Friday, August 31, 2012

To Each His Own, Naturally -- A Lone Goose Still Waits

(Photo -- Danny.  Alone again, naturally -- despite arrival of new goose family)

Not expecting any changes last night, I didn't bring my camera when going to Harlem Meer.

But, of course that is almost to always guarantee there will be change.

The ducks were gathered along the embankment in their usual cluster. Brad, Wiggly, Honker and all their pals waddled to greet me when I arrived. That was normal and routine.

But, I did not immediately see Danny, the lone goose on the embankment and wondered briefly where he was?

Looking out over the darkened water, I could soon make out a goose. 

And then another and another and another!

There was in fact, a whole family of geese!

Slowly, the geese approached and after some initial caution, hopped up upon the embankment with daring and confidence. 

There were 8 of them!

I looked closely at the newly arrived family to see if I recognized them.

But, I did not.

They were not Papa and Mama goose from Turtle Pond, (recognizable by lame legs) nor were they Buster and his family, recognizable by Buster's usual feisty and pushy behavior around other waterfowl.

Rather, they appeared to be a rather youthful family, the gander of which was surprisingly peaceful and laid back around the ducks.

The family of geese did not directly approach me, but appeared to be curious about the scene before them.  The gander took up a sentry position while his mate and youngsters began to graze on the grass.

It was about that time that a ninth goose swam across the water and climbed on to the embankment.

It was Danny!

Danny carefully gazed at the new goose family and the gander immediately stood at attention and stared at him.

Is there going to be a problem? I wondered.

There was no problem or confrontation.

But, it was quickly obvious that this new family of geese was not the "lost family" that Danny has been waiting and searching for over the past month.

One could almost imagine the daddy gander of the new family wondering why there was a lone goose in the area and Danny signaling through some kind of non-threatening body language that he represented no challenge to the visitors.  

Danny cautiously waddled up to me and took some treats from my hand.

The new family, including the gander returned to grazing on the grass, though the sentry goose continued casual vigilance.

This continued for some time, while I backed off and sat on a rock to observe.

What was most striking was the difference in body language and behavior between the new goose family and Danny.

All the geese in the family appeared perky, confident, secure and "happy."

How does one discern "happy" in geese?

Its hard to describe in words as it appears to be more "vibe" or "aura" than anything else.

The postures of the family were confident, their heads high and they mostly stayed in a tight knit, relaxed, "cheerful" group.

Nothing about them appeared nervous, wary, defensive or even particularly cautious.  They did not flinch when people walked by nor displayed any feistiness or nervousness towards the raucous, noisy ducks.  It was apparent that the new geese were more than comfortable in their new environment, walking freely about and nibbling at the grass.  

Contrast that to the still very cautious and somewhat "nervous" Danny who rarely appears totally in sync and comfortable in an environment without his family.

I rarely if ever see Danny casually nibbling at the grass.  If he grazes at all it is with herky jerky motions, grabbing a quick bite and then quickly looking up.

Danny's walk is different too.

After a while, Danny began to move ploddingly away.  But, it was a slow, cautious waddle among the ducks as if bearing the weight of the world upon his shoulders. 

This was in sharp contrast to the quick, confident steps of the goose family.

Danny eventually lowered himself into the water and slowly began to swim away.


The disappointment in realizing the new goose family arriving to Harlem Meer was not his own was almost palpable and certainly evident in every feather of his being. 

While I had been hoping that new geese would show up to the Meer with which Danny might be able to join, it appears that goose families are more tight knit and set than that.

As I left Harlem Meer last night, the new goose family freely nibbled at the grass without a seeming care in the world.

But, somewhere on the water was a lone goose still searching for his own. 

It was just another night for Danny to once again accept his lot in life.

Ducks and geese all around him, but none to be, his own.  -- PCA


Thursday, August 30, 2012

"Eradication" Except for One

(Photo:  Danny last night at Harlem Meer.  A solitary goose among 100 ducks.)

The Goal is to "Eradicate" (Resident Canada Geese)

"Hunters' role in these seasons is not to conserve, it's to eradicate." 

The stunning words above are from a current outdoors column about the hunting of resident Canada geese:

If one really wants to know what the long term goals are for wildlife, one only needs to read the hunting articles.

Politicians, officials and USDA Wildlife Services will never use the term, "eradicate" to refer to the goals for resident Canada geese.  However, most newspaper articles and actions point to that direction.

Hunters are simply more brash and direct in telling like it is.

Even to the point of putting the word, "eradicate" in actual print.

"Eradication" Except for One

If one walks through Central Park these days it might be easy to think all Canada geese have been "eradicated" -- well, except that is, for one.

Danny, the lone goose at Harlem Meer continues to hold his own on a watercourse that is otherwise loaded with ducks.

A couple of weeks ago, most of the water at the Meer was drained in effort presumably to clean up some of the mud and debris that had accumulated along the edges and bottom of the lake.

At that time, there were not a whole lot of mallards at the Meer as they tend to leave any time there are changes not to their liking.

But, since the lake was replenished back up to normal levels, the mallards have returned -- and then some.

The fresh, clean water must be particularly inviting and the word is apparently out among the mallards of Central Park.

There are as many as 70 to 100 mallards at Harlem Meer right now -- the most I have seen at the location in perhaps years.

Last week, a couple of birders remarked that there were hardly any mallards at Turtle Pond.

"That's because they apparently have all taken off for Harlem Meer since the lake was dredged and then refilled.  Fussy little critters apparently!" I laughed.

But, the strange part in all this is that there are hardly any geese at the Meer -- except for the one lone goose without a flock.

Geese and ducks frequently flock together. Water that would be appealing to ducks would also be appealing to geese.

And in past years there would normally be many resident geese at Harlem Meer this time of year.

But,  for more than a month now there has only been the one goose, Danny at Harlem Meer.  This is downright bizarre -- especially with the recent influx of mallards.

Nevertheless, despite the hardship of not having his own family around (or any geese) to interact and roost with, Danny is slowly adjusting to being a solitary goose among 100 ducks.

Danny has no choice other than to "adjust" as it is at least several months away before the migratory geese can be expected to show up in Central Park just prior to the winter setting in.

"Eradication" of resident Canada geese.

In New York City, that appears to be nearly the case already.  -- PCA


Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Sad -- A Universal Language Known to Human and Animal

(Photos:  1-- Loner goose, Danny. Round peg in a square hole. 2-- Brad, Wiggly and Honker. Happy and high status because they have each other.)

The Emotional Lives of Animals

Below is an interesting article that spells out in scientific terms what so many of us already know and observe.

That most animals have conscious awareness similar to that of humans.

Although the piece does not emphasize emotions per se, it should go without saying that conscious awareness of environment, self and others would naturally include emotional response, attachment and affect.

While some might think that language is necessary for the recognition and expression of emotions,  human babies do not possess the skills of language, but for certain experience emotional lives.

Animals do not possess the skills of human language, but many have languages unto their own species. But, even for those solitary species who do not readily communicate in language to their own kind, there is still the experience of emotion. 

Emotions require conscious awareness and abilities of decision making, but they do not require the skills to understand nor necessarily communicate them. (Indeed, many humans have difficulty with emotional recognition and expression, hence the need for psychiatry.)

The main reason why non-human animals are subjected to so much tyranny at the hands of humans is not because they cannot experience emotions as we do, but because they are unable to communicate those emotions and conscious awareness in language and manner we can readily understand and/or admit to. 

Imagine how different the world would be were animals ever to develop means to communicate in manner and language we could understand?

It would compel us to entirely new standards for ethics and morality.

Yesterday, in a communication, a friend mentioned the word, "sad."

A simple, three letter word and yet a labyrinth of complexity.

What is sad, exactly?

So many things swirling about.......Difficult to sort out or understand. Even harder to change.   Reminds a little of a Judy Collins song.   "So many things I would have done, but clouds got in the way....."

Or maybe sad is indecision and/or feeling of fading options.  Regret of things past and fear or anxiety of things future.   So, one tries to stay in the moment.  But, moment is swirling combination of past, present and future, somehow all adding up to that simple, three letter, all-inclusive term, "sad." 

Last night, I went to Harlem Meer to spend time with the ducks.

The "loner" goose was with them.

There is a young goose who has been at the Meer for about a month now. I named the goose, "Danny." 

Sometimes I see Danny and sometimes I don't.

But, he was there last night and came upon the embankment with the mallards and three domestic ducks to partake in some offered treats.

The ducks were all noisy, raucous  and clamoring about. 

It is quite extraordinary, the many different sounds ducks make and the amazingly complex language they possess and share.

Most talkative among them last night were the three domestic ducks, Brad, Wiggly and Honker. 

This is a fairly recent development as for almost the year that she has been at the Meer, Wiggly never opened her mouth.   But, these days, Wiggly rarely shuts up. I believe this has something to do with her growing feelings of confidence and status at Harlem Meer.   She, Brad and Honker are the new "Bradley Brigade" and each one now celebrates and puts into action, their higher status among the Harlem Meer waterfowl.  Much of that "status" the three domestic ducks project through actual language.

But, watching Danny, the lone goose among the ducks was, well, kind of sad.

He was the round peg in a square hole, so to speak.

I imagine the young goose hangs with the ducks because of a sense of security and safety.

But, it's so obvious that Danny doesn't understand nor "speak" the ducks' language. 

Rather, he appears unnerved and confused by the constant chattering and frenetic movements around him. 

After some time, Danny moved further along the embankment and eventually took up a solitary position near the edge of the lake looking out over the empty water.

I can only guess at the circumstances that caused this young goose to be on his own without family and flock.

