Tuesday, January 8, 2013

"Whose Afraid of the Big, Bad Goose?"

Most of us old enough to remember the Kennedy's also recall a time when wolves were deemed the most feared and "hated" animal on the planet.

Wolves were depicted as menaces to little girls in fairy tales and the constant bane of farmers.  They were considered "vicious varmint" to be feared by everyone (including little pigs) and were nearly hunted and massacred to extinction.

Unfortunately, government policies usually follow perception, rather than fact.

Fortunately for wolves however, popular writers, scientists and eventually documentaries helped to quell the fears and misperceptions about wolves and eventually led to greater awareness, respect and legal protection of this vital part of the ecological food chain.

These days, the new and popular target for human "hate" and fear is Canada geese -- especially in the press.

For example, the article below ("Canada Geese...the World's Most Hated Bird") recently appeared in at least one major newspaper and was circulated on Yahoo yesterday attracting almost 200 comments, most of them demonizing of the geese:

"Whose Afraid of the Big, Bad Wolf?"

Apparently few people these days (as rightly should be).

The mantra has instead become, "Whose Afraid of the Big, Bad Canada Goose" -- the most "hated bird" on the planet?

And that is (judging from public comment) almost everyone.

As someone who has studied and observed up front and personal, Canada geese for a number of years, I cannot understand the hostility and propaganda against these peaceful and majestic birds anymore than I could understand the vitriol towards wolves so many years ago.

But, I do know it spells big trouble for Canada geese in the future as it has spelled extermination campaigns against them (and wolves) in the recent past.

Policies (and Editorials) usually follow perception, rather than fact.

Another example of this is an opinion piece published today out of Wisconsin.

In it, the writer (who is a fisherman and apparently inconvenienced by geese) says that, "It seems" goose poop is a "hazard."

"Seems" is perception based upon writer's personal annoyance or paranoia, not fact.

But, most people will read that sentence as fact and will thus fear that contact with goose droppings might kill them.

This paper will follow on Wednesday with an actual Editorial on the goose issue which, (judging from the published opinion piece) will not be charitable towards geese.

Policies and Editorials follow perception. 

While I attempted to post two comments to the above opinion piece, neither one (to this point), actually published.  So, I sent the writer an email.

But, part of me feels like it is 1960 and I am attempting to advocate for respect and protection of "big, bad" wolves.
Hey there, Little Red Riding Hood, be nice to the big, bad geese."  -- PCA