Monday, April 30, 2012
For those who may think me sometimes overly dramatic or imagining the persecution and decimation of wildlife, (specifically, geese), there is this ground-breaking, investigative, article from yesterday's Sacramento Bee:
Though rare, once in a while, a real journalist actually asks questions and investigates.
The article is detailed and thorough and thus, I will keep this blog entry very short today in hopes that readers take the important time to read and share. -- PCA
Saturday, April 28, 2012
The highlights of my days are daily visits to Central Park. It does not matter the season, time of day (or night) or weather.
The sounds and sights of birds, squirrels, the occasional raccoon at night, the comical and feisty ducks and of course, my forever beautiful, peaceful and majestic geese. All of it, beautiful, melodic music and healing to the soul.
A few days ago, when enjoying Mama and Papa goose at the Boat Lake and taking in the other wondrous sights around me, I could not help but think, "If there really is a heaven, it is surely this!"
But, over the past few days, the usual recordings in this blog about the changes, beauties and behaviors of the geese and ducks in Central Park has been usurped by very disturbing political happenings.
Specifically, the proposed "bill" by Senator Gillibrand (D) New York, calling for "expedited removals" of Canada geese around New York City this summer -- including the one wildlife refuge in New York City, (Jamaica Bay Wildlife Refuge) where many hundreds of birds make their last stand.
Although the National Park Service has tried for years to forestall a USDA roundup of geese in the refuge, it is now being subjugated and overpowered by one ruthless, ill informed and ambitious Senator.
The following AP video which is posted on the Washington Post web site (and presumably many other news sites around the country) is an utter embarrassment to the citizens of New York. (Please comment to this horrendous piece.)
People around the country must be wondering what kind of dim wit and political opportunist did we elect to one of the highest offices in the land?
Not only does Senator Gillibrand murder the English language when saying "The geese can be handled in a very humanely way" but more importantly, her tendency to use numerous euphemisms to cloak what is really a proposed massacre leads one to question this woman's honesty, judgment, integrity and ethics.
Gillibrand obviously knows little of the issue and virtually nothing about "resident" Canada geese who actually fly very little compared to other birds more frequently hit by planes.
But, someone must have informed Gillibrand that geese are an "easy target" in the summer when flightless and besides, most people "don't care" about them.
This was a cheap and easy opportunity (at the expense of "lowly" geese) for political grandstanding and "cashing in" at the polls in November by pretending to "care about public safety."
But, as previously noted, if Gillibrand really "cared" about public safety on airliners, she would be tackling the really difficult issues of bird detecting radar, pilot fatigue, mechanical deficiencies of many airliners and the fact that most of the airliners are more than 30 years old.
But, "removing hazardous birds" is a good sound bite and plays into some people's fears from an old Hitchcock horror film.
Talk about emotional manipulation at its very worst.
As a New Yorker I am deeply ashamed and appalled by this media onslaught by a calculating, ambitious Senator. But, even more so, I am ashamed as a woman.
To listen to another woman refer to goose roundups, gassings and slaughters as "Tools" for the airline industry is a new emotional low for me personally. Moreover, use of the term, "humanely" when referring to brutality and carnage insults the intelligence and sensitivities of constituents whether man, woman, Republican or Democrat.
So much for the so-called, "gentle sex."
And now to run to Central Park to enjoy my beautiful and truly gentle Canada geese while still blessed with the opportunity to do so.
"Heaven" is under assault in New York City. -- PCA
Friday, April 27, 2012
The caravan of morbid, fear-engendering and goose-condemning articles continue to spin and spiral down a pike as if on some flaming highway to hell.
While difficult to choose from such array of mindless and spiritless propaganda to share, today there is this piece out of Sanford, New York which seems to take top prize in the tortures of the damned department:
First we destroy their eggs and then we destroy them!
Imagine a female goose sitting on eggs that will never hatch, while her gander stands in vigilant watch.
When finally realizing the failure and unviability of their attempted offspring, the mated and then flightless pair of geese will themselves be rounded up and transported to their deaths via human hands. -- Something no gander, no matter how courageous and determined to protect his mate, can defend against.
One is almost at loss of words to say about the continuing and expanding carnage -- like a runaway train hell bent on mayhem and destruction.
But, for sure it is the fact that the geese are flightless for six weeks during the summer (when molting) that makes them such easy prey and appealing scapegoat for those who erroneously believe they can buy and sell a perception of "safety" by killing lots of geese.
Although other birds, such as starlings and sea gulls are struck far more often by planes than geese, the other birds are capable of flying (and escape) year round.
God has apparently bequeathed on the geese, their special crosses to bear in both flightlessness and size. One cannot help but wonder if this was to "tempt and test" human capacity to either pillage and plunder or overcome obstacles through creativity, inventiveness and moral resolve?
Certainly, it is "easy" to round up and kill those without fangs or claws to fight back and without use of wings to escape.
But, few in power seem to ask if this is the "right" thing to do?
If we believe in God and that He created all of nature, then are we not failing His "tests and trials" by beating up on the defenseless while at the same time, claiming noble purpose?
Along with everything else, Gillibrand's bill and these kinds of actions are cowardly and bullying as they prey upon the truly helpless and meek.
Moreover, such actions are bewildering when especially considering all else that humans are capable of achieving and developing in this technically advanced age.
From building majestic cities, to the development of remedies for disease to the creation of gadgets that do everything from washing dishes to taking us on flights across the universe, we are a highly creative, inventive species capable of extremely complex problem solving.
And yet, we cannot figure how to glide a plane across the skies without crashing into a flock of birds?
Perhaps the will simply isn't there to solve this as it is easier and tempting to kill birds and specifically blame and scapegoat geese for our failings, inertia and laziness?
"Where there's a will, there's a way," goes the old adage -- and that's generally true in almost all human pursuits -- except this one.
Apparently, we don't bother to pursue real "safety" creativity when the perception of it is easily achieved through arrogance, bullying, abuse of power, propaganda and carnage.
Jesus is quoted in the bible as saying, "The meek shall inherit the earth."
If that be the case, then all our mad pursuits, persecutions and massacres of geese might ultimately be for naught as it will be they who end up with a peaceful planet and not us.
But, first there are the crosses to bear. -- PCA
Thursday, April 26, 2012
A barrage of unsettling and disturbing articles from yesterday and today:
The only one of the three that makes small attempt to present another side of the issue and not use euphemisms to cover up goose slaughter and gassing is the piece from the Wall Street Journal.
