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
.
                                                             
                                **********
  
  

No comments: