Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Moving and Not Moving On -- The Geese Decide



Geese return to Harlem Meer for Memorial Day weekend. What's a party without the patriotic geese?
"Don't call me a Canada goose. I am an American!"
But, Bozi chose to stay and search.....
Bozi with a mallard yesterday at Reservoir.


 A sense of deja vu over the holiday weekend. Especially at Harlem Meer in Central Park.

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Along with the throngs of families turning out for picnics and Memorial Day fun, there were close to 20 geese who had suddenly shown up! -- Apparently, to be part of the celebration.
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So similar in fact, was the scene to past years, that rather than re-write it all over again under a different date, it is easier to simply post an entry link from Memorial Day, 2011 entitled,"They're Back!"   Virtually everything was exactly the same this year.
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I am speculating (by their sociability and comfort with people), it is the same flock of geese who periodically stop and stay briefly at the Meer -- as well as they apparently possess a calendar and mark off important human holidays -- especially the patriotic ones.
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How else could they possibly know that Memorial Day tends to vary a bit from year to year?
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And how could the geese know that along with people and picnics, comes treats and free handouts for them?  They indeed, must have fantastic memories.
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Whatever the mechanism for information and dates, the geese get it right every year.
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And it was so nice to see, once again, the wide smiles on children and adults either feeding geese or taking their photos.    
"Canada geese?" they question.   "Nah, these are our American geese and they show up for every patriotic holiday!"
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But, not all geese were on the move this holiday.
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John and Mary apparently decided over the weekend that things were too boring at the nearly goose-empty Reservoir and like other geese, presumably took off for holiday celebrations and (pre-molt) goose gatherings elsewhere.
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But, Bozi did not go with them.
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This is obviously disappointing as it briefly appeared that the recently widowed gander was being accepted as a "tag along" goose to the mated goose pair.
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Bozi could have gone with John and Mary, but for whatever reason, chose not to.
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Once again, this is appearing too eerily similar to the events surrounding the "loner" goose, Cago last summer at Harlem Meer.
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Though given scant opportunities to join with other geese, some loners choose not to and instead, remain in search and grief alone.
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Bozi still patrols the Reservoir each day, at times, calling out and other times, returning to the former nesting site of himself and his lost mate, Floozie.
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I sometimes wonder if Bozi actually realizes his partner is dead?
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Recalling back to a few weeks ago, Bozi had remained steadfastly close to the nest area when Floozie took ill and slowly drifted away on the water.
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The pair had nested on the east side of the Reservoir, but in death, Floozie's body had been pushed by currents to the far west side.
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I don't believe Bozi actually saw her then and might not fully realize now what happened.
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Does he think Floozie temporarily took off somewhere and will eventually return to him?
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Or, is Bozi simply still in grief and loss?
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Its impossible to say for sure.
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What is known is that a loner goose does not survive over the long haul.
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At some point, loners have to "move on" and make effort to at minimum, assimilate into another goose flock and hopefully one day, find another mate.
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But, to this point, Bozi is making no effort to seek out other geese and indeed, did not even leave with the two who had reservedly accepted his presence.
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Moreover, it is not known yet, if the flock of a dozen or so geese who had molted at the Reservoir over the past few years will return again this year.
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Hopefully, they do, but nothing is guaranteed.  If these geese do return, that has to happen within the next two weeks as most geese begin to lose their flight feathers in mid June.
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But, even if the geese return, will Bozi try to assimilate himself into their flock?
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I think that will only happen if and when Bozi finally realizes Floozie is never coming back.
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For now, he is steadfastly searching and waiting.
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All in all, interesting turns of events over the past few days as geese begin to gather and prepare for the upcoming flightless molting period (mid June to early July) while other geese are apparently not quite over their losses from winter or spring.
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Moving and not moving on.
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While exciting to witness the return of geese to Harlem Meer over this holiday weekend, I have to hope that some of them are the flock that yearly molts at the Reservoir and that the Meer was just a brief celebratory and stopover spot.
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Its a bit heart wrenching to see Bozi all alone each evening, seemingly lost and drifting on the water.
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And yet, no matter how far away or lost in memory and grief, Bozi always takes the time to come to me and say in his special goose way, "Don't worry. I am OK. I will know and choose, when and if it's time to move on."   --  PCA
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Monday, May 26, 2014