But, there is no question that Danny feels their loss and is now forced to "wing it" among those who, while not posing any harm or threat to him, are nevertheless light years away despite being all around him.

Round peg in a square hole.

Despite being similar species, there is no way a lone Canada goose connects with or truly fits into flocks of mallards.  They simply do not speak the same language.

It was sad seeing that last night -- even though I suspect Danny can and will survive among the flocks of alien ducks.

Emotionally however, Danny is lost and isolated.

Perhaps more than anything else, sad is synonymous with loss. 

And that is true for both humans and animals as the emotional lives of each are more similar and entwined than they are separate and different.  -- PCA


Monday, August 27, 2012

A Political Goose of a Different Color?

A Dancer Without Music

If I am a little disjointed in posting blog entries of late, it is because the main subject of this journal has all but disappeared in Central Park.

Even Danny, the lone Canada goose (pictured above) observed at Harlem Meer last week has again vanished.

Although Central Park remains lovely and pristine, it is surprisingly "empty" without geese.

The lively chatterings and antics of the ducks cannot make up for what is to me, a park devoid of vitality, magic and spirit.

I miss the beautiful, regal and peaceful goose silhouettes on the water.

I miss the familiar faces I had come to know.

Most of all,  I miss the feeling of being welcomed into and being temporary part of family.

One can "adapt" I suppose to a park without geese.

But, one never gets used to it.

I feel like a writer without subject, a photographer without image, a dancer without music.
Bullet the Blue Sky

It is that time of year again.

Though not by calendar the "guns of Autumn" yet for Canada geese, the shooting season is underway.

The time of year when a short, family romp in the morning sun can turn into terrifying and deadly encounters with hailing bullets.

And even should a goose be lucky enough to magically dodge flying daggers, what is it like to helplessly witness family members literally blasted out of the skies?

The below is an outdoors column about goose hunting.

Maybe it is me, but I sometimes wonder if these guys actually read what they write?

I am referring to the "family" thing.

I am not a fan of hunting under any circumstances.

But, the idea of hunting families is particularly repulsive.

Is this another reason for the troubling phenomenon of "loner geese?"

Geese who have lost their entire families to the bullets of blue skies?

A Political Goose of a Different Color?

The Republican Convention begins this week in Tampa, Florida.

Break out the balloons, party hats, campaign slogans and tired, rehashed speeches.

Though they may appear divergent or even extreme in what they ascribe to and defend, one ultimately fails to see great difference between the Democratic and Republican political conventions.  

Indeed, if one has seen one political convention, one has seen them all.  Only the names, faces and dates are different.

However, in this political season, there appears on the horizon, a potential horse (or goose?) of a different color.

It's a small Mayoral election in a southern town.

One that ordinarily would not garner any particular notice or attention except to the locals.

But, in this case, we have an incumbent mayor who secretly entered into a goose killing contract with USDA, hid and attempted to lie about the massacre to the press and the public and who, coincidently is up for reelection in less than two weeks.

What makes this campaign interesting is that one of the candidates running against Mayor Kant has devoted much time and space on his FB page to expose and protest the killing of the geese:

While true that most incumbents usually win no matter how incompetent or corrupt, If Independent, Chris Warner should be victorious, it might be the first time someone (Kant) actually pays a political price for secretly ordering a USDA slaughter of wildlife.

Could it be that there is actually some hope for needed political changes -- at least on some small, local level?

This is one election I will be eagerly awaiting the results of -- even though I am no where near Fairhope, Alabama. -- PCA


Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Danny Boy -- A Goose Without a Gaggle


(Photos:  Danny Boy enjoying the children at Harlem Meer yesterday. )

It appears that "Danny" is back -- or still at Harlem Meer.

Danny is a "loner" goose who I saw at the Meer a couple of times about three weeks ago.

I didn't see him for a while, but now he is apparently back again. 

I have seen Danny twice within the past couple of days, typically hanging out with the mallards towards the east side of the lake.

Of course, I don't know for sure the one goose being seen now is actually Danny or still, just another "lone goose."

I am merely guessing because the behavior appears identical to the goose seen three weeks ago. 

Danny is a very human-oriented goose and has no problems walking up to people and even small children.

But, as far as guessing or stating why this goose is alone without other geese around, it is impossible to do so.  The phenomenon of "loner geese" is a new one and hard to speculate upon.   But, apparently it is not unique to Central Park. 

Another woman recently wrote about seeing a "loner" goose at a site near Westchester shortly following a USDA roundup in which more than 100 geese were rounded up and killed from the area.

While no goose roundups have occurred in Central Park, they have occurred elsewhere around the city this summer.

So, while there may be other explanations for Danny being without his flock, (such as separation in fight), the possibility that his family has been killed is certainly among the possible and likely explanations.

Since there are currently no other geese in Central Park at this time, it is quite possible that Danny might have to wait until December to find other geese to hang with. At that time, migratory geese can be expected to arrive in Central Park.

There is also the possibility that other geese might arrive sooner.

According this outdoor sports column, many resident geese respond to the pressures of hunting by fleeing to urban areas and parks when the hunting season gets underway.

Early hunting season on Canada geese begins in New York State in September. 

Perhaps Danny won't have to wait so long after all.

It is quite amazing that, losing so much of their natural habitat and being shot in existing areas, so many geese attempt to escape and take up residence in urban parks, golf courses or even shopping malls or private lawns.

But, then they are deemed "nuisance" in those areas and typically rounded up and killed and/or harassed out.

It seems there are no safe or welcomed areas for the geese to go anymore.

But, at least for the moment, Danny is seeming to adjust to his unusual situation of being a "loner" goose in Central Park.

And at least yesterday, there were a couple of children and one adult who very much enjoyed Danny being at Harlem Meer.  -- PCA


Saturday, August 18, 2012

What We Cannot Dominate, We Destroy

Troubling news today from different places and directions.  This blog entry will thus be divided into three short sections:

"No Standing"

Apparently the public has "no standing" to sue USDA Wildlife Services for massive destructions of wildlife.  This is supposedly because it cannot be proven how such slaughters "harm" us: 

And yet our government shells out billions every year for treatment of depression and other human emotional maladies.   How exactly are these "proven?"  Obviously, the government believes these conditions exist.

Perhaps when most of the natural wildlife is wiped out in our nation, we can simply put in claims for anti-depressants to make us all deal better with our "learned helplessness" and feel better. 
Alabama the Southern Version of New York City?

No sooner do we learn of the recent roundup and killing of 41 geese from Fairhope, Alabama when there are a whole slew of other articles discussing plans to "cull" geese from different parks in Birmingham, Alabama.

Rather than post all of the article links here, I am posting the link for a new Goosewatch FB page that has just been set up for the people who care about protecting the geese in Birmingham.  (This page contains all the article links.)  Anyone reading this blog and living in the south is especially urged to "like" and join this page:

(Please also note, the special and general Call of the Canada Geese FB page that contains articles and information from all over the country.  (25) Call of the Canada Geese .)

It seems what started out in New York City as effort to "watch" out for and protect our local resident geese is now having to go national.

Numerous Goosewatch FB sites now exist in different areas of the country and it is sadly expected that many more will need to be formed over the coming years to confront what now seems an epidemic "war" on Canada geese.

What We Cannot Dominate, We Destroy

As officially an "old" person now, I am not shocked by too many things.

However, I have to admit to being truly shocked when watching "20/20" last night and its report entitled, "When Animals Attack." 

According to this piece, some 70 million "exotic" animals are owned by Americans.

These include predators such as deadly snakes, alligators, bears, lions, tigers, wolves and even (though not considered a "predator" as such), chimpanzees.

Of course, I was aware of those "nut jobs" who keep such animals in homes or even apartments (as one young man kept a tiger in a New York City apartment some years ago). But,  I was not aware of the actual numbers nor that it was apparently so easy to obtain what are otherwise wild and potentially dangerous animals.

Once again, one is forced to wonder how and why in a human culture so otherwise advanced in all other ways, we have so degenerated in our relationships with the other animals on this planet?

Many of the species now being captively bred and sold in the United States for profit are being wiped out and facing instinction in their native lands due to destruction of habitat and illegal poaching. 

But, are we soon approaching the day when these rare animals will only exist in cages, completely subjugated to the will of humans?

What truly stunned in this report was the way government is so seemingly lax and accepting of people keeping wild predators as "pets" while coming down hard on anyone attempting to keep a Canada goose or wild duck.

Somewhere in the logs of the Call of the Canada Geese FB page is an article from about a year ago of a woman who rescued an injured and orphaned Canada goose gosling, raised and kept the goose as a pet, along with her pet dog. 

The woman had a home, property and I believe, a barn. 

And yet, government came down on her and almost forced her to give up the beloved goose because it was a "wild animal."  

It was only through favorable press, petitioning  and social media that the woman was finally allowed to keep her rescued goose -- but not without a whole lot of stress and haggling in court.

And yet the goose was a threat to no one.

All of these incidences seem to point to a baffling intolerance towards independent wildlife that poses no actual  harm to humans, while at the same time, encouraging or at least accepting human "ownership" of predatory animals who rightfully belong only in the wild.

Once again, the human tendency to willfully dominate, "control," subjugate and ultimately victimize other animals takes precedence over responsibility, ethics and even common sense. 

(Sometimes I wonder if perhaps some species of animals are actually better off going extinct than sticking around for further human abuse?)

We, as humans, may be highly progressed in the sciences, the arts, athletics and all manner of intellectual pursuit. 

But, truly in our associations and understanding of animals, we have not "progressed" beyond the cave man days. 

