Friday, June 7, 2013

"Where There's a Will, There's a Way!" the Resilient Geese Say

"Where there is will, there is way!"
Although Canada geese are normally ground nesting birds, they are seemingly resorting to incredible and creative measures these days to insure their eggs hatch -- including building nests on top of buildings, terraces and even a high tower overlooking a ball field.

From Sandspoint, Long Island comes this amazing video shot this past week of goslings having to jump 100 feet to the ground from a tower:

Incredibly all six goslings survived the perilous leap and are later photographed at a nearby lake swimming with their proud parents:

It has often been written in this blog of the adaptability of Canada geese and the video and photograph above are evidence to that willingness and capability to adapt and survive even the predations and egg destructions of man.

All over the country, Canada geese have been (for some years now), widely hunted, slaughtered, gassed, "relocated" (when flightless) to hunting ranges, harassed and finally (the last insult), their eggs destroyed.

But, it would be difficult for even most humans to get to a goose nest 100 feet off the ground.

About a week ago, I wrote of the "abuses" of non-lethal goose population control methods such as harassment and egg addling when conducted for mere reasons of convenience as opposed to verifiable goose "overpopulation" problems in an area.

The consequences of such abuse can result in a much smarter, more resilient and far more adaptable bird.  A bird who (like very maligned and persecuted coyotes) figures out how to "compensate" for endless predations by breeding more and breeding in unusual places.

Studies conducted on coyotes over the years have, for example, indicated that when breeding in areas they are not relentlessly persecuted and killed, they produce much smaller litters and breed less often.  

That is the basic rule of nature.

Animals breed according the carrying capacity of the environment and the volume of predations upon them.  (The same is actually true of humans who reproduce more babies in areas plagued by war, poverty and high losses of young.)

Put simply, the more predation, the more various life forms reproduce in attempt to compensate for that predation and loss.

Of course, ten of thousands of species have ultimately succumbed to the predations of man and future human generations are unlikely to ever see a bengal tiger, rhino or elephant in the wild.  These animals simply cannot reproduce enough to make up for unending human assault and destruction upon them.

But, coyotes and Canada geese appear to be different.

There is a YouTube video (produced by HSUS) showing how various forms of goose harassment can and do effectively eliminate the so-called "need" for goose roundups and gassings in urban parks.

But, one needs to question where we draw the lines on "tools" represented by harassment and egg destruction?

Do we only pull the plugs on these manipulations of nature when there are NO geese left to "harass" and no eggs to oil in urban parks?

But, where did all the hazed and harassed geese go?

More than fifty years ago, when realizing that wild, migratory Canada geese were on the verge of extinction due to over-hunting, Wildlife Biologists and hunting clubs sought to re-establish the Canada goose population through a captive breeding program in which the descendents of human-raised (and imprinted) geese were released throughout the United States.

But, "experts" apparently did not figure that geese hatched in this country would have no instinct to "migrate" to countries far north and further, that geese acclimated to humans would no longer have natural fear of heavily human populated areas.

Thus, the "resident" Canada goose was essentially created by humans.

The same resident Canada goose that is now so vilified and endlessly persecuted by the very species that created them.

So, do we now compound our errors and tampering with wildlife by creating even more ways to torment, "chase" and destroy?

Where do the wild, resident Canada geese now go when harassed from or destroyed in urban parks and wildlife refuges?

Apparently, they go to shopping malls, college campuses and even high towers overlooking ball fields.

"Where there's a will, there's a way!"  the ever-adaptable Canada goose says.

And some of us humans who actually respect and value geese ask, "What would happen if we simply learned to live with geese and left them alone?"

One ventures to guess that (contrary to all the hype), the sky would not fall down and nor would tiny goslings be forced to jump from 100 foot towers as means of adaptation to human ignorance and intolerance. -- PCA



Anonymous said...

You write a beautiful blog--if only more people were like you. I've been monitoring a park in Queens for a year and there's this Pekin duck (like the Aflac Geico )who I guess was spared somebody's dinner, and has been in the park for at least a year (there's also plenty of mallards). What can I feed it--I can't find cracked corn. Is a box of whole grain breakfast cereal ok? It's really a sweety. All true, it was us who created the "resident" geese, and they're paying dearly for our meddling. From the literature I've read, these residents--like all migrants--retain the instinct or "urge" to migrate, but lost the migratory skills since Canadas must learn migration from parents or family members--sad history what we've done to them. Thanks much.

PCA said...

Thank you so much for the comment. It is much appreciated.

Regarding your question of what to feed the Pekin duck. Generally, there is plenty of food in most parks in the spring and summer for the birds -- even domestic ducks. However, in the fall they need to build fat reserves for winter and of course, in winter food supplies are low. If you cannot find cracked corn in your area, you should be able to purchase wild bird feed, black oiled sunflower seeds or barley in pet supply or grocery stores. The waterfowl likes these too and they are nutritious.

Thank you too, for caring about Canada geese. Yes, it is not pretty what we have done and continue to do to these wondrous creations of nature. They are now among the most maligned animals on earth -- or what we might call, "The big bad geese" as we used to refer to wolves.

Human ignorance knows no bounds.