Of Geese, Horses, Rock Stars and Babies -- Best Moments in Life


Best moments in life?  Sometimes they are simply the sun coming out after a drenching rain.
And sometimes they are in observing new (and important) alliances being formed -- in this case, Bozi at top of rock with John and Mary nearby. 
And sometimes its seeing those who have experienced recent loss, return to their "old selves" again -- in this case, Napoleon and Josephine at Harlem Meer.
 Sometimes, we are asked the question, "What are the best moments of your life?"
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The moments, in some cases, can be quite ordinary and mundane. But, there is something magical, healing, surprising or particularly harmonizing about them that brings  special sense and awareness of bliss and happiness.
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I am blessed to having experienced many moments like that in life -- including one this past Friday.
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I went to Central Park around sunset. -- Something done thousands of times over the years and certainly not unusual.
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Friday was, however, immediately special because it is a holiday (Memorial Day Weekend) and  many New Yorkers are out of town.
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The park was surprisingly and pleasantly quiet and peaceful.
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Perhaps it was even more quiet because of the intermittent and lightly falling rain.
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Still, even nicer than the seeming disappearance of rushing crowds, was the discovery that Bozi (the now widowed gander at the Reservoir) was not quite so isolated and "alone" as first feared.
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Over the past few days, Bozi and John and Mary (the goose pair whose eggs had been oiled and failed to hatch at west side of Reservoir) have been peacefully sharing the same general space in the water.
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Though there has been some "honking" communications between the two ganders, they seem to have worked out any would-be territorial or hierarchy disputes and appear to respectfully accept each other's presence -- at least for now.
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Though not a "flock" in the sense that most people perceive that word, it seems that if choosing to tag along with and be "odd goose out" to the mated goose pair, Bozi will not be harshly rebuffed or run out of the water.  
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That is hopeful sign for this now loner goose.
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I was relieved in observing this new turn in events. But, it wasn't the only pleasant surprise of the day.
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Even greater surprise was going to Harlem Meer and discovering three new goose pairs (in addition to Napoleon and Josephine who, like John and Mary at Reservoir, also recently lost their eggs).
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Its not clear whether recent rain storms blew in the six new geese or they just ventured in on their own -- perhaps to celebrate the holiday weekend.  But it was a great joy to see them!
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Harlem Meer has seemed so lifeless and waterbird-empty in recent days. -- like a big swimming pool with nobody in it.  
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But, even nicer to see was Napoleon and Josephine appearing to be more themselves once again -- Napoleon giving gentle chase to the newcomers with his "cheerleading" mate spurring him on. 
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Though he would never admit it, I think Napoleon was happy to see other geese again. It gave him a "job" to do in terms of claiming territory and defending his lady while Ms. Josephine likes to establish herself as the uncontested Queen of Harlem Meer.
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For their part, the new geese generally respected the social hierarchy at the Meer and did not offer a whole lot of challenge to the dominant goose pair (though they did not turn tail and fly out either). 
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But, then came the true bliss moment for me.
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It came while sitting down and watching the geese peacefully work out their spaces on the water while at the same time, listening to the overture from "Carousel" on my M3P player.
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In that moment, there was this perfect synchronization between sound and vision, the music blending in perfect lilting and uplifting harmony with what was being seen and felt.
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It was an ordinary moment, but completely joyous in its connection to world around one in all its splendor and harmony.
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I was temporarily uplifted -- as if floating through clouds with music and beauty all around and gently enveloping.
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Other particularly blissful and special moments in life?
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Going to an upstate dude ranch many years ago with friends for horseback riding.
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It was a brisk and sunny day in April and I was in the presence of good, fun company.
