Wednesday, February 27, 2013

The Heaven and Hell of Wildlife Management

Canada goose, Harlem Meer, Central Park.
Following up on the proposed USDA roundup and slaughter of Canada geese in Marmaroneck, Long Island, there is this article today from the Patch:

Much as many people mistakenly claim otherwise, Canada geese are in fact native to North America.

Geese were present in this country before the pilgrims landed. Unfortunately, the particular breed was extirpated soon after the white man arrived.

Canada geese were also nearly hunted to extinction in the last century. However, fearing they might lose a favorite target, various hunting clubs and wildlife biologists in the US captively captured, bred and released thousands of Canada geese on the east coast.

The real story of Canada geese is a very ugly and classic case of "Wildlife Mismanagement." -- Kill them to actual or near extinction and then artificially repopulate.

And now, the powers that be whine again.

However, there are things to consider:

All the hunting and "culling" of Canada geese appears to be creating a much smarter, more adaptable and resilient bird similar to coyotes in mammals.

Some animals (like coyotes) compensate for predation by producing larger litters, more often and at younger ages.

In this respect, both geese and coyotes seem similar to humans as witness a "baby boom" following the carnage of WW2 or the fact human birth rates are higher in countries impoverished by war and famine where most babies die young.

We can keep killing geese (like coyotes) but it only seems to create a much smarter, determined and prolific bird.

If we really are so "repulsed" by geese, then it seems prudent to change the habitat to something geese would not welcome. --- Such as landscape barriers to obstruct their views of possible predators.

But, killing only creates more and smarter geese -- unless we design to wipe out the species entirely which was almost done in the last century before the geese "wised up" to human predation.

News flash: There is no such thing as "Utopia."

If ever there comes a day when human civilization ends, we will realize that if we failed in creating a heaven on earth for humans, we succeeded in creating a living hell for animals. -- PCA


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