Sunday, October 18, 2015

"Making Room for Migratory Geese" -- Through Unrelenting Harassment


Migratory Canada geese gathered along the Central Park Reservoir this morning just prior to take-off.
Taking off on the rest of their long and taxing migration.
"Get the Flock Out!" Geese Police again patrolling Central Park to immediately chase out any migratory geese who stop to rest or graze at any of the park's lakes, ponds or lawns.
 
"We harass resident geese to make room for the migratory geese."
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The above was told to me several years ago by a spokesperson for the Central Park Conservancy, when questioned why Canada geese were being harassed and chased from Harlem Meer.
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Even at the time, I knew this statement to be completely lacking in credibility.
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Resident geese and migratory geese do not follow the same behavioral patterns nor do they typically "loaf" in the same locations nor mix together.
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But, if we needed proof that the statement was blatantly false, it can be noted in the fact that, ("Get the Flock Out") Geese Police is once again, patrolling Central Park -- at a time when virtually all the geese passing through one of the world's most prestigious parks are in fact, migratory.  
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Geese Police has been observed over the past week, patrolling the lawns, lakes and ponds of Central Park, as well as chasing geese from the Boat Lake through the use of kayaks and a Border Collie. (The Boat Lake is one of the few areas in Central Park to actually have any geese to chase.)
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But, despite the lunacy and needless cruelty, there is still some good news to report:
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1-- Virtually all the migratory geese pass through and briefly rest at the Central Park Reservoir -- the one watercourse, Geese Police does not have access to.
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2-- The 16 geese currently at the Boat Lake are led by two ganders ("Man" and Warrior") who are well accustomed to Geese Police and are not easily intimidated.
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Bad news of course is that any migratory geese who briefly land or perhaps attempt to feed in places other than the Reservoir, will be subjected to harassment.  
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Considering that migratory geese fly thousands of miles on treacherous journeys from the far north regions of Canada and the sub Arctic to points south in the United States, rest and feed stops along the way are extremely important to them. Any disruptions or molestations to that, can potentially and negatively impact the rest of the migration.
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Put simply, migrations are extremely taxing on all birds in terms of stress, dangers and physical endurance even under the best circumstances. If they cannot stop to replenish both energy and nourishment, some could ultimately be doomed.
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In the past, I have observed migratory geese briefly stopping to graze and/or rest at the North Meadow in Central Park, as well as the Great Lawn and Harlem Meer . But, in recent years, little of such has been observed, most likely due the aggressive, anti-wildlife policies of the Central Park Conservancy, of which Geese Police represents only one.
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I specifically recall a gaggle of four migratory geese who had briefly stopped at Harlem Meer one morning a couple of years ago -- only to be immediately harassed out by Geese Police. Of course I complained to the Central Park Conservancy, but obviously to no avail. They know who I am and routinely dismiss my calls or letters. ("Crazy old goose lady," no doubt.)
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It is a personal frustration that I am apparently the only person bothered enough by these damaging and unnecessary actions to actually protest them. I know other people are dismayed, but evidently not enough to make a simple call or write a note.  
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It is impossible to count the number of conversations I have personally had with other park goers over the past few years in which they expressed distress with the "disappearing" and low numbers of waterfowl in Central Park or even having personally witnessed Geese Police in action. But, I can't recall even one (other than my friend, Liliana) who actually took the time to make their thoughts known to the Central Park Conservancy.
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Evidently, wildlife lovers are not as vocal as those whose wishes are to turn Central Park into an enormous, outdoor gym -- which is pretty much what it is now.  (Indeed, the only things missing are treadmills and exercise machines, but I trust they will be installed any year now.)
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All of this is particularly disturbing in light of species vanishing from the planet in what is recently referred to as the, "Sixth Greatest Mass Extinction" and massive numbers of sea birds currently dying on the west coast from California to Alaska. http://tribelive.ning.com/forum/mind-blowing-die-off-of-seabirds-underway-from-california-to-alas?fb_action_ids=10153814628233394&fb_action_types=og.likes
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With all of this in mind, I am making special effort to get to the Reservoir as often as I can during the fall migrations to catch the migratory geese either coming into (usually at night) or leaving the Reservoir with the rising sun.
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It is a thrill beyond words to see and hear this magnificent undertaking twice a year.
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But should the migratory geese eventually "disappear" from Central Park as so much other wildlife has over the years, let us consider, it was death by a thousand cuts of which uncontested and unrelenting goose harassment was but a small part.
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The greatest death knells were silence and indifference.  -- PCA
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