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But, what made this day so "out of this world" special was a horse named, "Gypsy."
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I had never been riding before and didn't know the first thing about it.
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But, Gypsy knew what to do and apparently enjoyed doing it.
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Once we entered the woods, Gypsy joyfully broke into a canter and for what seemed time suspended, we (horse and rider) were quite literally flying through the forest.
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The experience was dream-like in the sense of flowing without body, blood or muscle through time, space and energy.  It was also this perfect connection -- almost as being one - with not just another life form, but also the forest, the air and indeed, the earth itself.
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If I had to guess what heaven must be like, this was surely it.    
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Finally returning back to the dude ranch, country music drifted through the air -- and even that was in perfect synchronization with everything else around.  A nice lunch, jokes and laughter with friends and it all added up to one of the three best days of my life.
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As for the other two?
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One was a bitterly, frigid day in February (1966) with snow falling and ice on the ground.
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My then boyfriend claimed to be ill at the last minute and could not take me to the Bob Dylan concert at the Nassau Coliseum in Long Island that I so looked forward to.
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Though he gave me the tickets, I had no one to go with.
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That is, until my 70-year-old grandmother offered to accompany me.
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The trip from Manhattan required several subway changes and a long bus ride in blizzard-like conditions.   There was so much ice on the ground and cutting, swirling winds and snow that even I at 19 years of age, had trouble navigating.
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But, my grandmother never complained. --  Quite the stoic trooper was she.
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We finally made it to the concert and my grandmother (who didn't know a thing about Dylan) sat through it with all the rapt attention of a Dylan devotee. 
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"That was nice!" she said at the concert's end, though I am quite sure she didn't understand any of Dylan's dark and cynical lyrics.
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It may seems strange to say that a brutal winter's night and the searing words of a Dylan concert would represent part of life's most "blissful" or happy moments, but nothing quite said love more than my grandmother's willing sacrifice to put herself out on one of the worst nights in NYC history soley for the happiness and pleasure of her grand daughter.
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My grandmother was a very remarkable woman. I was very blessed to have her in my life.
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But, of course the best moment (and day) of probably most parents lives is the day that life you have been carrying inside for nine months, finally decides to enter the world.
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So it was for me.
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My daughter, Tara apparently decided to arrive two weeks early -- or immediately following the New Year's celebration of 1975.  So early was she, I almost had her in the house, convinced I was experiencing "false labor." 
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Fortunately, the doctor ordered me to get to the hospital.
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I could say the joy was in being awake and aware through my daughter's delivery and/or pulling out my camera to take Tara's first photos.
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But, to be perfectly honest, the real pleasure finally came when being wheeled into the Recovery Room and demanding a cup of coffee!  
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"Please, please, get me some coffee!  I haven't had any in nine months!"
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(Morning sickness throughout pregnancy had caused violent illness when even attempting a sip of coffee.)
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And oh, the sheer joy of that first sip of coffee after nine month's deprivation!
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Yes, the very best day of my life -- in more ways than one. 
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And so it seems, the best days and moments of our lives are those in which one has suffered some type of loss, deprivation or disappointment before, only to be surprised by some sudden upturn in experience, connection and love. 
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And sure, while coffee cannot truly be comparable to "connection and love," it is one of life's little pleasures  -- like geese, horses and rock concerts -- that so many of us treasure and couldn't fully enjoy life without.  -- PCA
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Friday, May 23, 2014

Big Yellow Goose Taxi


Napoleon at Harlem Meer.  One of last remaining (15) resident Canada geese in Central Park. (But, not to fret as there are always zoos to see the animals we've tormented and wiped out in nature.)
If it has been dispiriting to witness goose harassment, deaths, Public Relations "spin" and egg destruction in Central Park over the past month, it is nothing compared to what is planned for geese in other locations throughout the country. 
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Even more maddening is to note the deliberate attempts (by city leaderships and media) to deceive, mislead and convince a naive public that a slaughter of the geese on lake front parks is not only inevitable, but desirable. -- An "act of charity" claim the two news pieces below:   (Never mind that even some hunters refer to goose meat as "dog food.")
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The first news video out of Minnesota resorts to using a photo from Ontario, Canada (showing tons of geese on a lake) to not-so-subtly imply that the twin cities are being "over-run" by geese.  (That would be like me using a photo of goose-empty Central Park lakes and ponds to make the case that geese are going extinct nationwide.)
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Both news pieces go on to claim that city leaderships "explored all options" before deciding on goose slaughters to occur next month.
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And yet, the presence of goslings in both news videos disputes that. It seems neither location conducted either egg addling or goose harassment with Border Collies. -- Methods that as used in Central Park over the past few years have reduced the resident Canada goose population to nearly zero.
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So what exactly does "exploring all options" mean?
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We don't know because the reporters fail to ask the obvious questions in the above videos.  But, the term itself means virtually nothing other than sitting around, wool gathering and day dreaming.
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Nevertheless, judging from the reader comments to both media pieces, the public once again is either buying the slop or wallowing in indifference.
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Sure, one can always find one or two people distressed about the upcoming goose carnage in any location. 
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But, the bottom line is that most people "go along to get along." -- Even those who otherwise portend to "care" about protecting wildlife and the geese.
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One thing for sure, out of all this:
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All the deception, "spin," character assassination, harassment, egg destruction and slaughter will eventually culminate in emptying all of our parks of Canada geese. 
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What will we say then?
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"I remember when we used to have tons of Canada geese here.  They'd waddle in the water with their goslings and the children used to delight in and feed them.  Then, all the geese went away.  I don't know what happened."
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I for one, will cringe when hearing that. For step by step and day by day, "what happened" has been detailed in this blog for some years now.
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But, not to fret.
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Because we will still be able to see Canada geese in a zoo.  -- That is, presuming we have the $30.00 or so in our pockets to pay each visit. 
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"Don't it always go to show, that we don't know what we've got 'till its gone?
You play a pair of dice and put up a parking lot."  (Big Yellow Taxi, by Joni Mitchell.)
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Yep, put the trees in a "tree museum" and send all the geese to slaughter.
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And I bet even 20 years from now, most of those "donated" goose carcasses will still be gathering ice in food pantry freezers.
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Even the hungry are usually not that desperate for "dog food." --  PCA
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Tuesday, May 20, 2014

Bozi -- An Uncertain Future for the Loner Goose of Central Park



Bozi -- Sad remembrance of Cago.


One of the matters of concern in the aftermath of goose harassment, death and egg destruction in Central Park are the prospects for Bozi, the gander who recently lost both, his potential offspring and his mate, Floozie.
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As flock birds who mate for life, long term survival chances for the "loner" goose who has neither flock nor mate are not good.
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Unfortunately, with so few geese in Central Park now and all those present already paired up, the future is appearing bleak for Bozi.  -- That is unless a couple of small goose flocks fly into and return to CP just prior to the molt, (as they did in previous few years).  In such case, it is hoped that with time, Bozi could slowly assimilate himself into one of the molting (i.e. grounded) goose families.
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But, even that is quite literally "up in the air" right now.
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One has to suppose that any goose flocks flying into Central Park for the molt will be hastily harassed out by Geese ("Get the Flock Out!") Police who still patrol CP every morning.
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And of course there will be still another round of USDA "Wildlife Services" goose slaughters occurring around New York City in late June and early July.  The WS vans have already been spotted around NYC as they do their "surveys" this time of year in preparation for the slaughter.
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I am thus not optimistic for Bozi. -- Anymore than I was for the long term survival of Cago, the loner female goose at Harlem Meer last summer.
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The few geese flying into the Meer then were quickly harassed out and in the end, Cago herself perished in the early fall, more likely due to a broken heart and lonliness as much as anything physical.
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Although my friend  and I were able to rescue Cago in her last and rapidly declining days, rescue came too late and she later died at the Wild Bird Fund.
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I don't know quite frankly, that any medicine or treatment could have saved a goose who, over the previous four months had lost her mate, her family and any and all chances of trying to make it into another goose alliance. The one time Cago appeared to take under her wing, two young geese who ventured into the Meer in late summer, they were quickly harassed out after only a few days.
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Following that, Cago rapidly went downhill as she was again, utterly alone and dealing with still another loss.  
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Strength and resolve seemingly drained from the "loner goose" who, with the departure of  two young proteges had appeared to also lose her last and only hope. Cago's immune system then crumbled, leaving her susceptible to whatever opportunistic disease was there to descend.  Since a necropsie was never conducted, to this day we don't know what actually killed Cago -- anymore than we can know with either Camille or Floozie's recent deaths.   Central Park and New York City appear to take the attitude that, "The only good goose is a dead goose and we don't want to know why."
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I now wonder if it will be the same type of sad scenario for Bozi?  Its impossible to predict, but so far, all the signposts are the same as they were for Cago.
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Harassment is the same.  The killing program is the same. And goose numbers are even lower in Central Park than they were last year at this time (15).
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So, no it is not looking good for Bozi who currently now shares the Reservoir with two mated goose pairs -- he being careful to stay out of their way and spaces.
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I do see Bozi most evenings. When recognizing me, he usually comes in familiar and commiserate greeting.
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Usually Bozi is wandering alone along the east side of the Reservoir (where he and Floozie attempted to nest) and sometime he is at the north side of the watercourse -- a neutral space from the two mated and territorial goose pairs.
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And sometimes Bozi is simply out in the middle of the water, drifting, searching and calling out. (He doesn't come to me those times.)
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That is when my heart sinks for Bozo. -- Especially in thinking about his future.  
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I have to hope this is not deja vu all over again -- but regrettably believe that it is.  -- PCA 
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Sunday, May 18, 2014

Central Park Conservancy's Official Response to Reservoir Goose Deaths



"Floozie" photographed when ailing on Reservoir, shortly before her death. Despite call for rescue help, none came.
Floozie, dead the following day, her body then scavenged by turtles.
"Bozie," the surviving gander of Floozie. More than a week after death of his mate and loss of their eggs, Bozie forlornly searches the waters of the Reservoir every day and night, constantly calling out.
In a recent letter to a concerned individual, a Central Park Conservancy official suggested that the deaths of two nesting geese at the Jackie Onassis Reservoir over the past month were attributable to "possible attack" by a snapping turtle.  (Full letter at end of this entry with personal names deleted.)
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This speculation is highly suspect, as both geese showed signs of obvious illness and/or distress when abandoning their nests and appearing listless and weak in the water. While state of debilitation can invite attack by predator, such was a highly improbable cause of the actual deaths.  Rather, possible attack by a snapping turtle would have hastened and/or painfully contributed to the goose deaths.
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Urban Park Rangers and Central Park Conservancy were made aware of the second goose's distress when I called to notify them of her abandoning the nest and appearing gravely ill in the water. (She was not being attacked by turtles at the time.)  I predicted that the goose would be "dead within two days" and begged for rescue aid.  But I was cooly told by park ranger that they had "no access" to the Reservoir.  (Park Rangers do not have boats to rescue any birds on water, regardless of what watercourses the birds are on in Central or other parks.)
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Despite these facts, the letter goes on to "reassure" the recipient that the Conservancy "works closely with the Urban Park Rangers and various wildlife rehabilitators to make sure that wildlife in distress are rescued and receive necessary medical attention."
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Nothing could be further from the truth.
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As detailed in this blog over the years, I and other pedestrians have had to rescue distressed and injured water birds time and again with little or no help from rangers. This is not only true of Central Park, but other parks as well.
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Other times, we have watched birds die on the water as even we could not get to them without boats.
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But, the above are not the only statements in the otherwise short letter that raise serious question and doubt.
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The letter also expresses "sadness" over the "demise" of the two geese. This, despite the fact, both resident and migratory Canada geese have been relentlessly harassed by Geese ("Get the Flock Out!") Police throughout this and others years and their eggs destroyed. 
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So much have these actions been practiced, that the present count of resident Canada geese in all of Central Park is now down to an anemic 15.  
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In its closing lines, the letter asserts: "Staff at the Conservancy treasure the wildlife in the Park, and we respond promptly to calls regarding injured or sick mammals, reptiles, birds, and amphibians."
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"Treasure" is a strange word to use towards wildlife that the Conservancy has consistently chosen to display an attitude of both, disdain and indifference.
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Ultimately however, what disturbs most about Central Park Conservancy's official response to the recent goose deaths at the Reservoir is to once again, attempt attributable blame to and "scapegoat" another wildlife species -- in this case, snapping turtles. This despite the fact, time sequenced observations do not support this speculation in the least.
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The fact is, the Conservancy does not know and apparently doesn't wish to find out what caused the deaths of the two nesting geese within two weeks of each other at the Reservoir. (Both bodies were retrieved in sufficient time for necropsies despite the denial in the letter.  Quick retrieval was likely due to observers' complaints.)
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Had the geese died from some type of infectious or zoonotic disease, such could be disastrous for other wildlife or potentially even humans in Central Park.
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However, since other water birds at the Reservoir, to this point appear to be healthy, one has to suspect some medical interruption in the nesting process and/or over-tampering with eggs that negatively impacted the nesting hens as both geese died within ten days of laying eggs.
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By once again attempting inaccurate culpability to other wildlife for bird deaths and egg losses, (rather than owning up to their own harassment, egg tampering and rescue inadequacies), the leadership of Central Park (and other NYC parks) thus absolve themselves entirely from any and all responsibility and continue to pacify and greatly mislead the public -- the same public they seek donations and other support from.  
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(Actual Conservancy response below.) -- PCA
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Dear Ms. ............:

Your letter regarding the goose at the Jacqueline Onassis Reservoir was forwarded to me by....

We too are saddened by the demise of this goose, and we want to reassure you that we work closely with the Urban Park Rangers and various wildlife rehabilitators to make sure that wildlife in distress are rescued and receive necessary medical attention. 

We had been keeping an eye on the geese in the Reservoir and all looked well until one was found to have died, and then another one died a few days thereafter. We do not know the causes of death, but because the condition of the carcasses was identical, we are suspecting that a large snapping turtle may have attacked both of them.  

To rule out any sort of disease, we consulted with the Urban Park Rangers about the possibility of necropsies, but the condition of the carcasses, both of which were removed as quickly as possible,  was inadequate for testing.  

Staff at the Conservancy treasure the wildlife in the Park, and we respond promptly to calls regarding injured or sick mammals, reptiles, birds, and amphibians.

Please feel free to contract me with any further concerns or questions.
Sincerely,

...................
Central Park Conservancy
14 E. 60th St.
New York, NY 10022
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Friday, May 16, 2014

All Central Park Geese Touched by Death


Mary, depressed and standing few feet away from failed nesting site the other night.
John and Mary last night on rocks together, few feet away from nest.
What appeared to be egg floating on top of water at Reservoir..
Napoleon and Josephine at Harlem Meer after unvilable eggs failed to hatch. Note garbage in water....newspaper and plastic toy.
Napoleon and Josie --They console each other in loss.
The lucky Canada geese this spring in Central Park were the Boat Lake pair whose nest and eggs were flooded in the severe rain storm a few weeks ago. The hen didn't spend a month on her nest and the geese knew why their eggs were lost.
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Not so "lucky" for the Reservoir nesting geese and Napoleon and Josephine at Harlem Meer.
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Two nesting hens recently and suddenly died at the Jackie Onassis Reservoir one week after laying their eggs. (There are suspicions about this, but to be addressed in a future entry.)
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One of the surviving ganders, "Brad" was fortunate to find a loner female goose (Gabrielle") several days later and take the thin, smallish waif under his wing.  The two geese have since departed the otherwise morbid Reservoir together.  
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The other surviving gander, "Bozie" still swims the east side of  Reservoir today as a "loner" goose seemingly still searching his lost mate, Floozie.  For two days, Bozi held a seeming vigil at his and Floozie's former nesting site and still returns there from time to time.
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John and Mary, the nesting goose pair from the west side of Reservoir did everything right this spring in terms of preparation, patience and guarding for nesting.  Eggs were due to hatch this week.
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Instead, I found Mary the other night standing about ten feet from her nest with no sign of the eggs inside.  Her head was turned on her back and she appeared visibly depressed.  John was a few feet away in the water seemingly giving his lady some alone time.
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Since the nest was covered in soft down, I tried to rationalize that perhaps Mary had covered her eggs and was simply taking a break.  But, a part of me knew better.
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Last night, I returned to find Mary and John together on rocks, a short distance away from what was their nest.  No sign of the four eggs that had been there only two days before.
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But, what appeared to be a white egg was visible floating on top of the water.
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It is theorized that since goslings "communicate" with their mothers with tiny peeps shortly before hatching (and the moms with them), there was no sign of life in these eggs and Mary was reluctantly forced to abandon them. 
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John and Mary have, after all, been through this experience before. Last year around the same time and same place.
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Their eggs had apparently been oiled in both years rendering them unviable.
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But, unlike the goose pair at the Boat Lake losing their eggs to a storm, John and Mary had no idea why their eggs failed to hatch two years in a row.  They appeared to be pondering those thoughts last night together, while at the same time, holding a type of "vigil" just a few feet from the failed and then flattened nest, all the eggs then gone.
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As Napoleon and Josephine (from Harlem Meer) had laid eggs around the same time as John and Mary, it was imperative to return to the Meer in order to check on them.
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But, I did not have a "good feeling' walking to the Meer after observing what had once again happened to John and Mary at the Reservoir.  It was more than likely that Napoleon and Josie's eggs had also been addled and destroyed.  But, this was something that needed to be confirmed. 
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Sure enough, when arriving to the Meer, Napoleon was not at his usual "guarding" post just a few feet in the water from the small island where Josie had been safely nesting.
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That meant only one of two things:  Either the eggs hatched and the two geese were somewhere on the lake with their little ones.
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Or, it meant that the eggs failed to hatch (as in the previous year) and both, Napoleon and Josie were forced to once again, abandon the failed nest -- along with all hope of raising young this year -- or perhaps ever. 
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It doesn't require a Mensa IQ to figure which of those two scenarios I believed.
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I did not have to walk far to find Napoleon and Josephine.
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But, what shocked was their utter stillness on the water -- like statues.
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The two geese faced each other, with no movement at all, as if in a kind of silent prayer vigil or mutual commiseration.
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I had never seen Napoleon and Josie like that before; animation and energy always being the hallmark of these two very "dominant" geese.
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Somehow, perhaps out of the corner of their eyes, the geese eventually saw me standing and commiserating with them from the shore.
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And slowly -- either to share sorrow or attempt to greet and comfort, Napoleon and Josie swam over to me.
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Though I tossed a few small offerings of cracked corn to them, it wasn't food the geese had come for --  though they obliged by eating a few kernels. (Food is plentiful these days for the birds with new grass and abundance of fresh water plants.)
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Rather, it was to seemingly assure me that though they were in mourning now, Napoleon and Josephine would (as the troopers they are), get through it and eventually move on.
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And yes, I expect as sorrow and loss move to resolve and preparation for the summer molt, Napoleon and Josephine will move on from Harlem Meer in about a week's time (as they did last year).
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There is nothing for these two geese at the Meer now. The constant fishing occurring all around the lake and virtually every day of the spring and summer can do nothing but add to their stresses.  Add to that, the constant harassment of Geese Police and a variety of off-leash dogs and the Meer is an inhospitable place for waterfowl of all types.  
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There are virtually no water birds at Harlem Meer these days with the exception of a hand full of apparently very brazen mallards.
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So stressful a place is the Meer for water birds in spring and summer, that the four domestic (flightless) ducks there last year, virtually spent the entire time "marooned" on the small grassy (and fenced in, safe) area by the Dana Center.
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But, such would not be an option for geese.
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Napoleon and Josephine will shortly have to depart and that will leave Harlem Meer (as last year at same time) with no geese at all.
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And it will leave me with no reason to go to the Meer, as we rescued the four domestic ducks shortly before winter set in last year, icing over the entire lake. (Ideally, we should have rescued and placed the flightless "fab four" last spring and thus spared them the misery of spending four months hiding in a corner near the Dana Center.) 
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Walking home from the Meer last night, I thought about all the lies, misinformation and attempts to avoid any transparency or responsibility regarding destructive, "zero tolerance"  policies towards Canada geese (and other wildlife) by Central Park officials and spokespersons. (More about that in a later entry.)
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And I thought about the roughly 15 geese still surviving in this 838 acre "jewel" park.
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It occurred to me that all 15 geese have been touched by death, one way or another this spring, most of it at the hands of human tormentors.
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It is claimed by bible thumpers and others that humans are made "in the image of God."
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If that be the case, it is not a "God" I want to know as I feel little apart from shame for my own species.  -- PCA
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Sunday, May 11, 2014