But, it is apparent that one of our New York Senators (Gillibrand) is sending out press releases touting her bill to expedite the "removals" and slaughters of New York City geese (as if they weren't occurring impulsively and insanely enough).
And as one politician goes, surely will go others -- like lemmings rushing to a banquet.
Ah, "The goose that lays the golden egg" of political opportunity and media points!
But, how desperate does one truly need to be to rush head-long into destruction of nature and wildlife simply because something "sounds good?"
Is this the age of the modern, political "Mad Men" (or women)?
Granted, it is a great sound bite to say, "We cannot and should not wait another day to act while public safety is at risk."
But, simply looking for easy scapegoats is usually no remedy for anything..
And that is exactly what has happened here.
Gillibrand's proposed bill is akin to sending an innocent person to jail for a crime s/he did not commit for the sake of being able to say, "We did something. We took action!"
The Wall Street Journal article points out that some airline collisions are occurring high in the air, as did flight 1549's collision with two migratory geese from Canada in 2009.
(The fact is, we could have killed every goose in NY state in 2008 and it would NOT have prevented that incident.)
"Resident" Canada geese loafing in city parks or Jamaica Bay Wildlife Refuge tend to fly low in the air, if indeed they fly at all.
Those collisions occurring at altitudes of more than 500 feet suggest strikes with migratory birds flying over the Atlantic flyway of which New York City is a part. .
Thus, even were we to kill every Canada goose residing in New York City, it would do nothing to prevent these kind of bird strikes and thus do nothing to insure "public safety."
But, it is a good sound bite and one which the press is only too happy to pounce on and extol.
Who cares if its true or not?
Who cares about the painstaking work of seeking and implementing real and effective solution?
Who cares whether we send innocent people to jail or thousands of innocent geese to their deaths as long as we can say, "We did something. We took action."?
Ah, the "Mad Men" -- and women of 2012.
We have come a long way, baby.
For even women now recognize the value of those geese who lay the golden eggs of political points, opportunity and expediency.
Who cares if people go down in a plane after hitting any migratory bird -- other than a Canada goose?
And who cares if the geese eventually go extinct -- as they almost did in the last century when we had no official "wars" against them? -- PCA
Wednesday, April 25, 2012
It is almost impossible to keep up with all the bad news happening to geese in recent days.
But, in less than a week, we have had two airline collisions with birds in New York City and in the most recent incident, the birds were identified as "two big geese."
(Notice in the above article how the pilot says "the plane hit geese," but the Post says the geese "slammed" into the plane -- as if the geese were suicidal terrorists.)
Needless to say, this is further propaganda and ammunition for New York City's "war on geese" both in the press and now the halls of Congress.
One of the two New York Senators (who coincidently is running for reelection this November) has already targeted the geese for further slayings by introducing a bill in the Senate that would "speed up" USDA "removals" this summer and even put a bull's eye over the geese and other birds at Jamaica Bay Wildlife Refuge.
Senator Kirsten Gillibrand, (D) NY, though normally good on animal issues, is, in this case, responding with typical "knee jerk" reaction as has already been covered in numerous blog entries here.
Whenever "something bad" happens, then some politicians immediately jump to what seems easy and quick PR remedy," rather than actually investigating the responsible and effective ways to make our skies, environments and airliners "safer."
That "easy solution" is to round up and kill a whole lot of geese, presumably so people feel "good" that something is being done and the Senator is doing her job.
But, nothing could be farther from the truth.
Killing a lot of birds does not insure our pilots are not fatigued or that the aircraft are not compromised mechanically or that anything is being done to improve and implement state of the art avian radar (which would prevent bird strikes).
Rather, it is like blowing up icebergs after a ship plunged to the depths of the ocean 100 years ago (killing almost 1,500 people) after hitting one.
Such irresponsible actions, "bills" and laws only kill a lot of birds. But, unless they can kill EVERY bird who flies, then they in fact, do NOTHING to "guarantee airline safety."
It is important that people concerned about this fiasco call Sen. Gillibrand's offices (both in DC and NY) TODAY to protest this knee jerk and outrageously cruel response:
Washington, DC. (202) 224-4451 New York City (212) 688-6262.
The lives of ALL New York City geese might very well depend upon it. -- PCA
(Photos: 1-- Brad, Piggly and Wiggly, the three domestic, flightless ducks yesterday at Harlem Meer. Holding down their territory and keeping other birds at bay. 2-- One of two pairs of geese at Harlem Meer yesterday. Geese and duck numbers low at Central Park these days. Perhaps the birds are getting the word that New York City parks are dangerous places in late spring and early summer.)
No sooner than writing about Michigan's seemingly senseless war on geese yesterday, then there is this piece today from the same state:
One is at loss at what to say other than, "First the geese and now the swans."
Last night, I watched part of a series on Animal Planet entitled, "Wild Russia."
It is noteworthy (and shocking) when experiencing this extraordinary and beautifully photographed series to realize how many animal species have been driven to near extinction in almost every part of the globe -- and now only exist in the far and deepest reaches of wild Russia.
One cannot help but wonder if (at the rate we are going), geese and mute swans will one day have to join other disappearing species in this harsh and remote land in the battle to survive an increasingly human hostile world?
In case some wonder how and why so many animal species descend to these desperate points of survival, we only have to look at what's happening around us now. Specifically, the intolerance towards and vilification of any wildlife that happens to "get in our way" or inconvenience us.
That is why I am so grateful for every day that I see my "special geese or ducks" are still surviving in Central Park.
One learns in this intolerant climate, never to take anything for granted. -- PCA
Tuesday, April 24, 2012
Two, very contrasting articles from yesterday. One of hopeful and one of abysmal note.
The first piece is from New Zealand and describes how an airline pilot was able to safely and successfully maneuver and land a plane in order to avoid hitting a flock of geese:
This piece is significant because it suggests that when pilots are unfatigued, fully alert and paying attention, it is possible to avoid bird strikes even when unexpectantly confronted with the likelihood of one.
The second article is from Fenton, Michigan -- a place that has recently been in the news for seeking solution for its "problem geese." Apparently, Fenton has elected to "round up" the estimated 40 geese from Mill Pond this summer. And although the short article is remiss in saying what will actually be done once the geese are "rounded up" (i.e. send to slaughter, hunting range or gassed), one can be quite certain that any geese "rounded up" will shortly thereafter be dead:
(For other current articles and information, please go to our special FB page for geese:
The disturbing part of the latter article is that Fenton has been offered non-lethal suggestions for effective means of keeping geese at bay. But, Fention has instead elected to take the easiest, cheapest and infinitely cruel way out. -- Pouncing on flightless birds and whatever baby goslings they have during the molting season and sending them all to death.
The fact that this carnage will only cost the city "$1,000" suggests there are likely far fewer than"40 geese" which is a quote from last summer by a disgruntled resident who apparently hates geese.
A thousand dollars seems very cheap considering the costs of actual roundup, transportation, whatever method of killing and labor.
One wonders if it is only 10 geese (or even fewer) at Mill Pond?
The contrast in the two news stories is stark and revealing.
The first article describes that it is possible for pilots to avoid bird strikes -- even when, "A flock of geese had materialised right in front of the plane."
It is an example of a human taking responsibility for self and altering course (literally) rather than expecting nature and others to change for him/her.
This is actually a lesson taught in psychology classes or therapy sessions: "The only one you can control or change is yourself, not others."
Unfortunately, the second case (Fenton, Michigan) is example of humans, not only attempting to "change" nature (and "others") but actually destroying it. All because some people consider geese a "nuisance" and inconvenience near a lake front home.
The question is, why did such people buy homes near lakes where waterfowl live or frequent the places where geese swim or graze?
One would think it comparatively easy to avoid that which one does not appreciate or "like."
As noted yesterday, it is both, unreasonable and unrealistic to expect flock birds (such as geese) to "change" and behave like solitary predators (such as owls or hawks) to suit our whims and desires. It is folly and arrogance to expect nature to change and accommodate for us, rather than vice versa.
The only ones we ultimately "control" and have the ability to change are ourselves. -- PCA
Monday, April 23, 2012
Some may surmise when reading certain entries in this blog, that the writer is over-reactive and paranoid in fearing that Canada geese may eventually go the way of the Doe Doe bird due to the widespread culling, egg destruction and harassment campaigns being conducted against geese both, locally and around the world.
"Extinct" may seem like an irrational fear -- especially when one considers that midway through the last century, captive breeding and release techniques were employed by wildlife managers when geese almost did go extinct due to over-hunting and loss of habitat.
Surely, were the geese to totter on the brink of extinction again, wildlife managers would do the same to insure that hunters always had "game" birds to shoot.
And yes, that is a likely scenario. But, it is not one that brings comfort or assurances that geese will ultimately survive both, the natural challenges of nature AND the mindless and seemingly endless assaults and decimations against them at the hands of man.
There is, after all that law in physics about perpetual motion to consider. -- Once something is in motion and gaining momentum, it is very hard to stop.
If I am thus, unduly concerned or "paranoid" about the overall survivability of geese over the long haul, it is mainly due to the barrage of negative press and actions that these birds have been subjected to for almost ten years. -- Actions and vilifications that only seem to be accelerating and gaining fierce, almost unstoppable momentum with time.
Recently, there were two new articles to add to the witches brew of denunciations and "evil spells" visited upon the geese.
The first one is out of Minneapolis, Minnesota and details plans to "manage" geese in area parks via "summer roundups" (i.e. gassings or slaughter), "public shoots," egg destruction, fencing, expanded hunting and harassment that includes dogs and "explosive shells."
One has to seriously wonder how there will be any geese left in this area should all the "plans" be put into full motion and succeed?
But, perhaps more alarming than the actual plans to "reduce" geese is the seeming ignorance on bird behavior expressed by one of the wildlife managers:
"If the geese would remain evenly distributed across the park, we probably wouldn't have a problem at all."
Geese are not solitary, predatory birds, like hawks or owls that "evenly distribute" around an area!
Geese are a prey animal in nature and thus, a flock bird!
And like almost all "prey" animals, the geese have to remain in (normally large) flocks or groups for safety and survival. Even during the nesting season when breeding birds pair off, the non-breeding geese remain in gaggles for purposes of safety and organization.
A lone goose will simply not survive like an owl or hawk.
That a "Wildlife Manager" would make this kind of statement seemingly lamenting that a flock bird doesn't act like a predator is baffling to say the least. Do such people seriously believe that geese will suddenly "distribute" themselves evenly around a park -- and thus undo a million years of biological programming because some people in Minnesota (and other areas) want them to?
It seems that some "Wildlife Managers" making decisions in urban parks have never heard the phrase, "Birds of a feather flock together" or watched a nature program.
When asserting statements like this are "alarming" it is because such individuals seem to believe that all the culling and harassment activities will eventually get the population of geese down to some ""acceptable" level that is akin to that of hawks or owls.
But, geese aren't hawks or owls..
Trying to get prey animals down to a population level of predators is contrary to nature and is likely to result in either the species "compensating" for the predation through expanded breeding and becoming more wily (like coyotes). -- Or, eventually going extinct due to an inability to adapt to the predations (especially if the ability to reproduce is taken away -- which it is through egg addling).
Minneapolis (and other locations) may think that ten geese "distributed" around the parks is a doable goal and acceptable number.
But, it is neither "doable" nor realistic.
Another disturbing article published over the past few days and closer to home, is this one out of New York State:
This piece is disturbing on many levels, but mainly in the attempt by the DEC to seemingly weaken federal protections of Canada geese under the Migratory Bird Treaty Act of 1918.
For example, this paragraph:
"DEC (Department of Environmental Conservation) issued a General Depredation Permit (GDP) that allows the disturbance or removal of ...Canada geese or their nests and eggs under certain conditions and circumstances without having to apply for individual state and federal permits."
Moreover, by classifying the geese as "nuisance" it seems almost anything goes against the animals.
Small wonder we are frequently seeing news accounts in recent months describing geese in urban areas or parks being shot with arrows, deliberately run over by cars or hacked to death and their bodies left to rot.
Perpetrators obviously don't see anything wrong with egregious acts of cruelty against so-called "nuisance and pest" animals. Some probably think they are doing their communities (and the DEC) a favor.
And so, the witches brews continue to boil in the pot and the spells wildly put into motion.
The questions to ask are, when does the pot boil over and when do the spells stop -- if ever?
(Were geese voodoo dolls, they would be filled with pins by now.)
