Saturday, June 29, 2013

"You Play a Pair of Dice and Put Up a Parking Lot" (Geese in a Geese Museum?)

Park or Museum?  -- What will the future be?
 "Don't it always go to show,  that you don't know what you've got 'till it's gone? You play a pair of dice and put up a parking lot."

People in many parts of the country (especially, Gaston Park, North Carolina) might be recalling words from a 1970 Joni Mitchell song these days:  

You go to a park where a few days before there were geese, only to find clumps of scattered feathers. And then you ask, "What happened?"

144 Canada geese were secretly rounded up by USDA WS, trucked away and gassed is what happened in this small, southern community.  But, it sure is not a sleepy community.

On the contrary, it turns out many of the residents are unhappy about the clandestine carnage. For days they have been posting angry comments on social media and newspaper sites.  So much in fact, that one newspaper was prompted to write this Editorial today:

While the headline alludes to citizen passion on behalf of the gassed geese, the body of the piece derides and ridicules the people for that. -- Better they should direct their "passions" to more worthy causes is the not-so-subtle conclusion and actual bottom line.

But, what is most intriguing are some of the highly intelligent and profound responses by the people in this same community. (Granted some are from this incensed New Yorker.) 

The people of Gaston, NC are not taking this wildlife assault lying down and they are no one's fools --including Editorial
Boards and USDA WS.  

Perhaps the people don't want to see a day when other lines of an old song come back to haunt in the real world of modern day reality:

"You clip all the trees and put 'em in a tree museum.  And then you charge the people a dollar and a half just to see them."

Will there in fact come a day when we have to pay to see geese, ducks and the other birds of our parks in a bird museum?

That day doesn't, unfortunately, seem so far off.

But, the actual verdict hasn't come in yet as the jury (as represented by the citizens of this great country) is still out. -- PCA


Friday, June 28, 2013

"It Takes a Village" -- Community Engagement Critical to Saving Wildlife and Geese

Mary Beth Purdy Artz speaking to crowd at June 26th rally to protect Canada geese.  (Photo credit: GooseWatch,NYC.)
One could say the goose poop is hitting the fan in North Carolina:

The clandestine USDA roundup and gassing of 144 Canada geese from Gaston Park, has sparked community outrage and media coverage that has not been rivaled since this same rogue agency rounded up and gassed 352 geese from Prospect Park in Brooklyn almost three years ago.

Most of the credit for wide scale media coverage is due to the gutsy (112) Carolina Waterfowl Rescue  whose offers to help humanely manage the goose population in the park were completely dismissed in favor of a brutal, secret and barbaric USDA WS extermination.

Of course, we in New York City are more than familiar with secret and barbaric goose roundups as they have become par for the course here.  Once USDA WS gets a foot-hold in a community (or city) they seem to become entrenched and wildlife eradications become "business as usual." 

Goose massacres in New York City are in fact no longer reported by local (or national) media and on the contrary, are expanding now to other birds species (as reported here a few days ago).

10,000 birds slated to be executed in New York State over the next few months and not a word about this in any of the major press here.

Reading over the many articles from Dallas, NC, it is a trip back in time to July, 2010 and all the public outrage over the goose gassings that occurred from Prospect Park at that time.

But, what exactly happened to all that community and public outrage?

Three years later, there are presently no geese in Prospect Park to worry over or to potentially be subjected to a second WS "cull."

Some might call that a victory, but if so, it is a seemingly hollow one.

The fact is, that between the massacre of 2010 and subsequent harassment and egg-addling programs, Prospect Park has been completely emptied and devoid of all resident geese.

It seems community outrage has to be channeled into long term advocacy and activism on behalf of wildlife in our parks less the targeted wildlife is ultimately and secretly "gotten rid of" one way or the other.

We cannot afford to take our eyes off the ball or yield to rock and hard place Hobsen's choices, as to do so is to seemingly sell out the very animals we portend to care about protecting and maintaining some population of in our parks.

Certainly, community engagement, education and outreach needs to be an ongoing endeavor as with so many distractions, activities and pressures, it is too easy for people to fall into a kind of lull (as Martin Lowney of USDA suggested and counts on) and "forget" the massacres that occurred in their public parks only a year or two earlier.

Knowing the dedication to cause and birds of Carolina Waterfowl Rescue, one can feel confident that this particular organization of dedicated people will not take their eyes off the ball and will continue to do advocacy and community outreach on the geese's and other birds' behalf.

It indeed takes a village, not only to advocate on the behalf of children, but animals as well.

Both require long term commitments, persistence and a sense of never giving up.

And even though the going can get real tough (as in NYC), it just means the tough have to keep going as was the case this past Wednesday (June 26th) when many dozens of New Yorkers attended the (27) GooseWatch NYC  rally to speak up for the geese -- three years after the Prospect Park goose gassings:

But, it doesn't stop with one rally, or one comment or letter to a newspaper, or one article or visit to a park to check on our remaining geese (presuming we still have any).

(The media coverage of today is too often forgotten tomorrow.)

