Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Extinction by a Thousand Cuts

No sooner are we seemingly done with goose roundups, slaughters and gassings, when columns and articles turn to "expanded hunting seasons" on geese and "larger bag limits."
This outdoors column out of Fargo, North Dakota today describes the hunting season for resident geese to start next month (August) and each hunter will be able to "take" up to 15 geese a day.
As in the north east, the so-called "resident" goose population in North Dakota was (according to the column), established decades ago through captive breeding and "release" of semi-tame birds throughout the state mostly as targets for hunter's bullets.
Basically, we have a species almost driven to extinction by hunters and "wildlife biologists" that is then somewhat artificially created and released all over the state.
What is so patently astounding in pieces like this is the question of whether these "experts" ever considered that birds bred, hatched and released in this country would have no instinct to "migrate" to places they had never been?
Did the biologists know nothing about natural goose behavior and life patterns when embarking on this program of captive breeding and release so many years ago?
It reminds one of the old commercial, "It's not nice to fool with mother nature."
But, we did fool with mother nature, both by almost hunting the geese to extinction and then by trying to "correct" the first mistake by creating another one -- or in this case, by creating an almost entirely different bird species.
A goose that was native and "resident" to this country. A goose completely devoid of instinct to "migrate" to Canada or the Arctic.  A goose hatched and raised by humans and therefore, if not wholly tame, well acclimated to human activities and human presence.
Now, almost two decades later, we both laud the "success" of the Canada goose breeding and release programs as well as curse them.
Now, across the country resident Canada geese are deemed "pests" and accused of everything from taking down planes, to disrupting golf games, to "pooping" on lawns to "fouling water" to "attacking little children" (all of which is fabrication or extreme and wild exaggeration.).
And so it appears that now we are attempting to correct the first two mistakes with a third mistake.
That of trying to eradicate resident Canada geese throughout most of the country (38 states to be precise.)
Of course, none of the articles or columns directly say that in so many words.
But, make no mistake.  That is the actual goal.
The assumption is that there will always be migratory geese to shoot during the regular hunting seasons.
But, statistics show that migratory goose numbers have been in decline for some time (which was of course the case when some migratory geese were finally captured decades ago to be put into captive breeding and release programs).
One thing is for certain:  Despite the intelligence, adaptability, acclimation to humans and sheer wile of resident Canada geese, it is hard to see how they ultimately survive the never ending assaults that range from egg destruction, to harassment, to roundups and slaughters to "expanded" hunting seasons with huge bag limits.
Even wily coyotes wouldn't be able to ultimately survive all that.
It is speculated that a decade or two from now, there will no longer be "resident" Canada geese anywhere in the country.
Will we then refer to that as "success" while at the same time bemoaning the lack of geese to shoot?
Will we then look to the few migratory geese still surviving to address any concerns about "endangerment" or even possible extinction?  Will we then start the cycle of errors all over again by capturing some of the migratorys to place in captive breeding and release programs?
Rather than learning anything from past mistakes, we seem rather to repeat them over and over -- all the while failing to observe or understand actual goose behavior and life patterns.
All the geese know is that for them, it is death by a thousand cuts.
The question is, will we able to see that before a species actually goes extinct?
Judging by our history with thousands of other animal and bird species, the answer to that would be "no."
Rather it is, extinction by a thousand cuts.   -- PCA

No comments: