Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Study in Goose Management Contrasts: Central Park and Prospect Park

Central Park geese this summer.
Some might wonder when reading yesterday's blog entry (part of which dealt with excessive goose harassment and egg addling in Prospect Park) if it is wise and prudent to oppose such measures of non-lethal goose management in all instances?
Certainly not.
But, like anything else, such measures have to be carefully weighed according to the situation they are fitted to address.
Anything -- from cell phones to the keeping of pets -- has potential for abuse and/or excess.
As previously noted in this blog, Central Park conducted goose harassment and egg addling earlier in the spring.
Though not a personal fan of these measures, one has to understand the responsibilities of a park to balance the needs of wildlife with the human use demands that are especially heavy during spring and summer.
There was also the very real concern that a large, (summer) goose population in a park less than five miles from an airport could potentially result in government agency pressures on Central Park Conservancy for a USDA goose "cull."
Certainly, one would not want to see that.
But, one of the key differences between Central Park and Prospect Park is that CP already has an established "resident" goose population that has, through non-lethal measures (such as hazing and egg addling), been successfully contained for years without resorting to massacre of the entire resident goose population.
The goal is to maintain, contain and keep in balance with the rest of a park's amenities, the resident goose population.
Proof that the non-lethal measures (mentioned above) are effective in Central Park is the fact that for at least the past three years, the resident goose population (those geese who return to Central Park for molting or nesting every spring) has remained a steady and consistent 35 - 40.    Certainly, a publicly acceptable resident goose population for an 843 acre park -- even in the summer.  (Should however, this number drop precipitously over next few years, it would be necessary to protest any further egg addling or excessive harassment.)  
But, Prospect Park is very different from Central Park.
For many years, Prospect Park did nothing to address its growing population of resident geese. 
By the summer of 2010, the resident goose population at Prospect Park had grown to 352 -- including, 40 newly hatched goslings.
It therefore, should have come as little surprise to anyone paying attention that the hapless Prospect Park geese and their babies would be targeted by USDA and other governmental agencies for a "cull" in July of 2010.
Residents of the community were understandably distraught and angered when visiting Prospect Park during that fateful July week to discover all the geese and their babies gone. Some even called The New York Times who then investigated and reported the goose roundup and gassing in a series of articles. 
Moreover, as mentioned yesterday, various wildlife and goose protection groups sprang up following the Prospect Park massacre of its entire population of resident geese.
But, then follow the questions that are hard to answer.
Specifically, "Where do we go from here?"
There was some contention and disagreement among goose advocates as to the proper actions to avoid another USDA massacre of future Prospect Park geese.
Some organizations and individuals (such as HSUS) advocated for non-lethal harassment and egg addling as previously described, while others such as Friends of Animals only supported landscape modification. 
The answer, (despite noble intentions of both propositions) is that neither position is totally right or totally wrong.  As said at the top of this post, it depends upon the particulars of the individual parks, as well as the overall situation city and state wide.
Since New York City is already in the cross hairs of federal, state and city agencies in terms of "goose reduction," it is a certain reality that no park is going to be allowed to have its resident goose population explode to the hundreds without being subjected to kills.
So, yes, it was necessary for Prospect Park to come up with a plan to effectively manage and contain its resident goose population.
The problem was, Prospect Park (unlike Central Park) no longer had a resident population of geese to maintain and "contain."
The fact that for the past three years Prospect Park has been conducting harassment mostly on visiting geese passing through and even a couple of years ago, migratory geese in winter speaks to the park leadership's ineptness and inertia to actually study the issue and respond with responsibility and flexibility as opposed to "knee jerk" reaction.
I and others previously protested PP's harassment of migratory geese in winter and according to the conversation with Ms. Wong the other day, PP (thankfully) no longer does this.
But, it was also unnecessary and excessive to harass the small flock of geese at PP this past spring and to oil the eggs of two geese attempting to nest.
Prospect Park is a sizable park with a very large lake.
In 2010, more than 300 geese used the site for safe molting and many goslings successfully hatched.
Three years later, NO geese are allowed to molt at Prospect Park or raise young in this location.  Prospect Park is still wiped out of its entire resident goose population as, quite simply, none are allowed to exist.
If Central Park is the model for goose consistency, humane maintenance and containment, Prospect Park is the model for ("all or nothing") extremes.  
Sadly, the humane management tools of goose harassment and egg addling, have in Prospect Park been abused in excess to basically empty its lawns and lake of all potential  resident geese.   The fact that a few geese sometimes fly in now or during the winter do not speak to the true realities of Prospect Park.
What should have been done (and needs to be done now) in this location is a serious examination and determination of what the resident goose Wildlife Acceptance Capacity  (WAC) is. 
When nearly reached, is when harassment and egg addling should kick in.
Otherwise -- like texting on cell phones while driving -- goose harassment and egg destruction are simply tools for abuse whenever and wherever they occur for human intolerance and/or paranoia.  -- PCA

Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Prospect Park (and Other) Geese Mysteries

Eyes on skies. Since regaining flight feathers, most geese flying now. But the mystery of where they go, however, known only to them.
 "Only Four Feathers!"
The call that I had been expecting came last night:
"There were only four feathers at the Boat lake tonight!" 
"Feathers" is Liliana speak for geese.
My Romanian friend who regularly monitors the Central Park Boat Lake was calling to report that most of the 13 geese there for the molt had regained flight feathers and left the scene.
"Well, you know, Liliana, the geese are sick of the same old menu and want to check out other restaurants around town!" I laughed.  "Besides, they are happy to have their flight feathers again and need to take advantage of them."
Liliana also reported a bunch of "her" mallards leaving.
"Yep," I answered. "Your mallards seemed to have shown up tonight at the Reservoir -- along with four new geese!   You know the ducks like to hang -- and fly with the geese!" 
But the real point is, if you got wings, you gotta use them.
And both geese and ducks are highly aware of and responsive to that special ability that nature provides.
New York skies a cacophony of honking, parading and adventurous geese and ducks these days;  the mysteries of where they go known only to them.  
Goldie Ducks and the Three geese
The scene had once again changed at Harlem Meer last night.
The gaggle of three geese there for a few days mysteriously packed their wings and took off.
They were replaced by a haughty, mated goose pair who took up temporary residence at the fenced in area by the Dana Center where the four domestic ducks and Cago, the loner Canada goose typically stay.
The scene was actually quite touching when first happened upon.
Cochise, Conner, Connie and Carol (the four domestics) curled themselves into a ball together and were peacefully napping -- as three geese stood as "sentries" to the right and left of them.  The goose pair were on the right side of the sleeping ducks and Cago on the left.   Small wonder the domestics could take advantage for a nap with "security" all around them.  (I regretted forgetting my camera. -- It would have been a fantastic photo.)
Sensing my presence the sleepy ducks awoke and waddled towards me in greeting.
Cago (the ever human-acclimated goose) also approached.
I tossed a handful of cracked corn to the gregarious waterfowl when the newly arrived goose pair moved in curiously.
But, the gander of the two was more interested in razzing and putting poor Cago in his place than partaking of any treat.
"Don't get any ideas about menage et tois!  We are not into that!"
It was clear that these two geese would not even consider adding poor Cago to their cozy number.  And so he will have to continue to wait.
But, the four domestic ducks and a few mallards appreciated the extra goose security last night.   
Ten geese may be too many and one goose not enough.
But, somehow the three geese were "just right" to curl up in a ball and snooze -- even at the height of evening pedestrian human traffic at Harlem Meer.
The Mystery, Contradictions and Indelible Stain of Prospect Park
As most geese are freely moving about now, apparently a few even ventured into Prospect Park in Brooklyn over the last day or two.
These are indeed "adventuresome" geese as Prospect Park is a hot bed of both, past goose roundup and gassing in 2010 and regular goose harassment over the past three years.
Prospect Park has also served as the birthplace of Goosewatch,NYC (in response to the 2010 massacre) as well as a couple of smaller (and sorely needed), wildlife advocacy groups.
But, Prospect Park remains shrouded in mystery, contradiction and uncertainty even three years beyond the cull that took all 352 of its resident Canada geese and grabbed national media attention -- most notably, The New York Times.
Earlier this spring, the few geese who considered Prospect Park a possible safe place for molting were unceremoniously given the bum's rush by GooseBusters.
Additionally, two geese who attempted to nest at Prospect Park had their eggs promptly oiled and prevented from hatching.  Soon after, the would-be parent geese were either chased out of Prospect Park or left of their own accord.  The beleaguered pair quickly got the "message" that Prospect Park was not a welcoming place for geese -- especially in the summer.  
The result of all this was that there were no geese at Prospect Park through this summer's molt and none until the last day or two.
Curious about this, I called the Prospect Park Alliance yesterday and spoke with a woman named Ann Wong.
Wong assured me that, "Zero tolerance of geese" was (despite appearances) "not the goal of the Prospect Park Alliance."
She conceded that goose harassment was conducted at Prospect Park during the spring but claimed this was due to "threat" from the DEC that if there were "more than 20 geese at Prospect  Park during the summer molt, they would all be culled."
Other than trying to track someone down at the DEC who can either refute or confirm the claim, this is a difficult statement to verify or quite frankly, even believe.
On its face, the statement makes little sense.
Putting aside the fact that it is the USDA (not the DEC) who conducts goose count "surveys" around New York City in June and generally suggests or determines which parks are targeted for goose kills, it defies common sense that government agencies would target 20 geese in a park nearly nine miles from the closest airport and leave 40 geese alone in a park less than five miles from an airport (Central Park).
If true, this claim would call into question (and actually debunk) the entire justification for goose kills in New York City -- "airline safety."
Or, it could simply be that different entities in bureaucracy generally like to point fingers at other agencies ("Its their call or their doing.").   One has to consider this might actually be the case with the Prospect Park Alliance.  (i.e. "It's the DEC's doing.  We are merely trying to prevent another roundup.")
Despite my questions and skepticism, Ms. Wong stuck to the claim. Whether true or untrue, it is obviously something she believes (or was told).
But here is the real conundrum regarding the now infamous Prospect Park:
In 2010, the Prospect Park "resident" goose population was entirely wiped out.
The only way any geese establish a population in PP is if a few manage to raise a few goslings in the future or choose it as safe location for molting.
But, neither is being allowed to occur as Ms. Wong also indicated that goose harassment and egg addling will continue at Prospect Park "six weeks before the molt" next year and presumably in following years.
So, while it may be true that Prospect Park is not completely intolerant of any geese any time of year, it is certainly intolerant of any established, resident geese.  
The few geese who ventured into Prospect Park over the past couple of days had better the message:
"Its OK to have to have a couple of meals here, but don't even think about staying.  Prospect Park has zero tolerance for resident geese."
Then again, considering that most geese are menu testing these days and exploring horizons, the geese probably won't stay long anyway. 
Geese have a funny way of knowing which places put out welcome mats for them and which don't -- Prospect Park sadly being among the latter.  
Though since washed out and hung up to dry, the indelible stain of the 2010 goose massacre will forever remain on the vestiges of Prospect Park. -- PCA

Monday, July 29, 2013

Alone Again, Naturally -- A Loner Goose (Still) Patiently Waits

Cago -- disappointed, but not undaunted.  He knows his time and his new flock mates will eventually come.
Alone again, naturally.

What appeared to be heading towards a happy ending for Cago, the solo Canada goose at Harlem Meer in Central Park since June, turned out not to be.

The gaggle of ten geese Cago attempted to assimilate himself into left the Meer before the weekend.  It was simply not enough time for goose bonding or acceptance to take place.

Apparently, Harlem Meer was just a brief stopping point for the flock of ten. Or it could be all the human, dog and fishermen activity at the Meer was just too much for geese who had spent the summer molt at the much quieter, Jackie Onassis Reservoir.

In any event, Cago is once again on his own.

Part of me suspects that since Cago was still capable of flying at the end of June (when most geese were molting), he went through the molt late and even if he wanted to leave with the flock of ten, he was unable to.   I am not convinced Cago has all his flight feathers yet.

Nevertheless, three more geese arrived at Harlem Meer over the weekend (also from the Reservoir, most likely).

But, Cago has mostly kept respectable distance from the three.

In fact, during his time at the Meer, Cago has grown quite comfortable with ducks and with humans.

I remember one evening seeing Cago standing just a few feet from a fishermen and he did not appear in the least bit anxious or nervous.

This past Saturday, Cago was nonchalantly sunning himself in the grass by the water, not more than ten feet from several families enjoying picnics.

It seems I am more worried for Cago than the loner Canada goose is for himself.

So, will Cago try to align himself with the three new geese at the Meer?

That all depends upon how long they stay.

But these days, most geese are happy to have their flight feathers back and tend not to hang in any one location too long.   "Pond hopping" is the rule of the day for most geese now.

It appears Cago still has to wait for that one flock who sticks around long enough to accept a new goose into their clan.

But, the solitary goose is undaunted.

Cago has his duck friends and he is neither frightened nor nervous about all the human activities of Harlem Meer.

Patience is another virtue known well to Canada geese.

Cago has plenty of that. 

He knows he too will have his flight feathers back shortly and there will be an eventual goose flock to take him in.

But, for now it is "Alone again, naturally."  -- PCA


Sunday, July 28, 2013

These Geese (Reaction or Proaction?)

The last two remaining geese at Jackie Onassis Reservoir in Central Park. The female (right) sill molting and not yet able to fly.  Her mate loyally  stays with her, despite the rest of the flock moving on when regaining flight feathers. (Observations of Canada geese, Central Park)
 During the past six weeks of goose roundups in New York City, hits on this blog and new likes on goose related Facebook pages increased nearly ten fold.

The issue of goose massacres has suddenly captured public attention especially in the aftermath of publicized USDA WS goose slaughters around the country, including Virginia, North Carolina, Tennessee and of course, New York City.

But, one has to wonder if this is simply reaction as we tend to see every year around this time, or could it at last be representing, proaction in the sense of people wanting to become and stay involved with the issue?

That is a hard question to answer as only time inevitably tells.

It is unfortunately easy to think that because goose roundups are "over" for this year, it makes sense to move on to something else.

But, that is only to predict and guarantee the same cycle for next year: --  Wildlife killing and temporary public reaction and protest.

As a USDA official said to me a couple of years ago, "Sure, people are upset for a little while.  But, then they go home and turn on football."

Putting aside the fact that football is not a summer sport, the statement is nonetheless, generally true.

Once the media stories, comments or letters fade from the Internet or newspapers, what else is one to do?

But, sometimes life is what happens when you've made other plans. 

That is actually the way geese happened for me. 

I inadvertently noticed geese when my life and plan was focused elsewhere.

And then came NYC goose roundups and slaughters. 

And then came everything else.....

This morning there was an interesting commentary featured on CBS Sunday Morning:

A man, Mark Hirsch, who had enjoyed a successful career as a newspaper photojournalist was laid off from his job.

Hirsch was able to establish himself as a free lance photographer, but some time after that, he was in a serious automobile accident and his life and career took a plunge.

It was then he noticed a tree that had long been missed in his neighborhood.

He began taking photos of the tree -- 365 of them over the course of a year.

The photos were taken at different times, different seasons and often of the wildlife temporarily inhabiting the tree.

Hirsch created a successful Facebook page of his captivating photos and apparently now these are being incorporated into a book:

What does a story like this teach and show us?

It demonstrates that real life and real change is not about reaction or even plan, but, the small things of everyday life (that we ordinarily take for granted or don't even notice) and the directions these can take us if we open our eyes and minds to them.

Personally, I don't believe real change for the geese who for decades now, are being relentlessly hunted, demonized, harassed and destroyed will occur because of any temporary social "reaction," protest or plan, but rather the simple human actions of consistent and patient observance, engagement, recording and appreciation (just like the ordinary citizen photographing a tree for a year).

The endings of goose roundups in NYC or elsewhere are not in fact a signal to "move on" to something else over the next year.  They are, on the contrary, a signal that something is wrong and we need to pay close attention and carefully record and document the still living and with us.

If we wanted to, for example, save trees, would that best be achieved by grieving or protesting trees that have already been cut down or showing what the trees were before the plans and actions taking them from this earth?

Acts already done have rationalization and excuse.

Acts contemplated require observance, discovery, thought, analysis and discussion.

The reason I believe we don't succeed in stopping goose roundups is because we are mostly "reactive" to acts already perpetrated and having excuse and justification. -- Justification and excuse that we were not part of in the planning.

In essence, the time to stop future goose roundups and slaughters begins the very day goose roundups of this year end.

Next year, we should ideally have 365 photos of those resident geese still surviving in our parks to show, "THIS is why these geese belong here. They are part of the natural environment."  

The reality is those geese slaughtered and those trees cut down for which there is no recorded documentation, never really existed.

One suspects no one will be cutting down "That Tree" on the edge of a southwestern Wisconsin corn field any time soon.

That only we could say the same for the geese.

"These geese" who live, and move in and out of our environments, but for whom we fail to document or even notice -- until the day they are rounded up and slaughtered.

And then it is too late to take their picture -- or even effectively protest their loss. -- PCA


Friday, July 26, 2013

Goose News Bites (Score some for the geese!)

Score some for the geese!
Some interesting goose news bites today:

Honk, honk!  Seeking Protection?  Look to the Geese!  (Or, ask any mallard.)

From National Geographic, there is this piece about what excellent "guard" animals geese make due to their superior vision, hearing and protection skills.  

I can personally attest to this:

When walking on the Central Park Reservoir,  thousands of people are walking and running beside me. But,  the geese can recognize, pick me out and come from more than a football field away. 

Geese possess incredible vision and recognition skills -- far greater than a dog.

It is no surprise that geese make excellent "guard" animals -- just ask any mama mallard!

"Be of Good Cheer"

In these days of mostly demonizing articles on geese, it is refreshing to occasionally stumble upon something that attempts to be informative and fair.

Such is the case with this column:

While one can question a few points, most of this article is accurate -- especially the part about geese bonding for life and usually not taking a new mate if one dies (as witness recent case with "Papa" goose who did not take on new mate when losing Mama this past year).

One suspects the writer did not wish to go into the entire sordid history of humans nearly hunting geese to extinction in the last century,  then artificially "restoring" population through captive breeding and release programs and finally killing geese en masse due to false claims of "overpopulation." But he does touch on some of this.

All in all, a positive, decent and informative piece on geese -- especially the ending:

"The next time county residents see the majesty of a migrating flock of Canada Geese in their familiar V-shaped pattern, remember how determined and devoted these birds are to the family unit. And be of good cheer, heartened that the cycle of life continues for another year."

Yes, the geese could certainly use a little more "good cheer" and kindliness from humans.

And yes, the cycle of life continues for another year -- providing USDA WS doesn't show up with their boats, crates and mobile gas chambers.

Van Courtlandt Park -- 2013 Poster Child for Goose Cruelty and Mismanagement. (Score this One for the Geese.)

Today on (27) GooseWatch NYC and (61) Call of the Canada Geese, one can find a photo taken at Van Courtlandt Park yesterday (July 25).

The photo shows several dozen Canada geese peacefully grazing.

But, it is only a couple of weeks ago, that USDA WS captured and sent to slaughter 27 geese from this same New York City (Bronx) park:

Had the 27 geese previously there been left alone, it is likely they would have chased off the several flocks of newly arrived geese as geese are territorial.

So, instead of fewer geese, Van Courtlandt Park now has more geese!

It has long been established that when you wipe out an otherwise established and adaptable species, new members of that species move in and take over the then available and empty space (assuming nothing is done to change habitat).

That is apparently what has occurred at Van Courtlandt Park.

Tax money down the drain and 27 geese needlessly slaughtered.

One can question why 27 geese were considered such a "problem" in a large park that they needed to be targeted for massacre?

One can question why 40 or 50 geese are better?

But, in the end, the questions are virtually meaningless after the fact.

Let us just name Van Courtlandt Park as the "2013 Poster Child for Goose Cruelty and Mismanagement."

For the moment, a few dozen geese are happy and certain park, USDA and NYC officials once again, have egg on their faces.

Score this one for the geese.  -- PCA


Thursday, July 25, 2013

Decision Made -- Cago Joins Goose Family and Leaves Four Bewildered Ducks

Cago -- a goose of decision.
Cochise, Carol,Connie and Conner. The four domestics now asking, "Where did that damn goose go?"
 Decision Made.

As expected, Cago (the loner Canada goose) has apparently decided to try and integrate himself into the new goose gaggle at Harlem Meer in Central Park.

Last night, the four domestic ducks were by themselves in the small protected area near the Dana Center.  All the mallards and geese there a few nights before had taken to water or skies.

There were about a dozen geese in the middle of the lake, and it is presumed Cago was among them.

Yes, the going will be rough for Cago these next few weeks as he carefully navigates his position around and into the new goose flock without being too presumptuous.  But, it is ultimately the best decision for him. Hopefully and presumably, the new goose family accepts him.

As for Cochise, Carol, Connie and Conner (the four domestic ducks) they seemed pleased that the other waterfowl had left -- if not a bit confused with the sudden quiet.   

"Hell, where did everyone go?  Sure it was a nuisance having a bunch of geese and ducks on our turf, but it seems a bit eerie now. We surely thought that solo goose would stay!  Ah, so much for loyalty!"

It was not possible to explain to the haughty ducks that ultimately, a goose is a goose and must eventually seek out his own kind. 

Still, it was nice that the four domestics held out the welcome mat for Cago these past few weeks while the orphaned or widowed goose went through the molt -- even if it was primarily in their own self interest to do so.

Hopefully, Cago was the appreciative gentleman and said, "Thank you for your hospitality" to the four quackers before heading out to join and take whatever knocks in store from the new goose flock. 

After all, geese and ducks never know when they might need each other again.  -- PCA


Wednesday, July 24, 2013

They (The Geese) Always Fly Together

Two of the remaining six geese at Jackie Onassis Reservoir in Central Park. Goose on right still molting and flightless. Her mate stays with her. Meanwhile, most of the Reservoir geese have moved to Harlem Meer, where hopefully, Cago is soon to join them.
 Yesterday, I wrote of the "crossroads" that a solo Canada goose was standing on at Harlem Meer and the choice he has to make between whether to stay with the ducks he has grown accustomed to over the past six weeks or attempt to be accepted by a new flock of Canada geese (despite the inherit challenges in the latter).

As of last night, "Cago" was again with the geese who made another temporary visit on the grassy lawn near the Dana Center where Cago stays with the ducks. 

But, that is not evidence to actual decision. The geese were ornery and there was a good deal of status assertion and pushing around. Cago was likely on the receiving end of some or even most of the "hen pecking."  But, that is something he will need to get used to if in fact, ultimately choosing to go with the geese -- which is presumed he will.

"Crossroads" and decision is not something obviously confined to a solitary Canada goose who must decide the direction of his life over the upcoming fall and winter.

Many of us who have staked out NYC parks over the past six weeks to insure our geese were not rounded up and killed by USDA also have decision in terms of the direction our activism should take us over the upcoming months.

Reality is, this is not the end of advocacy, but rather the beginning.

There are some in the cause who want to take political action and direction over ensuing months as there are important primaries and election for mayor and city council coming up.

I am not particularly enthusiastic about this for numerous reasons, not the least of which is that New York City politics has become a nationwide joke over the past few weeks and days.

Between proven liars, sexual predators, Bloomberg clones and candidates running for mayor who don't even register on the radar, the truth is, NYC voters don't have much, if any choice this fall.

Additionally, none of the people running for mayor has demonstrated any will do anything to protect geese and even if they did, there is little the Mayor or City Councilpeople can actually do to stop what has now become federal, state and city agency entrenched goose slaughters in New York City.

Most significantly, animal issues barely register in political discussion and are never brought up in televised political debates.

Before animals can become political issue, they first have to become a social issue. -- A subject bantered about near office water coolers and dinner tables. 

Animal issues have to grab the attention of media exposure and they have to generate lively public discussion and debate via comments, letters to the Editor and published Op Eds and Editorials.

Insofar as geese, the issue has in fact, generated increased media exposure as well as public discourse over the past few months.

Some articles and columns have been posted on this blog and even more are regularly posted on   

It is absolutely vital to stay constantly abreast of all relative information and articles pertaining to the issue as well as to share and respond with comments and letters to the Editor.   

This is in fact, one of the most significant means for making what is hidden and obscure into an actual social issue worthy of public attention and discussion and eventual political recognition and address.

One of the frustrating realities of posting articles to Facebook is that many people comment to Facebook, but not to the actual articles. 

Such commentary, though appreciated by FB administrators, does nothing to address directly the article or to put the issue into the public realm.   

To stress the importance of letters to the press, please note the following article from Washington State:

Towards the end it says:

"Friends of Lake Sammamish State Park board member David Kappler said he felt it was time to do something about the geese, whose feces left the park undesirable for visitors.  "I think it had to happen," he said. "The goose poop was everywhere. It made the park pretty unfriendly for families."

Issaquah resident Steve Balkman agreed with that sentiment, saying in a letter to The Press that local and state officials should control the geese not only in the park, but in the city, too."  (Emphasis supplied.)

And so it appears that 90 geese had to die in a Washington Park for the vitriol expressed against them in a "Letter to the Press" and also by a so-called "Friend of Lake Sammamish."

Well, we have to be the friends of the geese and our local parks.

I posted two comments to the above article (one in response to a post supporting the goose massacre).   Thankfully, two other goose advocates did as well.

But, we have to be far more proactive than this.

This issue is starting to hit the media now and we have to -- like the geese -- be constantly vigilant and promptly respond to threat and propaganda.

And like Cago, we have to seek out and blend with "our own kind" so to speak (like minded people across the country) despite any rough initiations. 

I frankly believe it is now time for a "Goosewatch, America." 

Humans, like geese, achieve a great deal more when working together and supporting each other when under the gun -- though appearances might sometimes contradict that.

Like humans, geese are not without their "differences of opinion" when determining strategies.

But in the end, they always fly together. -- PCA



Monday, July 22, 2013

Cago's Dilemma -- A Solo Canada Goose's Testy Choice

Cago -- A solitary Canada goose now faced with decision.
"I will think about this tomorrow, " Cago finally decides when joining his pals over past six weeks for what could be a final meal together.

That is the seeming dilemma facing Cago these days at Harlem Meer (Central Park). 

The solitary Canada goose who escaped to the Meer around the time USDA WS goose capture and slaughters began in New York City, has, for the past six weeks, been aligning himself with the ducks -- especially the four domestics who have made their home (since early spring), the fenced in, protected area near the Dana Center. 

But, now it appears that Cago has a choice to make.

Some days ago, 7 geese who had molted at the Reservoir, suddenly took flight and landed at Harlem Meer.

When the newly arrived geese temporarily joined the ducks and Cago in grazing some of the grass by the Dana Center, Cago kept respectable distance and the newcomers did not harass him.  In fact, it seemed they took little notice of Cago.

I thought at the time it was possible Cago might attempt to join the new flock, but usually such alliances take time.

Last night when I returned to the Meer, Cago was again in his familiar spot with the four domestics and a bunch of other mallards.   But, the new geese were not with them.

Perhaps because there was so much human and dog activity at the Meer last night (it was very warm), the 7 geese from the Reservoir, took to staying in the middle of the lake where they apparently felt safer.

But, Cago stood at the edge of the embankment and looked longingly over the water where the other geese were.  It seemed he was carefully contemplating the decision that was before him.

Should he stay or should he go?

For sure, Cago has formed peaceful and mutually beneficial alliance with the ducks over these past six weeks. And Cago has also found some sense of safety, now having become somewhat used to all the activities at the Meer.

But, he is not with his own kind.

On the other hand, if Cago decides to leave the ducks and try for acceptance into the new goose flock (or family), it could take weeks or even months before he is finally and fully accepted.

In the meantime, he would have to endure low status in the group and more or less stay respectfully around perimeters or towards back of the gaggle. That would mean last goose to eat and first to be picked on.

Not exactly a dignified position for a goose who less than two months ago, had his own mate or flock to fly with (Presumably killed by USDA).

Poor Cago has had to go through a grief and loss period over past six weeks, as well as the molt (flightless period) AND adapt to a totally new way of surviving -- with a bunch of ducks!

But, now having endured all that stress and survived, does Cago now want to endure the added stress of trying to make it into a new flock of geese?

Last night, he was at the edge of the water as if carefully considering and weighing the pros and cons of both choices.

I had the feeling that Cago really wanted to "go" with the new goose flock, but something, for the moment, was holding him back.

Cago stayed watching the water, even when I tossed a couple of handfuls of cracked corn to the ducks. 

But, then, after a few minutes, Cago turned and also partook of a few kernels.

Like Scarlet O'Hara, Cago seemed to finally decide, "I will think about this tomorrow."

My guess is, that if the new geese stay a while, Cago will eventually try to join them.

He is, after all, a goose.  -- PCA


Saturday, July 20, 2013

Goose Feathers Hitting the Fan and USDA's Feet to the Fire

Who would ever think a little guy like this would become object of controversy and upheaval?
Many significant events over the past few days.   For USDA WS, the feathers are hitting the fan.

Most groundbreaking is this Editorial from the NY Times this past Wednesday:  

While the Editorial does not focus on WS goose carnage around the country and there is some factual error in terms of animals USDA WS has actually killed (They kill five million animals a year, not the "2 million" over 12 years cited in the piece), it nevertheless holds USDA WS's feet to the fire in terms of question and criticism.

And from that standpoint alone, the Times Editorial is one of the best breakthroughs we could have hoped for.   This is, after all not a group of Animal Rights activists or HSUS or some small town newspaper demanding scrutiny and investigation of the USDA. It's the New York Times, one of the most prestigious newspapers in the country!

It is important that all who care about protection of geese and all other wildlife systematically and secretly massacred by USDA contact their Congressional Representatives demanding hearings, investigation and oversight of USDA WS, as well as to send a praising letter to the NY Times.  ( )

Also, highly significant this week, is this masterful Op Ed published in The New York Daily News and written by Jeffrey Kramer of  (27) GooseWatch NYC:

The Op Ed is excellent and like the Times Editorial, groundbreaking.  It hits so many of the salient points (especially, intellectual and philosophical).  Please take a moment to post grateful comment to the Daily News or write a letter:  

Since goose roundups occur all over the country, there are the very human aspects to emphasize, namely the emotional toll such clandestine carnage takes upon community residents -- including children and the elderly -- who love their geese.

There is also the aspect of federal government overstepping bounds and secretly "invading" public parks or college campuses for wildlife massacres. 

What do mothers tell their children, who after delighting in feeding and naming geese visit a park one day to find all of the waterfowl gone?  Should mothers lie to their children? Or do they say,  "Sorry, honey, the federal government came at dawn to round up and kill the geese."

And what about the college students such as those at Chattanooga State College in Tennessee who recently showed up for class one day to find all of the 100 geese who had been gracing campus grounds for years gone?  What kind of message was that to send to our nation's young people and future leaders?

That it is OK to capture and kill wildlife for human convenience?  That its OK to mislead and lie about such carnage (as the College President asserts he was mislead by USDA)?

This is a campaign not just for NYC "bleeding heart or intellectual liberals" so to speak. Nor is it a campaign necessarily of Animal Rights   Rather, it is a campaign for basic human decency and celebration of American values, among them, government transparency, independence, government "of the people, for the people and by the people" and finally respect for and protection of children, wildlife and the environment.

 Personally, I don't believe the goose and wildlife issue to be one of political or regional limitation.   It transcends religion, race, age, region or political affiliation. In the end it is all about human decency and government transparency.