Will we look around one day to surprisingly discover geese are not hawks who "distribute" themselves evenly around a park to a number we consider "ideal" or "optimum?"
Will there eventually be no geese left to harass, chase, shoot, use explosives to scare, destroy eggs of and gas and slaughter?
As noted yesterday, we did not go out and blow up icebergs even when more than 1500 people lost their lives on a ship that collided with an iceberg and sank.to the bottom of the sea.
So, why do we set out to kill a million geese because some people are inconvenienced by them? --- PCA
Saturday, April 21, 2012
(Photo: A visiting gaggle of juvenile geese at the Boat Lake early this morning. Papa goose honked at them from a distance and laid out a boundary, but otherwise left them alone)
The media still in a buzz over the bird strike of a couple of days ago near Kennedy Airport..
Today, there is this piece from the New York Post:
The short article states that Kennedy planes "smacked" into birds, rabbits and other wildlife 257 times in 2011 according to FAA data. This represents an increase of 17% over 2010 and 55% increase from 2009.
Of course what this article (nor any media report) doesn't provide is any data on how many more airliners are flying in the air, including privately owned planes.
Rather, the implication is that wildlife is wildly increasing and either deliberately running into planes or flying into them -- like suicide terrorists.
One wonders, with this kind of reporting, when we will declare a war on rabbits (as well as geese) for airline safety?
The article further states that the USDA has been "working on a plan for the past two years to protect planes from geese and other birds in Jamaica Bay."
It doesn't explain that the "plan" has been to round up thousands of geese and either gas or send them to slaughter -- nor that the plan doesn't just apply to Jamaica Bay, but in fact any area of New York City within 7 miles of any airport.
Birds of all kinds are routinely shot by sharpshooters near airports and of course the geese are quite literally "targeted" all over the country by gun, by gas chamber, by unending harassment and even destruction of their eggs.
It makes one fear for the few geese still managing to survive in parks and other areas around New York City, as well as appreciate them for the short time we actually may have them.
I for one, say a silent "thanks" to God every time I see Mama and Papa goose at the Boat Lake or the few other geese honking and flying over Central Park and settling down for brief periods at Harlem Meer or the Boat Lake.
I honestly don't know how long the geese will be allowed to exist in New York City -- especially with what now seems a resurgence in the media and political campaigns against, not just geese, but apparently all wildlife capable of walking, flying or swimming near an airport.
Who would think that a rabbit is some kind of "threat" to a 60-ton airliner?
Then again, a so-called "unsinkable" and powerful ship liner was taken down by an iceberg 100 years ago -- and icebergs neither fly, swim nor walk.
Perhaps this all says something about our arrogance and inabilities to appreciate the real powers of nature no matter how small or seemingly inconsequential .
Our real challenges seem to be the necessity to change ourselves and the transportation vehicles we rely on, rather than to "change" and attempt to wipe out and overpower nature.
(In the case of the Titanic disaster 100 years ago, we insure now that every ship has sufficient lifeboats and better map out potential dangers on sea -- We didn't set out to blow up all the icebergs.)
The prospect or "plan" to destroy nature, animals or any perceived "threats" seems an impossibility as long as any 5 lb animal can take down a 60 ton jet airliner or an ice berg can take down a ship.
We would quite literally need to obliterate nearly 95% of nature, including the non-viable.
Perhaps we wouldn't need ships or airliners then because there would be nothing of beauty or nature to see and enjoy.
We could simply stare at ourselves in mirrors or look at old photos and videos on You Tube. -- PCA
Friday, April 20, 2012
The news could not be worse for geese and many other birds in New York City today.
Yesterday, a bird strike occurred at JFK airport:
Although the Delta plane was able to return safely back to airport without injury to passengers (as usually occurs in bird strikes), the story was highlighted in the national media.
Moreover, while no identification has officially been made of the bird species, cell phone video taken on the plane suggests that it might have been a flock of geese the airliner collided with.
Should that turn out to be the case, then no geese in NYC can be considered safe from sharpshooters or "expanded" roundups over the upcoming summer.
As is typical in most media stories covering geese or bird strikes, reports are misleading and seemingly slanted to cause undue fear and paranoia in the public.
For example, the above report from ABC news mentions that bird strikes have increased over the past 20 years. It doesn't mention the vast increases in airline traffic over that same time. It also states that 219 people have died worldwide due to bird strikes since 1988. It doesn't state how many billions of people have flown safely since 1988. It is likely more people have died from lightening strikes or falling tree branches over the past 24 years.
But, this is a way to generate public fear and in some cases, loathing for birds -- (especially geese) and to build support for bird "culls."
In addition to being shown the old news clips of "miracle" flight 1549 in the Hudson every January to make a case for killing geese in New York City, we will presumably be shown the latest footage as well if the doomed bird indeed turns out to be a goose.
Anyone concerned about geese need be quite worried due to latest incident and its wide and distortive media coverage.
One can only imagine most of the fearful public cheering when Mayor Bloomberg announces an "expanded war" on geese while at the same time the media runs the video footage to repeatedly remind us of the "terror" that geese represent.
How dare birds fly in the air!
For that, they should all die. -- Rather than we return to building four-engine planes or better utilizing and perfecting avian radar. -- PCA
Monday, April 16, 2012
(Photo: Mama and Papa at Boat Lake. But, can Mama still fly?)
The heat is on.
Following one of the warmest winters ever in New York City with only 4 inches of snow and little rain, we are similarly on our way to one of the warmest springs ever with typical temperatures averaging 10 to 20 degrees above normal.
Should this tendency continue, one hates to imagine what the summer will be like. New York City summers are generally miserable with high humidity and heat, making it typically feel like a concrete and cement sauna during the months of July and August.
What is most concerning however, are the near drought conditions.
A few nights ago, there was a fire in Central Park. The fire occurred in the composting area near 106th Street and Fifth Avenue.
I don't recall a fire ever occurring in Central Park and I have lived in NYC all my life.
Fortunately, the NYC Fire Department was fast on the job and the park emerged from the fire fairly unscathed with just a few trees lost.
Reservoir levels also appear to be very low in Central Park. Although the Jackie Onassis Reservoir does not provide water for the city, it is concerning to see water levels so low as to almost see the base of the Reservoir in some areas. Garbage (plastic bottles, bags and other debris) strewn among the banks suggest things washing up that were probably tossed or blown in the Reservoir years or even decades ago.
Nevertheless, despite the strange anomalies, nature appears to be adapting to most of the changes.
Mallards routinely fly around the park these days and romantic pairs are sometimes seen strolling or grazing upon grassy park lawns (something not normally seen in winter). Geese too, move around more in spring than other times of the year.
In fact, a few nights ago, Papa goose took a flying tour around the Boat Lake.
But, it was odd that Mama was not flying with him.
At first I was disquieted when arriving to the Boat Lake and finding only one of the geese sitting atop the "safety" rock in the middle of the lake.
From a distance, I could not initially be sure which goose it was.
But, after a few minutes of careful observation, I figured the goose was Mama.
But, where was Papa? I could not see him anywhere!
Usually when seeing me, the two geese leave from wherever they are to come and greet me.
But, although Mama saw me, she made no motions to come my way. She simply continued to pearch on the rock, as if waiting for something -- or sitting on a nest.
A part of me wondered if Mama was indeed nesting on the rock and Papa was somewhere a short distance away guarding? Indeed, only when nesting have these two geese ever been apart in my observations of them over the past two years.
But, this didn't make sense in view of both the late date and the location. Mama and Papa always returned to Turtle Pond when planning to nest in the past.
When my concern began to rise to a state of alarm, there was suddenly the sound of loud honking coming from the sky above me and I looked up to see one goose flying in a circle around the lake.
Was it Papa?
The goose made a couple of lazy circles and then came skidding across the water in the direction of the rock where Mama stretched out her neck to honk and greet.
It was obviously Papa.
He climbed the rock where his mate dutifully waited for and welcomed him.
And following their greetings, both geese looked across the lake to where I stood on another rock.
Papa flapped his wings and loudly honked. And immediately, both geese left the safety rock to come swimming in my direction.
As usual, Papa "guarded" while I fed some treats to Mama. Only when Mama was finished and started to walk away, did Papa move forward to grab a couple of seeds for himself.
Finally, both geese left, (by then under the moonlight) to return to the safety of their "home" on the safety rock.
But, the strange events of the evening made me wonder about Mama's abilities to still fly?
I have not seen Mama goose fly at all since the spring of last year.
I shot a video of Mama and Papa flying together at Turtle Pond last April. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=x_GJ_2njB44 And obviously, the pair flew to the Boat Lake later in the spring or early summer of last year.
But, since that time, I am not aware of the mated pair leaving the Boat Lake or seen Mama fly at all.
While Mama's wings don't appear to be broken or injured, the feathers on them are more frayed and somewhat disheveled than those on Papa.
Mama sustained some type of injury on her right foot from last year that resulted in half the webbing disappearing. Did something happen to her wings as well?
I cannot be sure of the answers to these questions. Indeed, I am not sure if Mama cannot fly.
Perhaps Papa just went off on a brief joy fly the other day and left the little lady safely at home?
I don't know if that is typical behavior for ganders with mates who are or aren't nesting. If it is, its something I have not seen before.
What was interesting during that scenario, is that during the time Papa was flying around, Mama would not leave the safety of the rock -- even for me.
Rather, she patiently waited for Papa to return and then both geese came to me.
Last night, I returned to the Boat Lake, but this time both geese were together grazing along one of the embankments.
Upon recognizing me, Mama and Papa once again came my way. But, it was clear that both geese had eaten well for the day. Mama only ate a small amount (mostly to placate me) and Papa did not eat at all.
And then both geese bade their "goodnights" and swam away romantically under the moonlight to return to their rock home.
But, can Mama still fly?
That is the question.
And its one I probably won't have a quick or easy answer to anymore than the question of what the upcoming summer is going to be like in NYC.
One thing is relatively clear though:
Mama and Papa won't be having new babies this year.
I wonder in fact, if any geese in NYC will be allowed to have new babies this spring?
Little if anything about this past year seems "normal." -- PCA
Saturday, April 14, 2012
(Photo: Papa goose yesterday guarding Mama at Boat Lake.)
Although summer is not yet here, the "war on Canada geese" is in full throttle.
In the past week, there have been news accounts of 16 geese mysteriously slaughtered in one community (and their bodies left to rot), various goose harassment news videos, propaganda allegations of "attacking geese," derision of the Migratory Bird Treaty Act as presumably outdated and this NBC video today from Virginia:
(For other news articles and videos, please go to our FB page: Call of the Canada Geese page.)
The latest installment in the "war" on geese describes how ALL the geese in Albemarle Country were rounded up by the USDA last year and slaughtered.
But, that wasn't enough.
This year, the USDA is back to addle (i.e. destroy) the eggs of the TWO surviving geese on the lake. This, to the obvious dismay of community residents who rightly claim that the geese have all but vanished from the area.
Then again, the feelings of tax-paying, community residents don't matter when there is a war on wildlife to conduct. Presumably, the hope and plan is to insure that no new geese are hatched to replace the ones slaughtered, shot or lost to attrition. And that any remaining and surviving geese will ultimately be shot during expanded hunting seasons.
That is management to eventual extinction.
The last statement may sound alarmist in light of the fact that many geese still presently exist.
But, according to scientists, migratory populations of Canada geese are already in decline due to habitat loss and hunting. And so-called, "resident" geese are the targets of a seemingly never-ending war (around the world) that includes all types of outright destruction (i.e. gassing, slaughter, canned hunts, beating to death, expanded hunting), a wide array of harassment methods, habitat manipulation and finally (and perhaps most significant) egg destruction.
So what does that leave to survive and carry on the species a few years or decades down the line?
That might very well be the million dollar question.
It can be very difficult for humans to sometimes see the consequences of our actions when those actions are put into full motion with few checks and balances to measure, examine and if necessary, counteract them.
Some might argue that we have laws to protect animals from actual extinction at the hands of humans.
But, as pointed out in the last blog entry, the federal law passed in 1918 specifically to protect birds from being hunted or destroyed to extinction (The Migratory Bird Treaty Act) is frequently and recently being held up by the media as some kind of barrier getting in the way of "pest" geese and human desires to "get rid of them" ad infintum.
Some perhaps missed the significance of the news video posted the other day that referred to the Migratory Bird Treat Act as "Really old......but not going anywhere, any time soon."
The clear implication in that news clip was that the law is antiquated and out of date.
The Bill of Rights and the Constitution are "really old," too.
But, does anyone in their right mind question their importance and validity today?
Last year in New Zealand, the national law that afforded some protections for Canada geese as migratory birds was usurped and now anyone can kill geese any time, in any way, and for any reason.
We may think that the same thing could never happen in our country, but we should not place any bets on that.
Propaganda wars have a way of warping not only common sense, ethics and sound judgment, but sometimes actual laws.
Should the "Really old" media statement about the Migratory Bird Treaty Act set precedent and catch on to other media outlets, the geese could be in even deeper trouble than they are now.
Indeed, the only thing affording migratory (and some resident) Canada geese any protection at all presently is in fact, the Migratory Bird Treaty Act.
Should that federal law be usurped or further weakened, then it will open doors for Canada geese eventually going the way of the Passenger Pigeon -- of which there used to be hundreds of millions, but now are none. -- PCA
Thursday, April 12, 2012
Has as been repeatedly reported and evidenced in this blog for the past two years, media coverage on geese tends towards the poorly researched, extremely negative and in some cases, downright hysterical and destructive.
But, now there is a new low in media reporting and coverage: The mocking of actual law.
Falling into all three (and now four) categories, there is this example out of Greensboro, North Carolina today:
While the TV "news" piece is not at all unusual in hysterically depicting geese as "pests" and "people attackers" what sets it apart from the usual hype is its derision of the Migratory Bird Treaty Act of 1918, citing it as "REALLY old."
The obvious implication is that this vital law is somehow antiquated and should be dumped like an old cell phone or standard TV.
The Migratory Bird Treaty Act was passed in 1918 as acknowledgement and response to the fact that the Passenger Pigeon -- a bird that used to exist in the hundreds of millions was hunted to extinction in the beginning of the last century.
The hope and anticipation was that such wanton genocide of wildlife would not occur to another bird species again in the United States.
But, now in the endless and irrational vilification of Canada geese, this vital, protective law is also mocked and (like the geese themselves) vilified in the press.
But, the Migratory Bird Treaty Act does not only protect migratory Canada geese (whose numbers are actually depleted) in the wild, but thousands of other species of birds -- particularly those deemed as "game species" (which unfortunately, geese are).
One has to experience a sense of alarm when realizing media pieces like this.
While not probable that the Migratory Bird Treaty Act would be completely wiped off the law books by Congress, what is likely to happen (and already has) is that various "amendments" can be added that gradually usurp its power and reach, thereby rendering the Act into a much weaker and ineffective law.
Already steps have been taken over the past decade to remove many (if not most) Canada geese from the law's protection. That has occurred by the separating of Canada geese into two classifications: "Resident geese and Migratory geese."
Although exactly the same in gene and species, this bogus distinction in category of Canada geese allows for expanded hunting and governmental roundups and killings of so-called "Resident geese" while still maintaining some semblance of protection (under the law) of migratory geese.
The problem with this of course, is that there is no real way to decipher so-called, "resident" geese from migratory geese when simply looking at a bunch of geese in a park or on a pond.
One can only speculate and guess according to the time of year and observances over time of the birds' behaviors.
The media clip posted above used a cell phone camera video of a gander protecting his mate and nest by attempting to scare off an approaching human to make a case of geese "attacking" humans (the actual headline). This is distortion at best and hysteria at worst. The clip then proceeds to interview only two people, both of whom view geese as "nuisance" and one of whom even chases geese off the water with a small motor boat and a dog. (Should we then wonder why geese flee to nest in nearby business locations?)
The news clip further attempts to make the case of "too many geese" but only can actually show a total of four geese (not counting the two in the cell phone video). It quotes the goose harassing man claiming there are "22 geese" in the area.
Finally, the so-called news "report" derides the Migratory Bird Treaty Act and instructs viewers on how they can legally "get rid of geese."
But, whether there are in fact "22 geese" or only four in Greensboro, North Carolina, the bottom line is that we don't have to wait for USDA trucks to arrive in summer to city parks and other locations to round up and slaughter geese.
The geese (and now the Migratory Bird Treaty Act) are already being derided and destroyed in the media. -- PCA
Wednesday, April 11, 2012
A little surprising last night to find new geese at Harlem Meer.
That brings the current number up to more than a dozen when there were virtually none last week.
It is speculated that some of the geese are those flying out of the Boat Lake some days ago. (Currently, Mama and Papa are the only geese at the Boat Lake.)
I am still guessing that the geese at Harlem Meer are immature offspring of the few "resident" breeding pairs of geese who produced goslings over the past three years in Central Park. These include Mama and Papa in 2010, the one pair of Reservoir geese last year and another breeding pair who had goslings last year and the previous year at the South Pond.
So far this year, Mama and Papa do not appear to be nesting. But, the Reservoir geese have returned and appear fit enough to attempt breeding again. Since I normally don't get to the South pond (near 59th Street) I cannot speak to the situation there.
But, no geese have produced young at Harlem Meer in the three years that I have been frequenting the location. Rather, it seems to be a place for the younger geese to attempt to gather in small gaggles over the spring and very early part of the summer (prior to the molt). Last summer, only nine geese molted at the Meer.
I am of course concerned over any population of geese whose numbers in any location of Central Park might exceed more than a dozen over the summer.
I might have to start chasing the geese myself in June. (joke.)
If it seems "crazy" to be paranoid over more than a dozen geese in any location of Central Park, the prospect of more USDA goose roundups in New York City over the summer make such fears very rooted in reality.
Additionally, when it comes to things like roundups and goose harassment, it seems no number is "too low" for geese to be endlessly persecuted, chased and killed.
For example, today there is this Patch article and video from an Illinois golf club:
The video shows TWO geese being harassed by a Border Collie off a pond!
In all the goose harassment videos witnessed over the past two years, one has yet to see even one where more than a handful of geese were chased off a field, lake or pond.
It truly makes one wonder what happened to human tolerance and appreciation for wildlife?
If two geese are "too many" what is considered too few?
Obviously, there is no such number.
And less we think it only geese whose eggs are being destroyed and who are constantly being terrorized, today there is also this article out of Pennsylvania that now deems ducks a "threat" to airliners:
Apparently in 2010, ONE mallard caused $45,000 worth of damage to a plane during a collision. (One should bear in mind that the average mallard weighs less than a few pounds.) One mallard and a collision in 2010. And so now the label of "threat" and pest to ducks and a new campaign to "curtail" their numbers, as well as the geese.
But, again the questions: What number is "too many?" And what number is too few for the ducks and geese?
And apparently in both cases, the number is less than zero. -- PCA
Monday, April 9, 2012
Slight departure from the usual today.
As we will soon be approaching the "season of the witch" (i.e. goose roundups and slaughters throughout New York City parks and properties during the early summer), it is imperative to remind ourselves of the history of this issue and where we are today.
The piece below, prepared brilliantly and accurately by David Karopkin of Goosewatch, NYC carefully and methodically chronicles this.
Please take the time to thoroughly read, take notes and most importantly, sign up to become part of the growing eyes and ears looking out for and protecting New York City's maligned and forever threatened Canada geese.
We simply cannot blindly accept another season of under the radar, hidden bird slaughters throughout NYC without so much as one photograph to document the irrational horrors.
New Yorkers have to show that we are not "out to lunch" or wallowing in tides of indifference and helplessness to the decimation and destruction happening around us. -- PCA
Friday, April 6, 2012
(Photos: 1-- What clearly appears to be, dangling fishing line from tree at Boat Lake yesterday. 2-- Mama goose, with Papa directly behind her. Note missing webbing on half of her foot.)
Good news, bad news and the forever in-between.
First, the good news (and mostly, there is good news in today's entry).
It seems some of the calls made last week to city park agencies complaining about illegal and careless fishing resulted in better patrols and monitoring.
A couple of days ago, two police on motorcycles checked the large, food storage bag of a fisherman at the boat lake in Central Park. This was to presumably insure he wasn't taking fish home (catch and release fishing only in city parks). But, since the fisherman had recently arrived, he didn't have any fish in the bag. Police talked to him a while and then left him alone.
It was good to see this because it indicates law enforcement is doing a better job of monitoring the fishing in Central Park and hopefully, educating.
Now, the bad news:
Unfortunately, the cops can't be everywhere, all the time.
Yesterday, while revisiting the boat lake, I noticed what clearly appeared to be, fishing line dangling from a tree branch.
While the hanging fishing line doesn't necessarily pose a direct threat to Mama and Papa goose still at the boat lake (unless it falls into the water), it does pose immediate danger to any tree-flying birds.
I took a photo and reported it to Central Park and its ranger staff today.
Hopefully, rangers remove the line quickly before it ensnares tree-flying birds or falls into the lake and threatens turtles and waterfowl.
One needs to stay constantly on top of these matters. There are unfortunately, too many fisherpeople in our parks who, either don't know how to fish responsibly or don't care.
This ongoing saga to be continued....
There was a total of nine geese at the Boat Lake yesterday. Mama and Papa in their usual locations and seven other geese swimming further south on the lake.
But, while enjoying special moments with and photo-taking of Mama and Papa on a rock, the seven geese took off from the lake in two separate skeins. First a group of three and shortly thereafter, four geese. The geese flew low in the sky, barely topping the trees and presumably "pond hopping."
This pleased me as it seemed to suggest that the geese currently at Central Park are not being "harassed" as much as (like the mallards) doing their share of "joy riding" or flying for the fun and adventure of it.
Since the geese were not paired off, one suspects they may be the grown offspring of Mama and Papa, as well as the two other Central Park goose pairs who have produced goslings over the past three years.
Not a big population of Central Park "resident" geese, for sure. Nevertheless, one has to hope that not all of the (roughly, 20) Central Park geese gather and molt in one location over the summer as such could be a deadly invitation to the USDA.
It is also comforting to guess that (due to the late date and location) Mama and Papa goose are not attempting to nest this year (thought that is not yet certain).
This is pleasing to me for several reasons: First, new goslings are obviously not welcomed in New York City. Were Mama and Papa to nest again, there is good chance their eggs would be oiled. But, even more compelling than that is the knowledge that (as noted) Mama and Papa are not young geese. I personally believe the stress of nesting, hatching and rearing young would particularly be too much for Mama and could endanger her life.
Since Mama and Papa are so welded together as to practically be linked at the wing, it is hard to imagine one without the other. The fact is, these two geese have been a mated pair for many years. Looking at old and current photos of them, they are constantly aware of each other and seem to think from one heart and one mind.
Both geese even walk with a pronounced limp -- Mama because she is missing half the webbing on one of her feet. Papa, because of either a painful past encounter with a snapping turtle or fishing line.
Perhaps that is why I am so adamant and "emotional" about protecting birds from ensnarement in carelessly discarded fishing lines. I don't want to see further foot and leg damages to Mama or Papa. (Just seeing the crippled sea gull recently at Harlem Meer flying with at least six feet of fishing line dangling from his/her leg was enough to send me into a tizzy of phone calls and protest.)
Nevertheless, despite the worries and disdain over careless fishing in our parks and the dread and loathing of another threatened USDA goose roundup and slaughter in New York City, there are those wonderful and lovely moments when encountering other lovers of wildlife Central Park.
Last night for example.
A young, Asian couple was behind me and curiously watched when I was photographing the two geese and Mama took some sunflower seeds from my hand.
"They really seem to know you." the young man smiled.
"Oh yes, these are really sweet and social geese!" I answered cheerfully.
"Are they Canadian geese?"
"Well, actually, 'Canada geese' is the correct term......"
The curious couple then asked other questions which I was only too happy to answer -- including telling them the entire history of Mama and Papa and the goslings they raised together in 2010.
"I hope my girlfriend and I can be like them," the young man smiled again while softly gazing into the eyes of the young woman beside him.
"Well, if you are anything like these two geese, then you will be hobbling around in your old age together!" I laughed.
A short time later, Mama and Papa left to return to the favorite "safety" and romantic rock in the middle of the lake and the couple and I said good night.
But, when finally leaving the Central Park Rambles to return home, I noted the young couple sharing a gentle kiss beneath a tree.
I wondered if the young woman realized she just had a marriage proposal a few minutes earlier?
All thanks to and because of two, very romantic, "soul mate" geese. ;) -- PCA
Wednesday, April 4, 2012
(Photo: One of about a dozen geese at Harlem Meer last week.)
Some clarifying news out of Fenton, Michigan today.
The 40 or so geese at the area are apparently to be rounded up and "relocated" this June.
The likelihood is that the geese will be placed into a hunting area. (If not, then they are likely to return to Fenton.)
Although one is still compelled to question the need to "get rid of" 40 geese and wonder where they are being sent, the news is nevertheless better than the geese being rounded up and gassed or slaughtered.
There are surprisingly, a number of positive media pieces (and videos) today on the geese, including two of nesting geese in Oklahoma and Illinois where the people actually care about protecting them. To see these videos and other articles, please go to our special goose FB page:
In more local happenings, I was surprised last night to find only one goose at Harlem Meer. I suspect the one goose might have been protecting a nesting mate (He did not appear ill or injured) or for some other reason, did not leave with the other dozen or so geese at the Meer a few days ago.
Perhaps this explains the "12 new geese" seen at the Boat Lake on Monday?
But, if the new geese at the Boat Lake are in fact, the Harlem Meer geese, one has to wonder if they were harassed from the Meer or left on their own?
I am not a supporter of harassment in general -- especially when there are low numbers of geese at a park lake or pond. While some people consider more than one goose "too many" I don't believe a dozen geese to be a large number by any stretch of the imagination.
On the other hand, we in NYC have to be downright paranoid about ANY number of geese that exceeds single digits in our parks over the summer due to the threatened USDA roundups and slaughters.
So, while I don't like or see any "need" for goose harassment in Central Park, I am not in position to vigorously protest them either (if in fact, they are occurring now).
The "alternative" could be far worse.
Still, one really has to hope the geese are not harassed at the Boat Lake. I am not sure that Mama goose particularly is robust enough to be chased all over the park.
Moreover, any geese harassed out of Central Park entirely, are likely to end up in one of the other city parks where they WILL be rounded up and slaughtered this summer.
There are no easy answers to any of this.
Suffice it to say that we in New York City find ourselves in the ugly and angst position of dreading every summer as long as the City and USDA is waving threats of mayhem and destruction over ours and the geese's heads.
September cannot come soon enough. -- PCA
Tuesday, April 3, 2012
(Photos: 1-- Mama and Papa on their favorite rock at the Boat Lake yesterday. 2-- Mama and Papa arriving in greeting. 3-- Brad, the undisputed, "King" of Harlem Meer with his two charges, Piggly and Wiggly.)
Disturbing news out of Fenton, Michigan today.
The article (like so many on geese in recent years) provides very little real information. Although stating that 40 geese will be "rounded up," it doesn't say who is doing the roundup, when it will occur or what will happen to geese. (Usually, "rounded up" geese are either gassed or sent to slaughter.)
So much for the "What, when, where and why" of journalism, 101.
When the subject is geese, the credo rather seems to be, "Just throw crap at the wall to see what sticks." This is a typical, "crap on the wall" article in more ways than one.
One seriously wonders if newspapers these days still have editors?
In more local happenings, there were 12 new geese at the Boat Lake in Central Park yesterday. Either the geese were really late migratory stragglers or more likely, they were harassed from some other location and sought the Boat Lake as refuge.
Mama and Papa goose (who are still at the Boat Lake) did not pay any mind to the newcomers Rather, they relaxed and preened on their favorite island rock rising up in the water while the visiting geese swam further away. All was peaceful and serene.
It is probably a good thing that the visiting geese did not fly into Harlem Meer.
Brad, the flightless, but apparently very dominant duck at Harlem Meer is not taking well to any avian visitors these days.
Rather, Brad has returned to his normal "spring time" behavior. And that is to intimidate, bully and harass virtually every duck or goose that dares to venture anywhere near Brad and his two charges, Piggly and Wiggly.
A few nights ago, Brad jumped on, held down and appeared to be trying to suffocate (by spreading his wings over) a female mallard.
Horrified, I grabbed Brad, pulling him up enough for the mallard to escape into the lake. But, even then, he continued to chase and push the little brown mallard down in the water with Piggly (the other male, domestic duck) aiding him in the harassment.
Eventually, the female mallard escaped and flew off. And fortunately, since neither Brad nor Piggly can fly more than a few feet, the mallard successfully escaped.
A few weeks ago when Chrissy (the lame mallard) and most of the other ducks and geese left Harlem Meer, I surmised that to be due to migratory and breeding patterns.
But, I am now wondering if most of the mallards left the Meer because they anticipated the "bullies" that Brad and his two "domestic" cohorts would soon become? (Although, in all fairness, Wiggly doesn't usually participate in harassing other ducks. She just likes to grab the food.)
These days, I am forced to eat a little "crow" considering how I have worried over these flightless, "barnyard" ducks in the past.
They are obviously well able to look after themselves, especially in the spring.
Ducks can be extraordinary territorial and feisty in the spring. -- Far more so than the peaceful geese who, except when defending and protecting nests, mates and goslings generally accept and get along with other waterfowl.
The two mated geese who returned to the Reservoir a couple of weeks ago are still there.
My guess is that they will once again attempt to nest as they successfully did last year (although eventually losing two of their five goslings last summer).
I am surmising however, that Mama and Papa goose at the Boat Lake for almost a year now will not attempt to nest.
So far, Mama and Papa have given no indications for nesting, though it is still a little early to be actually sitting on eggs.
But, I am making the speculation based on the fact that Mama and Papa did not return to Turtle Pond this year (their usual nesting location) and that Mama especially is on in years.
But, still the two geese are extraordinarily alert and devoted in their loyalties to both, each other and even to humans.
Yesterday, when arriving to the Boat Lake (as I go now a couple of times a week), I stood on a rock and admired Mama and Papa from across the lake.
Although at least 50 or 60 feet away, Papa immediately recognized me and honked out a loud greeting while gregariously flapping his wings.
He then descended the rock and swam towards me with Mama following close behind.
Although I had brought a small sandwich bag of black oiled sunflower seeds with me, the two geese were not especially hungry. Rather they seemed to come in simple greeting.
Mama did peck at some of the seeds on the rock and from my hand, while Papa stood sentry watch over her. Only when Mama had her fill and walked away did Papa finally grab a few morsels for himself.
This quiet, undying devotion, loyalty and self sacrifice observed in geese is rarely seen in most animals, (including the human animal) and it is something that continues to amaze about Canada geese.
It makes one wonder what happens to a goose or gander if and when a mate dies?
Then again, that is something I don't really want to think about and hope never to have to see and realize.
I will simply never understand the seemingly unending and irrational human hostility and resentment against these wondrous, peaceful and devoted creations of nature. -- PCA