Engagement has to be every day and it has to be experience of head, heart and most of all, soul -- even when there is no media or even a single human ear or eye to hear and see. -- PCA


Wednesday, June 26, 2013

"They Turn on Football" (And Forget Goose and Wildlife Massacres)

Victims of "football?"  According to NY State Director of USDA WS, people forgive and forget wildlife massacres as long as there is football (and other entertainment) to turn on TV.  
 Call it, "Environmental Watergate or Government on Steroids or Wildlife Mafia."  But, the reality is that birds and other wildlife are being contracted for hits and "culls" all across the country and behind the backs of the taxpayers who unknowingly and unwittingly pay for them.

It required FOIR to discover that the Dept of Fish and Wildlife has contracted with USDA WS for a massive kill of 10,000 birds in the state of New York over the next few months -- including 5,000 Canada geese:

In North Carolina today, people are waking up to the reality of geese secretly rounded up and gassed at Gaston County Park by the feds -- despite a highly reputable waterfowl rescue organization's prior offers to humanely and effectively help to manage the population. 

 (112) Carolina Waterfowl Rescue is devoting most of its Facebook page today to imploring people to make calls and protest the carnage.

But, that is the typical and not the exception.

The people either find out too late about impending wildlife kills (and that mostly through FOIRs) to effectively do anything to stop them or more commonly, find out about them after the fact.

It makes one wonder if this is what the founders of the Constitution had in mind when formulating a "government for and by the people" and deeming out roles of federal government?

Did they ever foresee a day when federal employees would be secretly rounding up geese for gassing at urban parks and killing thousands of house finches and millions of starlings?

Very little, if any of this makes local and national news.

Those media outlets covering any of the carnage usually publish (virtually verbatim) government's rationalizations and press releases for the kills.  Few questions are asked and even fewer answered.

Killing of wildlife is too often a (governmental) first response, rather than a last resort when it comes to resolving so-called "conflicts" between wildlife and humans.

And since it appears that it is only environmental or animal activists and organizations "upset" about the massacres, the contract kills are unlikely to be impacted at all.

As Martin Lowney (Director of New York State USDA APHIS WS) told me a couple of years ago:

 "Sure, we understand some people get upset. But, as soon as they go home and turn on football, they quickly forget and move on."

And that is apparently what USDA WS and other federal agencies are counting on.

That we all turn on football (or The Bachelor or Real Housewives of Hollywood) and quickly "forget and move on."

And if that be the case, then the people get the government they deserve. -- Only, it's the animals that pay for it with their blood and their lives. -- PCA


Tuesday, June 25, 2013

USDA Wildlife Services Blows Off Congress While Leaving Massive Wildlife Death Trails

Geese rounded up by USDA and sent for gassing from Randall's Island in 2009.
Part of 702 geese rounded up by USDA in 2012 and sent to slaughter from Jamaica Bay Wildlife "Refuge."
As USDA Wildlife Services blows off the public and the press, it also blows off the Congress:

Congressman, John Campbell (R- CA) also wrote and added on his Facebook Page:

"With the release of these documents there is now absolutely no question that APHIS and Wildlife Services has lied to Congress. They intentionally covered up the fact that they have completed their report and are refusing to submit their findings to Rep. Defazio and myself. There is no question they are trying to cover up the action of their employee. This agency has a culture of abuse and animal torture and this wrongdoing is accepted and encouraged. It appears to me that this cover up extends to the highest levels of these agencies. I am angry at both their attempt to willfully deceive the American people and the arrogance they exhibit in their refusal to answer for their actions. It seems we are experiencing this kind of authoritarian attitude and sense of being above the law from a number of federal agencies right now. APHIS and Wildlife Services can longer continue to deny the obvious and smugly cover up the facts. This is now public and these agencies will have to answer for the choices they've made."

Mind you, the Congressman is primarily referring to the sadistic actions of one USDA WS employee and the rogue agency's attempt to cover up and not have to answer for them -- a kind of "Environmental Watergate" to quote one source.

But, that is the mere tip of the iceberg.

The tortured coyotes left in traps to be attacked and torn apart by dogs are but a tiny fraction of coyotes that USDA WS actually killed last year. -- That number is 76,048.

But, it is not just coyotes and other predators that USDA WS set its sights on.

It also kills millions of birds.

In 2012, these included, but were not limited to:

1,485,449 Starlings

850,505 Brown Headed Cowbirds

306,203 Red Winged Blackbirds

91,181 Pigeons

42,628 Grackles

24,768 Canada geese

21,810 Double Crested Cormorants

7,374 Laughing Gulls

2,648 Mallards

1,382 Red Tail Hawks

And even 3,597 House Finches

USDA WS also kills more common animals such as prairie dogs (12,561)  raccoons (11,486), squirrels (4,688) and even cats (1049) and dogs (437).

In fact, it seems there are few animal species that totally escape the traps, poisons, gas chambers and slaughter that represent USDA WS's "tools of the trade."

(For the full list of animals APHIS killed last year, these are their actual stats:

Some might wonder what WS does the rest of the year when it is not busy rounding up and sending to slaughter, NYC's Canada geese?

We need not wonder anymore.

There are obviously plenty of animals for USDA WS to kill (and profit from) all year long.

We might, however question the "how" of WS's mass captures and killings.

The only reason we know of the coyotes ripped apart by dogs while in traps is due the stupidity of one WS employee who brazenly posted the photos on his Facebook page.  

But, for sure, there is much more of that where that came from.  -- PCA


Monday, June 24, 2013

First, They Came for the Geese.....

Goose Family at Inwood Hills Park photographed earlier in June.  Now, part of USDA Wildlife Services' body count.  
USDA trucks pulling out of Inwood Hills Park last week with goose crates. (Photo: Suzanne Soehner)
"First they came for the geese, then the ducks, then the cormorants,  then the........But, by the time they came for the birds I care about,  everyone else had accepted massacre as the solution to all wildlife/human conflict."

If the above sounds paranoid, then we might consider an article out of Virginia yesterday in which USDA WS is not only rounding up geese for slaughter, but "200 feral ducks" as well. (Not sure what is meant by "feral" ducks, since all ducks with exception of domestic, are technically wild.):

It is already established that Wildlife Services secretly kills millions of animals annually, including large numbers of starlings, geese, gulls, herrings, ducks, cormorants and others:

But, here in New York City the "cash cow" of USDA Wildlife Services is of course, Canada geese.

USDA has begun their annual goose slaughter exceptionally early this year and has already sent hundreds of NYC geese to their secret and publicly hidden deaths (and we are not even into July yet).

Reports are coming in that geese were hit at Van Courtland Park (in the Bronx) last week, Corona Park in Queens and of course, Inwood Park and a West 59th Street Park in Manhattan.

These are just the slaughters we know about -- only one of which (Inwood Park) was reported by any press.

Although some people are taking the time to report sightings of USDA trucks filled with crates of geese, we are not getting critically needed photos and videos of actual roundups.

Without documentation of an incident, it didn't happen.  (At least in the eyes of press.)

That is why, (27) GooseWatch NYC is urging everyone with a cell phone or camera to shoot photos or video of any roundup observed, as well as photograph and keep tabs on any park geese who are potential victims of a USDA roundup:

There is no question now that a full fledged goose carnage is happening in New York City -- perhaps the worst "eradication" effort we have seen in the city since roundups started a number of years ago.

That is because goose massacres have now been expanded to and include Long Island.   

A 5 PM rally and press conference will be held this Wednesday (June 26) at Columbus Circle (near Central Park) to address the clandestine goose slaughters and to debunk the rationalizations used to defend them:

This is the time for every New Yorker who cares about wildlife and nature protection to stand up and be counted, less ultimately we have no wildlife left to care about.

"First they came for the geese, but I said nothing because....."

This struggle is not just about geese.  It is about all wildlife. And it is not just about protest.

It's about questioning the secret and clandestine manner our government, (most notably, USDA Wildlife Services) is operating without press coverage, public input or even (in most cases), awareness.  -- PCA


Sunday, June 23, 2013

The Dream

Wiggly in the sun.
Connie, Connor,and Carol venturing out on cobblestone. (Cochise out of photo range.)
 I was walking through Harlem Meer.

And suddenly, there she was!

Standing tall and proud on the cobblestone steps near the Dana Center, Wiggly was bathed in a band of bright, golden sunlight as she peered over the sparkling, blue waters before her.

"There you are, Wiggly!  Oh, my God, where have you been? I thought you were dead!"

But, immediately, the scene changed.

I was in my living room and had briefly fallen asleep for fifteen minutes.

Coming out of the fog, my first thought was that Wiggly was still alive.  I had, after all, recently seen her on the steps near the Dana Center, happy, healthy and serene!

It wasn't until I got up and actually started to walk around that I realized I was not recalling memory, but rather a dream.

My heart, which had seemingly leaped to my throat, immediately descended.  Back to reality, as the saying goes.

I don't normally dream -- or at least have any recollection of dreams.

That one was so vivid and real as to cause me to still be in it upon awakening was incident rarely experienced over six decades of life.

"Wish fulfillment" Freud would say, no doubt.

Yes, it is a wish that the experiences of the past few weeks would magically disappear and be replaced by not only new attitudes towards the wildlife of our parks, but also the reappearances of both, Honker and Wiggly.

But, the dead cannot be brought back to life and dreams cannot be made into reality.

Or, can they?

I did return to Harlem Meer last night, but the earlier dream did not turn out to be prophetic as much as I might wish (or at least literally).

Empty spaces remained in the marshy places Honker and Wiggly typically stood with their mallard drake boyfriends.

But, the cobblestone steps near the Dana Center were not empty.

The remaining four domestic ducks at Harlem Meer (Cochise, Conner, Connie and Carol) were confidently hanging out on them.

All four stood at the edge of the steps (like Wiggly in the dream) peering out over the lake.

It is difficult to speculate why, in the past few days, the four domestic ducks have taken on this new sense of "adventure" and high risk-taking by leaving the safe, fenced in grassy area on the opposite side of the Dana Center, (where they had been since the beginning of spring) but they have.