The fact is, USDA expects New Yorkers to be "upset" with goose roundups.  What has to be of concern to WS now is the backlash they are getting in the south, the Predator Defense organization in the west and two Congressional Representatives (one a Republican, the other a Democrat) calling for hearings.

And then there is the NY Times Editorial and Kramer's exceptional Op Ed in the Daily News.

USDA may have killed another 1,000 geese in New York City this summer.

But, they might well have killed the geese who laid the golden eggs for them.

"Overkill," indeed.

The feathers have hit the fan now.  -- PCA


Friday, July 19, 2013

Of Wild Dogs, Geese and Heavenly Silver Linings

Papa goose -- In Memoriam
Three geese a swimming, Harlem Meer
Cago (front) making cautious acquaintance with three new geese. Harlem Meer.
Tales of a Wild Dog and a Wild Goose

National Geographic aired a truly fascinating documentary last night about "Solo," a wild dog who lost her pack and ultimately formed an alliance with Jackal parents and helped to raise their pups.
It reminded me of the many blog entries I have written over the years of the "strange alliances" that ducks and geese often form when losing their mates or flocks -- including several recent ones about "Cago," the loner Canada goose at Harlem Meer. 
Cago recently formed an alliance with the four domestic ducks at the Meer and also was relied upon by a mama mallard to watch her ducklings when she chased away mallards.
But, there is potentially good news for Cago now:  
A flock of three geese flew into Harlem Meer yesterday.  (Yes, some geese are already flying now!)  And though a bit wary and nervous at first whether the new geese would accept him, when I left, all four geese -- including Cago -- were grazing together.
But, it is not certain yet, whether the three new geese will stay long enough for Cago to be fully accepted into the gaggle.  Much remains to be seen.
"Tale of the Wild Dog" had a similar scenario when a pack of wild dogs wandered into the vicinity of Solo and her pack of Jackals.   But, since the dog pack was so large, Solo determined they might kill her and made no attempt to be accepted.   When the show ended, Solo was still with her family of Jackals.
It might work out that way for Cago, too.  He may have to stay with his duck friends a little longer -- especially if the new geese take off after only a day or two.   But, it is too soon to tell.
It seems easy to take with a grain of salt or evaluate as too anthropomorphic, my stories about individual geese and ducks and their relationships.  (Even I question these and my own observations sometimes.)
But, more and more, I see similar stories on Nat Geo which (at least to me), help to confirm personal observations and assessments.
Tale of the Wild Dog was particularly enlightening -- and somewhat validating.
Animals, whether geese, ducks or wild dogs are incredibly amazing in terms of smarts, anticipation and planning -- and the strange alliances they sometimes make for the sole purpose of survival and attachment.
Thank You, New York Times
The realization of some geese flying now and the possibility of a new goose family for Cago to join was not the only good news yesterday.
There was also this important Editorial from the New York Times:
Although USDA wildlife kill stats presented in the piece are grossly under reported  (USDA WS kills more than five million animals a year, not the "2 million" over 12 years cited in Editorial),  the heart of the New York Times is in the right place and needs to be commended.   One can write letters@nytimes to submit comment. 
For stat information regarding how many and which animals USDA WS killed in 2012, please refer to their own document:
It is critical to respond with comments or Letter to the Editor to articles and Editorials pertaining to geese and other wildlife in order to both, keep the issue alive in the press and also to correct inaccuracies (as well as in this case, thank!).
Two Geese Flying Upon Silver Linings
Special thanks for the kind words and sympathetic thoughts from Mary, Rebecca and another person in blog comment to news of the death of Papa goose.
It is said that one needs to seek the silver linings of dark clouds.
I am grateful Papa knew human kindness and mercy in the end and did not suffer a long time. His death, though needless and tragic, was not one of brutality, terror and slaughter at the bloody and merciless hands of USDA WS and their spineless accomplices. 
Up to the end, Papa was very much in charge of and respected by his flock and was always magnanimous and trusting towards humans -- something that probably cost Papa in the end. He, like his beloved Mama, will forever be missed. I pray there really is a heaven and that somehow Papa is again with the love of his life, Mama.
It was strange, but perhaps telling, that when found and rescued, Papa had walked down a small, winding pedestrian path that Mama sometimes walked upon last summer.
It seems Papa knew his time was near and with fading breath and strength, set upon the special path to search for Mama.  
If there be a God (and I believe there is), these two beautiful, soulful and devoted lovers are once again together. 
And they gloriously fly upon the silver linings of a bright, magnanimous and forever welcoming heaven.   --- PCA