Rather, the attitude seems to be, "What we cannot dominate, subjugate and control, we destroy."

Such is the seeming attitude towards Canada geese and perhaps best explains our murderous actions towards them in particular.    -- PCA


Friday, August 17, 2012

A Man-Made Shangri-La?

(Photo:  The South Pond at Central Park, New York City) 

A masterful and outstanding Op-Ed published in Golf Coast News Today and written by Mary Lou Simms.

It is rare these days to see media pieces that are 100% accurate, but this is one of them.

It is hoped that people take the necessary time to post comments of praise to both the news site and the writer. 

As previously noted, "media response" is extremely important in any justice struggle, whether to critique press reports or in this (rare) case, praise them.

Media generally goes the way of public response and perception, as is true the other way around.  

In more local news, there was a picnic yesterday at the South Pond in Central Park sponsored by (27) GooseWatch NYC .

The event was pleasant, the weather beautiful, but there were no geese at the pond.

Personally, I am finding Central Park very "empty" these days and strangely depressing without geese.

The absence of geese seems to have profound effect upon my general mood and sense of faith and optimism.

That has been true since 9-11 more than eleven years ago. 

At that traumatic time in New York and American history, I found the presence of geese and ducks in Central Park to be extremely comforting and providing a sense of tranquility, that despite the horrible and tragic events of the day, everything would ultimately be all right.

I have a much harder time achieving such sense of faith and confidence now.

On the contrary, I believe politically, economically, substantively and ethically, we are on a downward spiral with geese being somewhat symbolic of everything else.

Maybe that is just me and my general "low mood."

But, I really have to hope that some resident geese make it back to Central Park before the migratory birds arrive in late November or December.

The likely prospect of Senator Gillibrand being reelected in early November after orchestrating an all out "war" and carnage against New York City's fast disappearing urban wildlife is almost too painful to bear.  

If it be true that "no good deed goes unpunished" it seems the really diabolical deeds result in political elections.

These are the kinds of times that compel one to consider leaving New York City. -- Until one learns of events happening elsewhere around the country, like Fairhope, Alabama.

And then one realizes, (like the geese perhaps) there is really no peaceful place left to go.

"War" is all around despite the appearances of a seemingly man-made Shangri-La. -- PCA


Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Blowing Fans and Vanishing Geese

Poop Hitting the Fan in Fairhope, Alabama

It appears the poop is hitting the fan in Fairhope, Alabama. 

The story of 41 geese drugged, rounded up and gassed by USDA on July 31st is now widely reported in both local media and even by the AP.

Sadly, the exposure of government deception, obfuscation, squandering of tax money and outright lies comes too late to save the 41 geese wrongly scapegoated for water "pollution" and subjected to an unnecessary massacre. 

But, it doesn't come too late for the people and the press to demand accountability and the truth.

It appears Mayor Kant of Fairhope entered into a contract with USDA without asking any questions and without letting his own city council know of the impending slaughter.

Officials then attempted to whitewash and sweep under the rug,  the entire incident by claiming the geese were "relocated."

We now learn the geese were "euthanized" (USDA code and euphemism for gassing).

While one would like to think that covert government and USDA actions such as occurred in Fairhope are rare and isolated, we know in fact, they are not.

These guys just got caught in some of the lies.

But, in most places they are able to get away with the lies (as in New York City) because a so-called "free press" doesn't question anything.

The difference in Fairhope was that a couple of journalists actually did question, investigate and report.

We need the same to occur in the rest of the country.
Descent to Zero

The number of Canada geese currently in Central Park has once again dropped to zero.

While it could be somewhat comforting to think that such absence is attributable to "harassment" (as distasteful as that thought actually is), the reality is that it is more likely due to the fact that the resident Canada goose population in New York City has been decimated through what are now, years of USDA goose roundups and slaughters.

Central Park Conservancy has said repeatedly that it is not using "goose patrols" (i.e. harassment) this year due to the "low" number of geese in the park.

While past history and incidents in other areas might prompt one to distrust or doubt official claims of anything, it does not make sense that harassment would be used on less than a dozen geese in an 874 acre park.

But, all the Central Park resident geese are nevertheless gone now.

Assuming the claims of non-harassment to be true, the absence of any geese in Central Park at a time there would be many geese in past years demonstrates several things:

#1.  Any claims of people "feeding" geese being responsible for geese "staying" in a location are utterly false.   As noted, the Central Park resident geese were constantly fed by humans each and every day of the year.   And yet, as soon as growing in flight feathers, both families of resident geese left their locations.   Geese do not depend in any way on humans for food. The constant claims to the contrary are apparently attempt to blame feeders for imagined "overpopulations" of geese, as well as to discourage humans from making any connections with geese and/or caring about them.

#2   The fact there are no geese in an area (specifically, Harlem Meer in Central Park) that used to be a "gathering" site for dozens of geese following the summer molt suggests there are no flocks of geese to fly into Central Park from molting locations.  That is hugely significant and troubling.  Though there are scattered reports from around the city of some flocks of geese here or there, the numbers are drastically down from what they were just two years ago.

#3   Between USDA yearly cullings, harassment and egg oiling in some locations and expanded hunting seasons throughout New York State, it does not require a rocket scientist to speculate that New York City will likely be completely devoid of any resident Canada geese within five years.

Last night,  while walking around a goose-empty Central Park, I could not help but feel I was looking at the future. 

Not a future long after I am dead, but rather a future that is literally around the corner, if not already here in many locations.

When starting this blog on geese a couple of years ago, the hope was that by sharing gained knowledge and information about geese, it would help foster a new appreciation and respect for this vital part of quickly disappearing "urban wildlife."

But, I fear that this journal has instead become a daily log on the slow and deliberate driving to extinction, a species that once used to grace and adorn our city parks in large, "resident" numbers.  

Descent to zero.   -- PCA


Monday, August 13, 2012

"What They Don't Know Can't Hurt Us" - Wild (and Domestic?) Geese Drugged and Rounded Up in Fairhope, Alabama

(Photo:  Some of the 751 Canada geese rounded up from Jamaica Bay Wildlife Refuge on July 9th of this year and later gassed or slaughtered.)

"If something doesn't make sense, it is usually not true."

The above quote is from the very wise Judge Judy.

Nowhere does this statement more apply than the recent story out of Fairhope, Alabama where during the first week in August, a reported 40 geese were drugged and rounded up by USDA and "relocated" to some mystery Neverland. 

(From photos shown in two articles, some of the geese appeared to be white domestic geese or Pekin ducks who were incapable of flight.) 

This clandestine roundup occurred after various media sources reported there would be a "public meeting" on August 9th  to discuss what the city would do about the claimed "hundreds" of local park geese.

Aside from the obvious misleading of press and public, there are other troubling aspects of the story that defy common sense.

The claim about "relocating" the geese, for example.

Usually, relocations of Canada geese are conducted during the birds' flightless molting period from early June through mid July.  (That's because of the ease of rounding up geese who are incapable of escape, but also because the birds would be incapable of returning to the capture location.) 

The flightless geese and goslings are then easy prey for any predators in a rural area or later in the season, hunters.

However, the Fairhope geese were rounded up at a time most could fly which prompted the use of "sedatives" doused on bread for capture.

Such geese would then presumably return to capture location if "relocated" anywhere in the state.

The claim of "relocation" therefore doesn't make sense and is unlikely true.

Another claim not making sense is the charge that the geese were responsible for water pollution. 

Geese are waterfowl and are designed by nature to be mostly on water.

Although frequently accused of "contaminating" lakes and ponds, the charge seems as bogus as claiming that fish pollute oceans.

It is difficult to imagine nature making these kind of mistakes.

But, "mistakes" seem to occur frequently when humans attempt to "manage" animal populations -- especially when there is little understanding of the animals one is attempting to "manage."

Its certainly possible that "hundreds" of geese were gathered on the Fairhope beach front parks during the summer molt.

Geese have to remain close to water (for safety) during the six weeks they are going through the molt or raising young.

For people who don't understand this natural occurrence, there are common complaints of the geese "not going anywhere" and becoming a "nuisance."

But, the fact is, that geese naturally move when completing the summer molt and regaining their flight feathers (unless flightless for other reasons such as injury or being domestic breeds).

This fact is bourne out in the article above, as only 40 geese are claimed to have been "removed" from a population that was said to be at least 200 just weeks before.  

Obviously, most of the geese had already left the location as should have been expected by anyone understanding goose biology, behavior and normal flying patterns.

So, why did the city and the USDA embark on this wasteful, clandestine and seemingly reckless, cruel roundup when most of the geese could have been predicted to leave on their own anyway?

Insofar as the USDA, it is a paycheck for them, so there was likely financial incentive to both promote and carry out the roundup.

City officials are more of a mystery, though apparently one or two are up for reelection in a community where the geese had become a "controversy."

One might thus call this, typical "knee jerk" political response where appearances matter more than facts.    (i.e. "I solved the goose problem and addressed people's concerns! The geese were humanely relocated to Disneyworld!")

But, the drugged geese were not relocated to Disneyworld and more likely ended up either in freezers or in landfills.

Just don't ask questions about what actually happened to the 40 geese who did not need to be rounded up in the first place.

Presumably, many of these 40 geese were just temporary visitors who were in the wrong place at the wrong time and some appear to be  domestic geese (or Pekin ducks) who were incapable of flight and escape. (Most likely dumped in the park by people whose "Easter chicks" grew up.)

The geese (or domestic ducks) were ultimately defenseless against whatever drugs or sedatives were used on them to facilitate a needless capture and slaughter.

