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


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