to get killed somewhere else in the city.
This morning, I attempted to find the particular article pondered during last night's walk in Central Park.
But, not remembering the publication, it was a daunting task.
However, I did find this piece from the New York Times from July of last year which is similar in NY state's voiced goals.  "Goals" that the city politicians and officials signed off on:
So, the question becomes, "Why did I not believe the article that specifically claimed the geese would be "eliminated" in all, but the southern tip of Manhattan?
Perhaps because it was simply unimaginable to me that my city and my "crown jewel" park would ever set out to destroy something so dearly treasured,  valued and loved.-- Something that brought  life, vibrancy, spirit, hope, renewal and tranquility to Central Park.
Innocent birds swimming on a park lake or peacefully grazing on a grassy embankment.
What was it about such natural, gentle image that would arouse attitudes of dominance, hostility, paranoia and "control" in political leaders as well as plans for destruction and massacres by our city, state and federal officials?
Last night, after a once again bereft and disquieting journey in the park, I found myself looking at some YouTube videos.
Or, more accurately, one video over and over again:
"And its not a cry you hear at night
And its not someone who has seen the light
Its a cold and its a broken, Hallelujah."
Hallelujah, hallelujah, indeed.
Sometimes, our officials and politicians actually do keep promises.
But, they are never the ones you want them to keep.
I imagine there will come a day when Central Park (and other city parks) will become like large outdoor sports complexes and entertainment venues. "Greener" versions, so to speak, of Times Square, Madison Square Garden and New York Sports Club.
What little wildlife miraculously remains will be carefully monitored and constantly assessed for any possible "interference" on human activities. (This is why I believe mallards, like geese, will eventually be deemed "nuisance" and subsequently, doomed in the park. After all, ducks sometimes get caught in fishing lines and they quack a lot.)   Some animals will be chased out of the parks.  Others will be rounded up and "removed" to make way for bicycle and running tracks, ball fields, playgrounds, picnic areas and concert venues.
I would like to think that such day is decades away and that I won't be around to see it.
But, "send in the clowns.  Don't bother, they're here."
Today, I walked with my dogs around my Upper East Side neighborhood.
At least half the people were either texting or talking on cell phones.  Even an old woman in a wheel chair was on a cell phone -- as was her caregiver.
Had I suddenly stripped naked on 86th Street, I doubt few people would have noticed, much less cared or reacted in any way -- such as to call a cop.
Why should I or public officials expect anyone to notice if all the geese or all other wildlife are suddenly banished from city parks or even killed?
Love and connection are, after all, only a website, marathon mile, text message or plastic surgery away.
"Its not a cry you hear at night.
And its not someone who has seen the light.
Its a cold and its a broken hallelujah."   -- PCA