Mother's Day -- But, Not for Central Park Geese


Mary, last May, confused and perplexed with empty, unviable eggs at Reservoir in Central Park.
She stayed with broken eggs for two days.
Mary and her mate, John seeming to grieve together over lost eggs. This year they are nesting again in same place. Hope springs eternal.
It is a lovely, sunny Mother's Day in New York City.
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Later, I look forward to hearing from my daughter.  We will discuss weather, singing contestants on The Voice and possibility of she and her husband buying a home this year.
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But, it is not a cheerful day -- especially in light of the mysterious deaths of two nesting goose hens (and loss of their eggs) in Central Park over past two weeks.
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I do not anticipate new goslings in Central Park this year despite the three currently nesting goose hens there.  Rather, it is expected that like last year, all goose eggs will be addled (oiled) and fail to hatch.  Would-be goose parents will be left to wonder and grieve over their tattered egg remains and hold what appear to be, small funerals.  But few, if any humans will notice, much less care.
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For nearly a month, I have repeatedly asked Central Park Conservancy officials if eggs are being oiled this year and if so, why, considering there are less than 15 geese in the entire 838 acre park? 
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But, directness and honesty have not been forthcoming as have been, stonewalling and unkept promises to "discuss."
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It doesn't require a brain surgeon to surmise CP spokespersons don't want to divulge news they anticipate the recipient doesn't want to hear.
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Communications with "Sunny," the Urban Park Ranger the other day were equally frustrating when begging aid to rescue the dying goose, Floozie at the Jackie Onassis Reservoir.
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Sunny's claim of "no access" to Reservoir is dubious considering that landscapers cut down most of the trees last year growing through rocks at the Reservoir, as well as goose eggs were apparently oiled on those same rocks. 
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Obviously, some people have access, but not for rescue of injured or dying birds.  
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Sunny (like her name) attempted to be upbeat and positive in the conversation, if not entirely honest.
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When questioned why Geese Police has boats to harass geese on the water, but park rangers don't have boats for rescue of distressed and suffering water birds, Sunny's cheerful reply was, "But, Geese Police has not had to use the boats at all this year!"
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One has to suspect that even those who hate geese might question money spent and use of boat to chase and harass two geese on a huge lake.
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Although Geese Police patrols Central Park everyday with their vans, boats and dogs, the truth is there is virtually nothing for them to actually "do" with so few geese in the park.
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More than once, the guys from Geese Police have stood beside their vans, enjoyed the scenery while drinking coffee.  -- An easy living, one might guess.
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But, this is not to deride or mock Geese Police as there are places where their goose harassment and egg destruction services might be warranted and actually help to stave off a potential USDA WS roundup and slaughter of geese.
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Rather, it is to say the services of Geese Police could be put to better and more appropriate use in Central Park. -- Especially, their presumed expertise with boats and ownership of them.
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For example:
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Although some might believe that regular police mainly arrest people and write out tickets, the truth is that more often than not, cops are called in to aid people in some way such as defusing disputes, maintaining control at large public events or even on occasion, delivering babies.
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So why couldn't the services of Geese Police also be used in positive manner -- such as to occasionally aid in rescue of injured or sick bird on water?
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Why pay these guys to stand around and drink coffee while at the same time, telling people who call for rescue help that you have "no access" or "means" to retrieve a dying bird on water?
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These were questions also posed to Central Park Conservancy, which, like all others, have been completely dismissed and gone unanswered.
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Last week, while monitoring the nesting goose at west side of the Reservoir (Mary) I met a fellow goose lover.
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"Nita" told me she treasured the geese in Central Park and was extremely distressed with all the harassment and egg destruction perpetrated against them for what is now, years.
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"Have you called or written the Conservancy about these grievances?" I asked.
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"No, what's the use?" Nita answered.  "They don't care.  What I have done is stopped donating.  When they send solicitations for money, I write a note on the pamphlet and send it back."
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"Well, its good that you do that." I replied -- though fully realizing such "note" would only be read by a receptionist or other low level staffer and tossed into the trash.
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But, a week later, I am now thinking Nita was right. 
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Despite "spinning wheels" for a long time trying to respectfully discuss issues with park officials and asking questions, I am no further along than Nita's scribbled note ending up in the garbage.
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But, at least Nita didn't waste the time I did and she didn't waste hope.
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I am completely sad and frustrated. I dread the soon arriving day of seeing would-be goose parents mourning over their unviable and tattered eggs once again.
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 "Motherhood" for them, never to be in Central Park.  -- PCA
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