Monday, September 5, 2011

Canary in the Coal Mine

New water has been added to Harlem Meer and as of Friday night, the levels are almost back to normal.   That is good news for Brad, the domestic, flightless duck.   I found Brad up on one of the grassy embankments early Friday evening.  He was by himself -- though surrounded by a small group of mallards.
Unfortunately, still no good news to report on Central Park geese, who to this point, remain missing in action.  The mystery as to why there are no visible geese in CP at this time has  not been solved with any certainty or proof.
But, as previously noted, my belief is that the low numbers of geese in NYC at this time are a direct result of the city's and USDA's "war on geese."
"Wars" do have a strange way of decimating populations.  -- Especially, when few people seem to notice them.
Yesterday, I sent out a correspondence to a colleague entitled, "Expectations."
What kind of expectations should (and can) we have of others who have signed on to the cause to protect the geese from slaughter?
That is an interesting and debatable question.
We of course live in a very complicated world where people are overwhelmed with "too much information" (especially with the Internet) and where the stresses of a poor economy have compelled many people to have to put more time in at work or take on extra family burdens and obligations.
It is understandable that even for the hundreds (or thousands) of people who sign up for various and serious causes, only a tiny percentage will remain regularly active or engaged.
With energy split and divided among so many critical animal abuse and cruelty issues, it becomes difficult keep a core group of people consistently engaged and ready to take quick action when it is required and necessary.
This problem came to light recently with the publishing of Mary Lou Simms' groundbreaking article,  Taxpayers subsidizing wild life extermination program, probe shows | The Tribu .
The online article ran in numerous newspapers around the country.
It was critical to share and garner enthusiastic public response via "like" clicks on the article pages and reader comments. 
But, that did not happen as it should have -- especially to a piece so well researched and documented.  ( Indeed, an investigative article that the geese have desperately needed for years.)
The online article has now apparently been allowed to expire in most of the sites with the exception of the link above.
That is troubling and leads one to wonder about the actual support around the country that the geese have?
Judging by the articles and columns circulating in the press today about geese, one would assume the geese to be only "nuisances" that need to be harassed, eradicated and hunted.
Unfortunately, this does not seem to indicate a whole lot of love or caring about geese.  And indeed, if there is public support for these animals at all in the real world, it is impossible to find in the national media with the lone exception of Simm's article.
(On a PR and media level, the geese are somewhere down with bedbugs and "flying rats" whatever those are.)
I am needless to say, quite worried and at this point, alarmed about this current state of reality.
Last night, I once again walked with my dogs around Turtle Pond, the lake and the Reservoir in Central Park.
Like Harlem Meer, there are some ducks on the watercourses, but no geese at all.
I cannot remember a time in Central Park over the last several years of not seeing any geese at all for a period of (now) more than two weeks.
Usually, the spring and early fall of the year are the times to see the most geese at Central Park.
Several recent hunting articles have reported "lower goose numbers" than in previous years and lower kill counts. 
Today, there is this article out of Buffalo which describes that despite having more high powered guns and sophisticated equipment, hunters this year only shot 19 geese on opening day of the season.  That is down by 2/3rds from last year's count of 56 geese.
If I was naively hoping to see some migratory geese fly into Central Park in the next couple of months, that hope is fast evaporating.
The geese may be able to survive the rigors of migration, but can they survive the newer and more high powered guns?
Can the geese survive in small flying groups as opposed to the huge flocks of hundreds they usually fly?
I honestly don't think so.
It is easy to shoot 19 birds.  But, not so easy or even legal to shoot 200 of them.
Last night I walked around Central Park and thought to myself that without the geese the park is:
Beautiful, but boring.
Active, but lifeless.
Near perfect, but depressing.
I will never "get used to" a park without geese.
But,  I sincerely believe that is where all of this going.
I know there are people around the country who care about the geese and want to protect them.
I just don't know where they all are in this season of the slaughter of the geese.
But, for myself, I feel I am witnessing the "canary in the coal mine."
But, the canary has a black head, white chin strap and once used to grace the skies over my city park in wondrous "V" formation with beautiful, haunting calls.
Calls that now vanish in the fading summer sun and dreaded oncoming of the fall.
The guns of autumn are already here as the canary disappears into the blackness of the mine;  its calls forever silenced.  -- PCA

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