And not only are the flightless ducks venturing to the opposite and more public side of the Dana Center (and Harlem Meer) but they are also freely wandering the park lawns at night!

If someone with an off leash dog enters the park, all four suddenly waddle (in a straight line) back to the safety of the water.

This is extremely high risk behavior for ducks who cannot fly.

I am not sure what it means, but am guessing that perhaps the four domestic ducks have simply decided that they don't want to spend the entire summer living in fear and confinement as they did the entire spring.

"Freedom at any cost" seems to be the new motto for them.

Though I am now very concerned for Cochise, Conner, Connie and Carol upon observing this new shift in behavior (as I had observed it in Wiggly and Honker) one cannot deny the joy they are exuding with the new, self-chosen liberation.

One can be quite sure they are aware of the risks of venturing into potentially dangerous territory, but they are obviously opting for living out their lives the way they are meant to be lived as opposed to simply staying "safe" and secure within the confines of a small fenced-in area.

The very last images I have of both, Honker and Wiggly were them freely wandering on park lawns with their mallard lovers.

I hope that doesn't turn out to be the case with the remaining domestic ducks ("last images," that is.)

But, if it does, I will remember that Cochise, Conner, Connie and Carol made the choice to live out their lives according to what came naturally to them and what gave them joy as opposed to what gave them fear.

Perhaps that was the real message of the dream. 

Perhaps in another world, Honker and Wiggly are standing at the edge of cobblestone steps, under a band of bright, golden sunlight and peering out over sparkling blue waters. 

And they are saying, "Not to worry. We have no regrets."  -- PCA


Friday, June 21, 2013

The Heaven and Hell of Nature

Paradise Lost.  Nesting geese, Reservoir.
Wiggly and Romeo last week, Harlem Meer.
Molting Reservoir geese welcome the childless couple this morning.
"Animals run no risk of going to hell.  They are there already."  -- Victor Hugo

 It was only a few days ago that I planned to write an upbeat blog entry. 

One that would, for example, talk about the funny and exceedingly romantic relationship between Wiggly (a domestic, Khaki Campbell duck at Harlem Meer) and her "lap dog" mallard drake boyfriend, Romeo:

"Romeo follows Wiggly around like a love sick puppy! He hasn't left her side since last January!" 

I had also planned to write about the Canada geese currently going through the molt at the Reservoir in Central Park:  

"There always seems to be one adventurous goose who strays from the fold. Last night, while the rest of the family was roosting, one goose was lost on the water and honking loudly and frantically!  'Where are you? I am LOST!'  But, the family members answered back in kind. 'Over here!  Over here, you ninny!'   Eventually, the wayward goose made his way back and all was forgiven, peaceful and quiet again."

And I planned a cheerful and hopeful update on the pair of nesting geese at the Jackie Onassis Reservoir in Central Park: 

"The anxious gander patrols the water constantly even at night.  Other geese at the Reservoir respectfully keep their distance and stay to the east side of the watercourse as the expectant parents (and apparently, the rest of the geese!) eagerly await the hatching of the one egg -- now due any day!"

But, oh how everything changes in just a few days.  As the saying goes, "Life is what happens when you've made other plans."

Instead of funny and amusing, recent blog postings have had to focus on the vile and barbaric:

And if the annual USDA goose roundups and slaughters are not enough in NYC to feel horrible about, there are also the individual acts of mayhem and cruelty carried out against  geese as this news video describes:

But, even the cheerful observances cited at the top of this entry, would have had to be dramatically altered just a few days later.  Truth is, when it rains, it pours:

The Romance is Over at Harlem Meer

The romance is lost at Harlem Meer.  But, not because Wiggly threw Romeo overboard or Romeo tired of being Wiggly's "lap puppy."  Its over because Wiggly suddenly vanished and is no where to be found.

"Wiggly," the second Khaki Campbell duck at the Meer for more than a year disappeared -- just like Honker (her breed twin),  two weeks ago.  

There seems little doubt that bad people are out for the (flightless) domestic ducks at Harlem Meer. I feared Wiggly would be taken as Honker was and now suspect the four remaining domestics at the Meer are also very vulnerable now (especially, the light colored ones).  

Wiggly's mallard boyfriend, "Romeo" must be beside himself as he was so totally devoted to her -- seemingly joined at Wiggly's hip in fact.    But, I could not find Romeo either last night or this morning. Since he looks like the other mallards there, I have to hope that Romeo simply joined up with them and is in the process of healing and adaptation. --(Or, Romeo might be off by himself somewhere, dealing with loss. Fact is,  I have no way of knowing for sure.)

What is painful is walking by the two locations where Honker and Wiggly always stayed with their mallard drake lovers only to find now, empty spaces.  

Wiggly and Honker were my favorite ducks at Harlem Meer.  Honker because of her always, cheerful, upbeat, devil-may-care independence. And Wiggly because of her leadership qualities in organizing the other ducks of Harlem Meer though a difficult,  past winter.

These ducks knew how to survive everything that nature could dish out. But, ultimately, they could not survive what humans had to dish out.  

Funny how Central Park puts up signs "not to feed wildlife."  But, they fail to put up any signs "not to harm or take wildlife."

All the domestic ducks at Central Park (and other parks) are quite literally, "sitting ducks" this time of year -- just like the molting geese are sitting targets for USDA death squads.

And finally, speaking of the geese......

No Goslings This Year at Central Park

The one lonely egg of the remaining nesting goose pair at Reservoir has failed to hatch. (Addling is suspected as occurred with all other Central Park goose eggs this spring, but cannot be proven.)

The egg apparently was unviable and the parents have now abandoned and seemingly joined the other geese.  Interesting that when the pair was nesting at the west side of Reservoir, other geese, in deference, stayed to the east side.  This morning all the geese were to the west side. 

Geese apparently welcome and offer condolence and comfort to geese who have lost their offspring -- even when those geese are not part of their families or flocks.

Then again, considering what happened to the family of geese at Inwood Park whose eggs were allowed to hatch and become goslings, one might be compelled to think of the lost and addled goose eggs at Central Park as blessings in disguise.

As sad and deflating to lose unborn offspring, nothing compares to the sheer mayhem of an entire family -- parents and babies -- rounded up and massacred.

In this new and grotesque world, "The (goose) family that stays together is slayed together."

God have mercy on us who do such destruction on this planet.

If ever this world comes to end, we will know that if we failed to create a heaven on earth for humans, we succeeded in creating a hell for animals. -- PCA


Thursday, June 20, 2013

No Mercy -- The Destruction of Innocence in a New York City Park

"Children Playing." -- Mother goose, her gander and their newly hatched 5 goslings playing at Inwood Park last week.  This week, ripped from park, butchered and now dead.  Mercy nowhere to be found.  (Photo: Joe Dzinski)
 I am not a religious person.

I don't attend church and don't read the bible.  I don't worry whether I will make it through the pearly gates or not.

But, I do remember some things from Catholic grammar school:

Jesus said, "The merciful shall obtain mercy."

I wonder now about the word, "mercy?"

It seems in short supply these days -- particularly with humans' relationship with animals.
(Or, should we more accurately say, "humans abuse of animals."?)

Billions of animals are brutally slaughtered every year.  Millions more are experimented upon and killed in laboratories, as millions are killed in shelters (ironic, considering the meaning of "shelter.") and millions more shot in forests, wetlands and African plains.  

But, if some of us thought that despite all the carnage elsewhere animals were reasonably "safe" from human brutality in urban parks or "Wildlife Refuges" well, that too, has fallen by the way side, especially over the last few years and especially regarding Canada geese.

Yesterday morning our species degenerated to an entire new level, when on a beautiful spring day, one family of Canada geese comprised of "mother goose," her gander and the couple's newly hatched, five baby goslings were ripped from the grass of a peaceful, Inwood Hills Park, stuffed into crates and hauled off to some mysterious slaughterhouse in upstate New York. 

Was mercy anywhere yesterday?

I wonder about the people paid to do such a "job?"  What exactly do they tell themselves?  Is any pay check worth the self destruction of all consciousness and mercy?

I wonder about the people who signed off on the death warrants (like Mayor Bloomberg) for this family of geese (and hundreds of their brethren from the NYC area)?  And I wonder of those who put into place the actual "plan" for such wide scale massacre of innocent and completely defenseless park wildlife.

Does mercy even exist in their vocabulary?

Of course the city and USDA WS spokesperson, Carol Bannerman will offer us all kinds of rationalizations and explanations for the unexplainable:

"The geese fly into airliners."  "We are donating the geese to food banks."

But, the fact is that two week old goslings don't fly into airliners and nor would baby goslings even feed a goldfish.

In their short stint on the planet earth, these tiny goslings only knew human cruelty, barbarity and insidious rationalization for evil.

Geese have flown for thousands of years and no one died.  Humans fly for a century and millions of birds die -- including their babies only weeks old.

We need to ask ourselves, what is wrong in that picture?

I am all for human safety. But, the reality is that these ten geese peacefully grazing on park grass were "threat" to nothing and no one.  And nor were the geese rounded up and slaughtered yesterday from a West 59th street Manhattan park, "threat" to anything.

These are just the things we tell ourselves to justify the unjustifiable and to blunt out all trace of mercy and conscience.

That the geese's cruel and unjustified deaths were only reported by one media outlet (The Daily News) while New Yorkers are kept informed on what Kim Kardashion will name her baby, raises questions that have no real answer.

"The merciful shall obtain mercy."

What will the answer be when, arriving to the pearly gates and expecting entrance, we are instead queried on our mercy to the meek and powerless among us while on earth?

Can we run off celebrity names or point to our athletic or scholarly achievements in life?

Or, will we be forced to ask, "Mercy. What is that?"

For sure, mercy was no where to be found yesterday in certain New York City parks. -- Places where families of innocent geese who, only last week were happily playing in grass are this week, slaughtered. butchered and their remains mostly discarded in the trash(despite ludicrous, "food" claims.)

One needs to look long and hard for mercy these days as it appears to be slowly vanishing in the remnants of violence and mutilated body parts.    --  PCA


Wednesday, June 19, 2013

NYC Goose Bloodbaths Begin -- Carnage in Inwood Park

It is only the 19th of June, but USDA "Wildlife (Extermination) Services" goose slaughters have already begun in New York City -- even before all geese are fully molting.

At 7:30 this morning,  folks visited Inwood Park in New York City only to discover USDA trucks pulling out and all but one goose gone. (The location only had about a dozen geese.) The story has just been reported in the Daily News:

A flock of 7 geese just flew into the Central Park (Jackie Onassis) Reservoir a couple of days ago. At the time I thought it a bit strange that geese were still moving around at a time they would normally be settled down for the molt.  But, one now has to suspect these geese escaped a WS roundup somewhere else because they could still fly.  (The one goose who escaped roundup today at Inwood Park was probably still capable of some flight, but did not want to leave flock mates.) 

The early starting dates of WS goose roundups in New York City suggests an all out carnage planned for this summer.

But, of course the people of New York City are not informed about these roundups in advance.   As mentioned in earlier blog entries, we only find out about them after the fact -- if indeed we learn of them at all. 

The citizens of New York City are apparently not entitled to "Community Notification" as are citizens elsewhere.

I called Central Park Conservancy and my City Councilperson this morning demanding to know if a goose roundup and slaughter is planned for Central Park?  

I received a return call from Frank LaCastro, (a high official with Central Park Conservancy) a few minutes ago, assuring me that, "No geese will be rounded up from Central Park."

It is hoped that such assurance can be taken literally -- although knowing the secrecy that most USDA goose roundups occur, one can never be sure about anything.  Quite often, park officials don't always know about the roundups until a day or two before they actually are conducted. 

It seems that despite any reassurances given, we the people, still need to be on our toes in terms of monitoring our parks for the next month and keeping accurate counts on our (now) flightless and totally defenseless and vulnerable geese.

(For more on this, please go to: (27) GooseWatch NYC)

If USDA shows up, it is usually around the crack of dawn and they usually have park rangers and law enforcement with them.

They don't like their photos taken or any kind of public or media scrutiny.

Breaking late word is that a small handful of geese were also rounded up this morning from 59th Street and the West Side (at Hudson River.)   No number of geese is apparently too low for a WS roundup.

The clandestine goose bloodbaths have officially begun in New York City and no geese from city parks (or wildlife sanctuary) can now be considered fully "safe" and protected.

The citizens are kept in the dark as the geese (and their babies) are silently trucked away with the rising sun, to their unceremonious and brutal deaths. -- PCA

Monday, June 17, 2013

Father's Day -- of Geese and Humans

Gander checks water and protects mate sitting on egg at Central Park Reservoir.
"Rocky Raccoon" given warnings from geese to stay away.
The gander and the raccoon.
The last egg at CP trying to make it.....
Mama goose carefully attending to egg and nest.
 Father's Day was yesterday.

But, it is not a day I normally celebrate.

My parents split when I was two and I only saw my dad twice after that.  Once at age 12 and again at 28.

To say my dad was aloof and disengaged would be the understatement of the ages.

Perhaps this is part of the reason I so admire Canada geese.

Ganders are anything but "disengaged" from their mates and offspring.

On the contrary, from the moment the female goose sits on a nest, the gander's life is entirely devoted to the protection of that nest, its eggs and his mate.

As previously mentioned, the eggs of nesting goose pairs at Central Park this year were apparently oiled and to this point, none have hatched.  This suspicion was confirmed over the past week by two wildlife observers who reported seeing a man from Geese Police use a kayak to get to one goose nest at Turtle Pond in May.  

Although geese will flap wings, hiss and attempt to chase away when their eggs are threatened, such actions are completely impotent and futile to ward off humans.

But, geese are not always easily deterred -- even when eggs fail to hatch or nests are destroyed.  

Some geese attempt to nest again as this news piece describes:

Apparently, one pair of determined geese whose earlier attempt failed have nested again at Central Park. 

Granted, the nesting occurs very late in the season for geese (late May) and granted, there is only one egg in the nest. (Usually, geese lay three to six eggs.)

But, the two geese are making a valiant attempt and once again, the gander has completely devoted himself to the protection of his mate and potential (one) offspring by keeping constant patrol and vigilance on the water for what is now nearly a month.

Yesterday, there was a lovely family, comprised of Dad, Mom and two children (about age 8 to 12 years) who were fascinated by the nesting goose and her one egg. 

"You see over there?" I asked pointing to the gander further away in the water.  "That is the goose's mate and it is his job to patrol the water and keep special eye out for the raccoons.   Raccoons can sometimes steal eggs, so geese have to be wary of them."

"Really?" the people asked.  "Where are the raccoons?"

"I think there is only one raccoon here.  He usually comes out around dusk, so it is a little early yet.   However, the gander already has his eye out for the raccoon and that is why he is patrolling so close along the rocks.  If the raccoon comes too close to the nest, the gander will join his mate and both geese will stand up, flap wings and hiss at the raccoon and he will move away."

The young girl and boy began to look along the rocks of the Reservoir for the raccoon, but he had not yet appeared.

"Do you know when the egg will hatch?" the father asked.

"I am not exactly sure when the goose nested, but she has been sitting on the egg at least since the end of May." I replied.   I am guessing some time within the next ten days or so."

I did not tell the family about the suspected egg oiling (i.e. egg destruction) or USDA goose roundups soon to occur in NYC parks as I did not want to upset them -- especially the children and especially on a family oriented holiday.

I could only secretly hope that this one last egg from one remaining goose couple would be allowed to hatch in Central Park as there is at least one human family now eagerly awaiting the new birth (as are obviously the goose pair).

How sad for children to so anticipate something only to see the unviable eggs disintegrate on the rocks and the parent geese openly grieve as earlier occurred at the Reservoir in late May.

As of yesterday, the one goose egg appeared to be still viable, but one can only guess at what will be the case a week from now.

Will there be a proud mother goose showing off her new gosling to the thousands of visitors and children of Central Park?

Will there be a vigilant new father goose relentlessly guarding and protecting his mate and new baby from any raccoons, hawks or other threats?

Or, will it be instead another sad scene of bereaved and confused parents over a tattered, unviable egg?

I am hoping there will be reason to celebrate Father's Day next week.

But, I fear instead, it will be like Fathers Days of years -- and recent weeks past.

Disengagement.  -- PCA


Saturday, June 15, 2013

Who Knows Where or When? (Goose massacres to occur)

An already molting goose at NYC's Central Park.  But, is he now a sitting goose for USDA "Wildlife Services?"
 Some, though not all, of the geese in NYC have begun the molt.

But, since geese will not leave their families and flock mates (even if still able to fly), it is presumed that the geese we are seeing now in community parks will stay put for next six weeks or so. 

Their now useless wings do not allow them the freedom and escape of flight.

That is bad news for those geese who have chosen to molt in supposedly "safe" locations that are instead on the USDA WS hit list for 2013.

Of course we in New York City are not granted the luxury of being informed exactly where or when WS roundups will occur as people in many other communities are.  Though citizens living in the NYC area pay some of the highest taxes of the entire country, we are apparently granted fewer rights to know and community notifications.

Rather, we learn of goose massacres in New York City after the fact.

We know (via the clandestine goose killing contract between NYC and USDA WS that runs through 2014) that goose killings will absolutely occur.  We just don't know where or when.

Putting aside the sentiments of an old Dion and the Bemonts song, there is nothing romantic about knowing something bad will occur, but not given the respect of specifics.

"Those who have nothing to hide, hide nothing."

City officials and the USDA have said in the past that they don't announce locations and dates of NYC goose roundups because, "People showing up to protest would stress out the geese."

They obviously know that what they are doing is wrong on many levels as well as unpopular with many folks, but they don't care and rather, seek to hide.

As for the pretense of caring about "stress on the geese," that is laughable considering the geese are being rounded up for extermination. (USDA's word, not mine.)

Once again, some of us in NYC have to be worried and vigilant about the park geese we personally see and know.  Once again, some of us will get up with the crack of dawn in order to rush to parks and bear witness if necessary to a potential goose roundup. And once again, none of us can take anything for granted -- even in parks (like Central Park) that have active goose hazing and egg addling programs that have kept resident park goose numbers very low.

It makes one wonder about "government to, for and by the people"?

The people of New York City never voted for goose massacres and nor are most  even aware they will occur as the topic has been mostly ignored by the press or poorly and scantily reported. There has never been political discussion of the ethics or even the effectiveness of goose "exterminations."  It is a "non-issue" that has widely been swept under the rug of public awareness and consciousness.  

Currently, we have approximately 30 geese in all of Central Park.  These are comprised of geese who have previously hatched in Central Park and/or regularly used the location for molting.  It is not a high number of geese for a park that is comprised of 843 acres.  But, even these 30 or so pitiful geese cannot rest assured that they are "safe."  (USDA WS has, for example, rounded up as few as 8 geese from some locations in the past.)

"And so it seems we have stood before.......Some things that happen for the first time seem to be happening again......"

Call it, deja vu or simply reliving nightmares. 

The nightmare of Prospect Park and dozens of other New York City parks (including a so-called, "national wildlife refuge") revisited. -- Parks and sanctuaries that have become sites of wildlife massacres over the past few years instead of the peaceful retreats they were once originally intended.

"But, who knows where or when?"

The people of NYC have right to know exactly where and when goose massacres are due to occur in our community parks and wildlife sanctuaries. The people have right to know government intentions and actions planned behind our backs and with none of our input.

And the people should have voice and rights to protest when necessary.

Real life (and death) is not a romantic song. -- PCA


Thursday, June 13, 2013

Mad (Avenue) Quotes from USDA Wildlife Services --Targeting College Campus Geese

"Really?" this yearling goose asks.
 USDA "Wildlife Services" is a very busy governmental agency -- especially this time of year.

Among its millions of wildlife killings annually, are of course, Canada geese. 