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

A Season of Suspension

Some people look for signs of fall by the cooler temperatures and changing of leaf colors.
I sense that fall is here by the dramatically increased appetite of the mallards.
One cannot be sure if this is due to lower food supplies in the fall or whether the ducks are trying to build up fat reserves for the approaching winter.  It might be a combination of both.
But, over the past week or so, Brad has once again taken to feeding ravenously from my hand, as do some of the bolder mallards.
It is quite amazing how the birds seem to sense and prepare very early for the challenges they will have to face when winter comes.
One might guess that NYC could again be in for a rough winter based upon the behaviors of the birds.   Many, if not most of the sparrows and robins have already left Central Park, presumably to fly south to warmer regions.
And there still are no Canada geese -- but that of course has nothing to do with the weather or season changes....
Were it not for my specific concerns for Brad (the domestic, flightless duck at Harlem Meer), as well as general appreciation for the wild mallards, I would not go to Central Park at all these days as it has become such a source of sorrow and sense of loss since CP's inexplicable and senseless banishment of the geese.
Some might say to this, "But, there are the mallards and other birds to enjoy! What's the difference?"
There is a huge difference between mallards and geese.  In fact, Canada geese are not really like any other bird.
It is difficult to find the same degree of loyalty, steadfastness, devotion, organization, awareness, stoicism and adaptability in other animals as one readily observes in Canada geese.  Moreover, the geese exude a certain regalness, self-possession and dignity of character that is not easily denoted in many of nature's other wondrous creatures.  Geese of course, mate for life and it is the fortunate female goose who enjoys the companionship, protection and endless devotion of her gander. -- A devotion and bond, that upon loss of one of the birds, is not easily replaced by another. 
Loyalty to species and flock is another hallmark of the geese.  If, while flying or on ground, one goose is injured, two others of the gaggle will stay with the compromised goose until s/he recovers or dies.   Goose parents have been known to take in and "adopt" orphaned goslings who have either lost parents or somehow become separated.  Perhaps these qualities help to explain why Canada geese normally have such high survival rates.
"All for one and one for all"  might well be the motto Canada geese live by.
I love mallards (and all animals).  Mallards are beautiful, funny, feisty, whimsical and they chatter away a mile a minute.  I would love to understand "duck language" as I believe mallards "talk" more perhaps than any other bird  (certainly more than geese who are for the most part, fairly quiet and self-contained except when flying).
Like geese, mallards are smart and learn to recognize those humans they perceive as friends.  And like the geese, the mallards have a good sense of what they need to do to survive (fattening up in the fall for example, in anticipation of harsh winters).
But, in other ways, mallards are quite different from geese.
For one matter, mallard parents don't share in the raising of young.  Perhaps one of the reasons why so many more ducklings perish than goslings is that only the mother mallard raises and protects the young.  It seems that the female mallards banish the drakes when they nest and raise little ones  (or maybe the boys just take off when learning their gal is "pregnant?").   Whatever the case, if mallards "mate for life" like the geese, there are obvious periods of separation, but my sense is that they do not necessarily mate for life.
And yet, the domestic ducks, Brad and Angelina at Harlem Meer were obviously a bonded pair.  But, I am not sure now if they might have in fact, been siblings.  During the few years I was following these birds, they did not produce any young. 
Sadly, Angelina mysteriously vanished earlier this summer.  And while I hoped that Brad might take up with a female mallard, that has not happened (different species of bird, obviously).  Its sad to see Brad now. Though hanging with the mallards, Brad is obviously not a part of them.   Sometimes, while standing alone on the bank of the lake, Brad looks out and I imagine him missing Angelina. But,  of course that is to open one's self up to charges of "anthropomorphism."  Whatever.  I know that the loss of Angelina was a great loss for this particular bird.
Nevertheless, "loss" seems to be the story of this year.
Like Brad seemingly searching for Angelina, I look out at the ponds, lakes and the Reservoir of Central Park devoid of any geese now and feel a sense of emptiness and loss.
Memories of what "used to be" collide with the images of what is now.
"Highway of diamonds with nobody on it."
"...a young child beside a dead pony."
Those are lyrics from an old Bob Dylan song and are what come to mind when trying to describe the feeling of no geese in our "crown jewel" of city parks.
(A "hard rain is going to fall," indeed.) 
I feel no sense of optimism or hope these days.
If personally despaired with the recent banishment of the geese in Central Park, I am totally horrified that geese would be drugged, rounded up and killed now in a New Jersey park just prior to a "gun and decoy show" -- and in the midst of early and expanded hunting seasons in almost every part of the country. (See previous blog entry.)
That is one load of crap that cannot be spun into cotton candy -- and yet, to this point, it has been.
"Dog and pony shows."  "Hard Rain."  "Kill all the geese."
We should not be surprised when our communities are flooded from hurricanes or ravaged by droughts, tornados or wildfires.
As once an old commercial proclaimed,  "It's not nice to fool with Mother Nature." 
We have done much more than "fool" with Mother Nature.
In the case of the beautiful, gentle and majestic Canada geese, we are scapegoating and destroying it.
Perhaps its because we know, deep down, that we will never match the qualities that these animals possess and to this point have used so well to survive the wrath and jealousy of man.  We would do better to emulate the character qualities of geese rather than seek to destroy the birds themselves. 
In the next couple of days, we will mark the official beginning of fall on our calendars.  The changes are already observed in the cooler temperatures, leaf colors and even the greater appetites of the ducks.
But, for me, the seasons are suspended, frozen, unchanging and indistinguishable in a kind of neverland of a park without any geese.  -- PCA 