And on this note, the very use of sedatives in an environmentally sensitive area to capture any animals is open to serious question.

Was bread coated with chemicals and then dropped into water?

If so, that could potentially have very negative consequences to fish, turtles, birds and other wildlife.

The public is constantly told not to flush medications down toilets due to the danger of them getting into and "contaminating the water supply."

But, apparently USDA Wildlife Services can dump these same chemicals directly into water and on grass to capture one of their favorite (money) targets -- Canada geese.

The lies, obfuscations, PR spin and manipulations of press and public continue ad infitum with the ultimate credo being not, "government by the people, for the people and with the peoples consent," but rather, "What they don't know can't hurt us."   -- PCA


Sunday, August 12, 2012

An Independent Woman

(Photo:  Mama goose -- an "independent woman" -- or, as some call her, "the diva.")

"Rock and Hard Place Choices"

I grew up in an Irish American home where my mother was a republican and my grandmother, a democrat.

There was often much heated political debate with members of my family basically canceling out each other's votes.

As an adult, I have mostly voted democratic, but sometimes republican depending upon how extreme I view the candidates.

I don't like extremism either to the left or the right.   More than once I have split my vote, as I will likely do this November.

I am not sure what happened to political "moderates" in this country, but they don't seem to run for elective office these days -- or even exist.   Moderates appear rather, to be going extinct as fast as thousands of animal and plant species with the impacts of climate change and habitat destruction.

It has become very tiring and frustrating in recent years to have to pick between two extremes, neither of which appeals to either my sense of justice and/or what I believe, best for the country.

My current view of democrats is that they never met an expenditure, regulation and give-a-way (nursemaid) program they did not like.

Republicans have never met a tax cut, moral platitude, war or weapon they did not like.

Both parties talk out of both sides of their mouths.

Republicans say they value "individual rights, free enterprise and liberty," while at the same time they attempt to deny some people the right to marry who they love and women the right to control the number of children they have.

Sure, republicans are all for individual rights -- as long as they conform to their religious and moral platitudes and views.

I am tired of the republican party attempting to shove its moral views down everyone else's throats and peek into bedrooms.  That is not the "individual right and freedoms" the republican party constantly preaches out of the other sides of their mouths.  Apparently, "individual rights" only apply to them.

But, the democratic party is every bit as hypocritical.

The "nothing bad should ever happen in life" party seems to believe that no one is capable of making a living, a decision, feeding themselves or sending their kids to college without government assistance and/or dictates.

Although the democratic party believes in a "woman's right to choose," and a person's right to marry who they choose, those choices apparently don't extend to a woman's right to feed  formula to a baby,  a person's right to smoke a cigarette or buy a 20 ounce bottle of coke.

One democratic Senator (Gillibrand) even took it upon herself to campaign for the destruction of 751 Canada geese from a wildlife refuge on the one-in-a- trillion chance that a plane might one day collide with one of them. (i.e. "something bad might happen someday.")

The issue and question was never put before the voters to consider and decide.  

Among the many things the democratic ("nanny") party apparently believes it has to do for us, is think.

I truly believe its time for a third party in the United States. 

One whose principles are guided by common sense, fiscal responsibility, respect for individual rights and choices and a willingness to recognize the human place and role on this planet and our fragile relationship with nature and the other animals here.

So far, (in my view) neither party meets that criteria. 

Both, have rather been seemingly taken over by extreme elements and radical special interests.  

Both are steeped in archaic, backward, "sound bite" thinking that fails to recognize long range consequences of irresponsible actions. 

And both have lost touch with the American voter, most of whom, I believe are probably just as fed up with these "rock and hard place" choices  as I am.

"Cave Man Days"

Like most people, I have been completely awed and mesmerized by the astounding physical achievements of Olympic athletes for the past two weeks (most notably, this time around, women athletes).

It seems there is no goal, no barrier, no test of physical limits or endurance and no record too high to obtain or break with determination, hard work and persistence.

Of course, most countries (and ours, particularly) greatly encourages and rewards outstanding athletic achievement and prowess.

(Indeed, the only rewards or acknowledgement for achievement I have ever won are three trophies and one "gold medal" for swimming.)

Watching the Olympics over the past two weeks has instilled the belief that there is absolutely nothing that humans cannot achieve when we put our minds to it. 

That is true not only in physical pursuits, but technological, scientific, engineering, medical, cosmetic and even the pursuits for social justice -- especially over the last century.

However, this is certainly not true when resolving our so-called "conflicts" with animals and wildlife or even just understanding and learning to peacefully co-exist with nature and wildlife.

Rather, when it comes to those issues and challenges, our attitude always seems to be, "When do we kill and how many do we kill?"

Certainly that is the most discussed question, for example, when the dilemma is "bird strikes" with planes even though it is our airliners flying into the normal air space for birds. 

It seems however, that the more responsible questions to ask should be,  "How do we better develop avian radar to detect birds in the air and how do we utilize our knowledge of birds' abilities to see UV light to develop early warning systems on planes that would prevent birds from colliding with them in the first place?

Solving these kinds of challenges would not just "remove" a bunch of birds from the skies, while leaving billions more for a plane to possibly collide with (in other words, "achieving" nothing but PR spin), but actually prevent (and solve) the problem entirely, while also recognizing the right of nature to exist.

But, apparently it is not a priority as it is simply "easier" and cheaper to kill many thousands of birds.

It seems in every area of life, humans have greatly progressed over the ages.

But, in our relationships and interactions with the other species on this planet, our actions are more in line with those from the stone age.  

Indeed, if we needed any proof of this, it seems every four years when a presidential election rolls around, we are "treated" to photos of candidates posing in front of animals they just shot or killed with a bow and arrow as if it is some kind of "selling point" for us to admire.

The only thing such photos "sell" to me is the belief that when it comes to animals and nature, humans have truly not progressed one iota from the cave man days. 

This despite all other intellectual, physical and even social justice achievements.

Without harmony, balance and peace with nature, all else ultimately becomes meaningless.

An Independent Woman

Last night, I almost lost the motivation to go to Central Park.

It was hot and muggy outside and the Olympics on TV were entertaining.

But, more than these reasons, I simply did not look forward to walking around a park and missing the sight of Canada geese who I have so come to admire and love over the years.

To me, a park without geese is like a rock concert without a band.

But, I began to get a little bored with track and field and both my dogs, Tina and Chance began to get a little antsy as the evening hours wore on as they are used to daily two mile walks.

And so it was nearly midnight when I finally decided to pull myself away from the comfort of air conditioning and TV to head north to Harlem Meer.   I figured I should at least check up  and say "hi" to Brad, Wiggly and Honker, the three domestic ducks at the Meer.

But, imagine the shock when arriving at Harlem Meer of seeing not just one "loner" goose on the water, but in fact, a gaggle of 11 geese!

I had not seen that many Canada geese at Harlem Meer since the end of last winter.

As it was so late in the night, the geese appeared to be resting in the middle of the lake.

They made no motions to come to me nor showed any signs of recognition and so I surmised them to be some random flock just stopping briefly at the Meer for a night or two.

But, as I began to toss some sunflower seeds to Brad and the gang of ducks that gathered along one of the embankments, one of the geese broke from the gaggle and headed in my direction.

When arriving to the edge of the bank, I noticed the goose had kind of strange, ruffled, wing feathers.

The goose looked at me, but did not come up on the embankment.

Hm, I thought and then took a closer look, noticing a kind of flat head top.

Oh my God!  Its Mama!!

So shocked was I seeing Mama and her family two miles away from the Boat Lake, I almost could not believe my eyes!

But, there was no mistaken the "funny, ruffled feathers,"  the flat appearance of the top of her head nor even the innocent, whimsical expression in Mama's eyes.

But, of course I should have guessed her to be Mama much sooner, just by the fact of wandering away from her gaggle.  (Geese don't normally do that.)

Mama always has the tendency to either tag far behind the rest of her flock or occasionally stay in a location while the others go or even wander away.

And although her mate, Papa goose is normally very good at keeping his gaggle together and in line, I think he has given up on trying to keep his "wife," Mama in line.

Mama seems to be a very "independent woman" with a mind seemingly her own.  While her loyalty and devotion to mate and family is unquestionable, Mama nevertheless likes to do things her way and in her own good time.

Once, during the summer molt this year, I found Mama causally by herself, hanging out on the grass near the Boat Lake cafe with a human couple who had just gotten married.  (Apparently, Mama has a soft or romantic spot for weddings.)

The next day Mama was back with her family at the usual spot north on the Boat Lake.

But, I imagine at this point, Papa is used to his spouse occasionally going off on jaunts.  If he was alarmed at all last night with his mate again wandering off, he did not show it.

I of course, approached Mama as closely as possible last night (without falling into the water) and tossed some sunflower seeds to her which she happily scooped up before the mallards could get to them.

I am positively amazed with how far Mama is actually able to fly with her "funny wings."

More than once when Mama was molting at the Boat Lake and her wings drooped and dragged along the ground, people asked if her wings were broken?  I knew that her wings were not broken, but they did not appear that she could ever fly again with them.

Nature is funny and mysterious sometimes. 

Or, perhaps it is just Mama who is funny, mysterious and oh-so-independent.

As I left Harlem Meer very late last night, I could see that Mama had turned around and on her own good time, would casually make it back to the rest of the family still far out on the lake.  (A family, by the way, that has seemingly increased by at least one goose over the past few days.   Could it be that Annie found and joined up with Mama and Papa's family?)

But, Mama was in no particular hurry.

She is a very independent woman (or, as Liana calls Mama, "the diva.")  --- PCA