But, not only is WS engaged in the actual roundups of these defenseless birds when they are in the helpless state of molting and flightlessness, but WS is apparently also in the  murky and questionable business of drumming up work for newly opened "processing plants" (i.e. slaughterhouses) and attempting to sell goose culls to college campuses.

Recently, at Southern Illinois University, Edwardsville, controversy arose when it was announced that the University was entering into a plan with WS to round up and slaughter campus geese and "donate" them to so called, "food pantries."

Both, students and professors objected to the proposed cull and at the last minute, it was canceled due to protests.

Not one to easily give up, WS Public Affairs Spokesperson, Carol Bannerman is still attempting to "sell" the massacre as some kind of charitable act as the below article cites:

Ms. Bannerman is very good at her job and has been doing it for years.

Terms like "charity harvest," "humanely transported" and "good quality protein" conjure up cozy images of Thanksgiving in June.  But, they are hardly reality. Rather they are akin to the slickest of the slick "spin" from Madison Avenue ad men.

With this in mind, I emailed the letter below to Ms. Bannerman.  WS stoops to a new low when trying to sell wildlife slaughters to our impressionable and growing young minds as well as drumming up business for a "new Illinois processing plant opened up in the last year:"
"Dear Ms. Bannerman,

Referring to your quotes in the following article, I am curious how you and your colleagues at WS came up with these?

Even if he drank five bottles of booze straight, Don Draper (of Mad Men) couldn't come up with gems like these and nor could his weed smoking underlings.

"Humanely transported."  -- How many geese are crammed into those turkey crates together?  Five?  Six?  Guess we could squeeze 10 people into a Volkswagon and call that "humane" -- but it kind of renders the word meaningless.

You "separate the grown geese from the small ones."   -- Nice way of saying, Ms. Bannerman, that you split up the parents from their goslings.  All animals (including human ones) jealously guard and protect their young. That must be quite a scene when WS workers are "separating" the families.  Do you call it, "Sophie's Choice?" -- Only in this case, Sophie has no choice because she, her mate and her youngsters are all going to the same hell.

How nice that you don't round up the geese in the rain. Considering that water rolls off a goose's back, one cannot believe that is to spare the geese any discomfort as to spare your workers the inconvenience of getting wet.

And when it is hot, you round up the geese "in the mornings."   How merciful and compassionate. One suspects however, the sunrise roundups are done to avoid being seen by members of the public who might then call the press. We sure would not want another NY Times "Prospect Park," would we?

You guarantee the geese will be "exterminated within 24 hours."  (Thank you for at least not using the term, "euthanized" which most college kids understand the meaning of.) 

But, according to FOIR reports, geese were not "exterminated" within 24 hours when sent to a "processing plant" in Madison, Wisconsin two years ago.  And we have seen no documentations or proof of any kind as to when or even where geese rounded up in NYC over past two years were slaughtered (or gassed).   Why should anyone take your word on this, Ms. Bannerman?   "The best predictor of future behavior is past behavior."   Actions unfortunately speak louder than words.

Finally, you refer to the goose carcases as "high quality protein."   How can you say that when the so-called meat carries warning labels not to eat more than once a month?  How can you say that when geese who typically weigh from ten to twelve pounds yield less than one pound of edible meat?  How can you say that when you have no idea what these animals have been ingesting? -- In most cases, pesticide laden grass.  Ms. Bannerman, would you feed this stuff (from molting, sickly geese) to your children?  Do you not care what we are "donating" to downtrodden humans who can be presumed to have minimal or non-existent health insurance?

Granted, you did not say much in the above article. But, what you did say, Ms. Bannerman would certainly be worthy of a full episode on Mad Men if only the TV series were taking place in real and present time.

If the staff and students at the university buy this, they will apparently buy anything. I guess WS can always hope they are all strung up on booze, weed or LSD.

But, for those of us actually living on this planet, we have to hope that Mad Men is eventually modified to occur in the present and is focused, not on Madison Ave, but government bureaucrats.   Perhaps, Ms. Bannerman, you can be the new Don Draper substitute to represent "women's progress" in the 21st century?

Have a nice day....."

Regarding Ms. Bannerman's substitution of the term "exterminated" for what used to be referred to as "euthanasia," it is interesting that WS has gone from comparing geese to beloved, but terminal pets whose suffering is ended through euthanasia to instead, vermin that needs to be "exterminated."

That seems to suggest the role WS sees itself these days. 

Rather than a governmental agency whose purpose is to responsibly aid the citizens in solving complex and legitimate  problems, it is rather acting like a private extermination company that shows up with poisons, traps, corrals or mobile gas chambers anytime someone has a complaint or irrational fear about an animal.

The charge of geese "attacking" people on campus is particular ludicrous in light of the fact the only means geese have of defending themselves are flapping wings, toothless hisses or a couple of honks as the below video demonstrates from the SIUE campus:

One suspects the video was shot by one of Bannerman's relatives.  Though supposed to show the "aggression" of geese, it merely calls into question the mental state of the photographer.

That only we could say, "Achevidesein" (sic) to the spin doctors at WS like Bannerman and (from the YouTube video above) their mentally questionable pals and supporters.   -- PCA