Monday, September 19, 2011

One Step Lower to Hell

Just when you think we cannot plunge any lower in our treatment and relentless slaughter of Canada geese, we somehow manage to descend still one level lower to hell.
This article came out over the weekend describing a planned USDA roundup of 100 geese at Tuckerton Park in New Jersey prior to an upcoming "Gun and Decoy" show:
One might wonder how the USDA is going to round up 100 geese during a period the geese can fly?
While USDA spokesperson, Carol Bannerman is careful to say correctly that the USDA does not "poison" geese, that "baited corn" is not being fed to the geese out of the kindness and generosity of USDA hearts.
One has to suspect some type of sedation or tranquilizer being laced into the baited feed (which USDA freely admits to using in their "Goose Removal Documents.").   Otherwise, it would be nearly impossible to "net" a large group of geese.   (Indeed, it is almost impossible to capture even one injured goose if the bird is capable of flying as numerous articles of failed rescues of injured geese or those with arrows have reported over the years.) 
However, the USDA is more than capable of rounding up large numbers of geese even during those times geese can fly.  -- Better killing through chemistry, one supposes.
Unfortunately, the reporter of the piece never bothered to ask apparently, the most basic questions such as, "How does USDA capture 100 geese who can fly?" or "What happens to the geese after they are captured and removed?"
Once again, the USDA simply gets away with the euphemism that the geese will be "euthanized," -- never saying what the "euthanasia" actually is.
But, even the CEO of McDonalds would not describe slaughter as "euthanasia" and stuffing geese into gas chambers where the animals struggle up to an hour before dying could never be referred to as "euthanasia" by anyone with even a shred of honesty, integrity or thought capacity.
Nevertheless, almost without exception, journalists and reporters continually fail to ask or follow-up on key questions.
And so the euphemisms, obfuscations, white-washes and rationalizations for goose massacres continue unabated and unchallenged.
It is not clear from the article exactly when the intended roundup and slaughter of 100 geese is supposed to occur (other than before the gun show on the 24th of this month).  
USDA does not usually announce specific dates of roundups and/or specific locations for fear protesters might actually show up.   For all we know and suspect, the Tuckerton roundup and killings already occurred this past weekend, although there are no follow-up or new articles about it.
With dim hope that the goose massacre did not yet occur at Tuckerton Park, it is requested that people go to the article page and post a comment.  
We must keep in mind that New Jersey is right next door to New York City.
And if the USDA can round up geese in a NJ park when the geese are flying, then it is a short trip over the GW bridge to do the same in New York City.
Those of us naive enough to believe that USDA roundups only occur in the summer when geese are molting and incapable of flight, obviously have much to learn from this article.
The fact is, that no goose is "safe" in any public park any time of year. -- PCA

Friday, September 16, 2011

"Safety Measures" or Irrational Intrusion?

Following up on yesterday's blog posting regarding the Department of Environmental Protection press release of June 25th, 2011, one is hard pressed to figure out how an aggressive campaign of "goose removals" (and killings of more than 3,000 geese over the past three years) around the city would not result in an overall decrease in the goose population in the New York Metropolitan area.
The New York City Metropolitan area however takes in Nassau and Suffolk Counties, as well as Westchester and Rockland counties.
So, if one greatly stretches the imagination it is possible to speculate that while thousands of geese were being killed within seven miles of NYC airports, geese were breeding by the thousands in the outlying Long Island and suburban areas.
However, this doesn't make a whole lot of sense, nor jive with the realities of the day.
While it is quite apparent that Canada geese are a highly adaptable species of bird and have been known to "compensate" for predations by breeding more, its hard to imagine any community tolerating large numbers of geese reproducing on lakefront properties -- especially in these days of an announced "war on geese" occurring all over.
Goose management efforts, such as egg addling and goose harassment are widely practiced and happening in areas all around the country, including the suburban areas of New York.
So, while it is difficult to actually "prove" that the DEC ongoing estimate of "20,000 -25,000" geese in the NYC metro area to be highly inflated, the fact remains it is very questionable and suspect under the current circumstances.  
What is truly needed is a scientific and independent study of goose numbers in the NYC Metro area.  According to a spokesperson for the NYC Audubon Society a grant request for that was actually proposed to the Port Authority, but to date, it has not been granted.
Other claims in the DEP document raise questions:
For example, when one talks about a "flock of birds" one is usually referring to more than two.
However, it was only two geese that flight 1549 collided with on January 15, 2009. 
Tests later conducted on the remains of the two geese indicated they were migratory geese from Labrador, Canada, apparently flying at an altitude of 3,200 feet.  
The fact is, that even had New York killed EVERY goose in the entire Metropolitan area (or even the state) it would not have prevented that near-catastrophe of the plane landing in the Hudson that cold January day!
Additionally, the particular airliner had suffered "engine stall" on a previous flight and almost had to emergency land:
Normally, when planes collide with birds, they don't end up in rivers. Almost always, the airliners rather return to airports. One cannot rule out mechanical deficiencies for largely contributing to the ill fated flight that day landing in a river.
And yet that one incident which in fact, had nothing to do with "resident" Canada geese living in or around city parks has been used to justify a seemingly never-ending slaughter and/or harassment of the local birds on city properties and elsewhere.
Of course the DEP also sites other goose/plane collisions as reason for the massacres.
"82" to be exact over an 11-year period from 1999 -2010, none of which resulted in human casualty.
Eighty-two seems to be an infinitely low number when one considers that there were many millions of flights going in and out of NYC airports during that period of time.
How many people were actually killed by falling tree branches during that period of time?  Why haven't we declared a "war on trees" for public safety reasons?
Is it because people care more about trees than the birds who actually live near trees?
I don't personally know the answers to these questions.  I do question however, why they have apparently never been asked by the major media.
One of course, understand the needs for public safety, but as noted, even had we killed every goose in NY prior to Janurary 15th, 2009, it would not have prevented the incident now being used to justify an all out war on a local species.
When do "safety measures" simply become wasteful, obsessive, irrational and meaningless vehicles for harassment, intrusion and in this case, possible eradication of a species?
Recently, the government reviewed and finally changed its ridiculous policy of forcing small children to remove shoes and undergo "pat downs" at airports. (This should also be implemented for senior citizens.)
Well, its past time the government also reviewed and changed its equally ludicrous (and in this case) destructive policies of killing countless thousands of Canada geese for the infinitely few times that a plane and goose collision might occur.  It simply is not possible to kill billions of birds over 4 Lbs (including eagles, pelicans, swans, egrets, etc, etc., etc.) to guarantee "airline safety."
If the FAA and other agencies were really serious about guaranteeing airline safety, they would go back to four engine planes, modernize the airline fleets and take measures to prevent pilot and air traffic controller fatigue and error.
We cannot simply continue to blame all of our own deficiencies and/or failings on Canada geese.
Indeed, these birds have seemingly become the "scapegoat" for almost everything gone wrong in our society.
If we could blame the economic crisis on Canada geese, we surely would. -- PCA

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Fuzzy Math and Double-Talk

In probably one of the very worst examples of "gobblety gook" double-talk ever seen, is this press release from the Department of Environmental Protection issued last June announcing the 2011 goose roundups:
Although claiming the Canada goose population to be "significantly down" -- as much as 80% near LaGuardia Airport and at least 50% in other areas of the city, the document nevertheless still claims a population of "20,000 - 25,000" geese in the NYC Metropolitan area -- the same figure that the USDA and other agencies have been quoting for the last four years.
One has to wonder why the media never questioned this?
If all the goose roundups, gassings and slaughters are so "successful," and the goose population is "significantly down -- at least 50%"  how could we still have the same exact number of geese in NYC?
Something is just not computing.
Personally speaking, I have little doubt as to the "success" of the goose roundups and slaughters.
Certainly, it helps explain why virtually no new geese flew into Harlem Meer over the past six weeks following the summer molts as had been typical in recent years.
The goose slaughters, as well as the harassment conducted on the birds at Central Park has resulted in the resident goose population in CP being virtually wiped out.
And yet, despite all this, Central Park still defends its "management program" for the geese and all the other agencies still defend goose roundups and slaughters!
It doesn't take a fortune teller to predict that were the entire NYC population of resident geese to become extinct, the agencies would still be claiming a "20,000-25,000"  resident Canada goose population in NYC  in order to justify killing any that might wander into the city. That number appears to be etched in stone.
Another disturbing part of this press release is this:
  "Following the surveys, USDA will remove Canada geese from areas where large populations of Canada geese are encountered during the molting season from the middle of June through the middle of July." 
Unfortunately, the DEP fails to define exactly what "large populations of Canada geese" actually are.
And we have seen from past USDA "Goose Removal Reports" that geese have been rounded up from areas with as few as seven geese.
Less than 20 geese have been "removed" from several other sites.
Apparently, 7 geese represents a "large population."
Of course ANY goose near an airport is considered one too many ("zero tolerance") and is likely to be shot.
Although this press release was issued this past June, this is the first time I recall seeing the actual document.
Though there were a  number of articles (especially in the NY Times) announcing the roundups in June, the pieces mostly put a positive spin on the press release.   "The geese to be donated to a Pennsylvania food bank!" 
Of course, "donating the geese to food banks" was also done in Madison, Wisconsin, this year -- after the doomed geese were turned into "gooseburgers," that is.
But, apparently now, Madison is dealing with an E-Coli outbreak:
Of course a connection or conclusion cannot be proven between the slaughtered geese and the disease outbreak a couple of months later, (since so many animals are made into "burgers"), but it does seem to be a bit of a coincidence. 
The bottom line to all this however, is the lack of question from the media.
For a "press release" the above document did not rouse even one meaningful question from the media.
Such as, "How can we still have 20,000- 25,000 geese in NYC when thousands have been killed in past few years and you claim the population is down by 50%?"
I am no math wiz, but those figures just don't add up.
"Fuzzy math" and double-talk is seemingly alive and well in NYC -- especially when it comes to the much beleaguered and maligned Canada geese.  -- PCA