Canada Goose Hall of Shame

1. Mondovi, WI. Residents have started both a Facebook page and petition to try to convince city officials not to carry out a roundup of a small population of geese this month.

“There is no reason to kill them,” says Brenda Gruber, president of the local Humane Society, who says there are no geese there in winter when the lake is frozen. “They come here to molt.” She says she is dismayed by the refusal of officials to listen to reason. Officials did not return phone calls or emails.

She is urging citizens to come forward and agree to help clean up after the geese during this temporary ordeal. Jamaica Bay Wildlife Refuge (New York City). Wildlife Services has been rounding up geese for several years at a federal wildlife preserve (near JFK Airport) under the guise of air safety. How does rounding up 351 Canada geese essentially turning it into a death camp make the skies safer when the preserve attracts millions of migrating and other birds? The logic makes no sense.

“Geese were at Jamaica Bay as long as I can remember, and the planes and geese were never an issue,” recalls long time New Yorker Van Scott of Brooklyn. “Birds will always pass through here and they cannot all be killed. The feds used the airplane threat as a cover to kill the geese.”

David Karopkin, who started GooseWatch NYC, a wildlife advocacy group, recalled the pain of witnessing one of the roundups.

“I watched the geese thump against the crates struggling to get out “I am heartbroken and angry.”

No one disputes that birds pose a threat to air safety but the current industry trend is toward long term, non lethal strategies to reduce bird strikes, not short term killing. Aviation specialists emphasize that repeated killing merely opens the habitat to other geese.

“Even if it were legal, killing off all birds at an airport will not solve the problem,” says The National Bird Strike Prevention Committee. “An airport is an integral part of local ecosystems and each plant or animal species plays an important role. A combination of bird control measures which includes habitat management to reduce the attractions of food, water and shelter, is a superior long term solution.”

3. Several years ago, city geese were euthanized without residents’ knowledge. Residents were in shock, flooding the parks department and a local newspaper office with angry emails and phone calls. “We loved those geese,” says Rebecca Duffeck, who wrote a newspaper editorial lamenting the roundup. There have been no further roundups but geese are not allowed in the parks.

4. Brookville Park. The USDA trucks pulled up at dawn. There were about 50 sleeping geese at Brookville Park in Queens when Wildlife Services agents began rounding them up. Jeffrey Kramer of Queens, who had been patrolling the park for GooseWatch NYC, a wildlife advocacy group, was surprised to see the agents. There hadn’t been any roundups here for a few years. Kramer says he began videotaping the roundup, disturbed, he says, by the agents’ laughter as they captured the terrified geese.

“At this time of year geese are defenseless,” he says. “Adults aremolting and the babies are unable to fly.”

Weeks later, he says, new geese arrived, illustrating the futility of the massacre.

5. Montgomery County Parks, Maryland. Several hundred geese were rounded up and gassed last summer but new geese will be left to molt in peace this summer, says Melissa Chotiner, media relations specialist.

“There are fewer geese,,” she adds. “And we’re trying humane methods (of managing them).”

6. Oconto Falls, WI. There was a controversial roundup last summer of about 200 geese. City administrator Vicki Roberts was not available for comment on whether there would be another roundup in June or July. Residents opposed to the roundup flooded city hall with calls and emails asking officials to reconsider.

7. Youngstown, Ohio. Residents wanted to know why a public hearing wasn’t held before geese were put into crates and gassed at Mill Creek MetroParks two years ago. These roundups remain controversial.

8. Among the missing is a hybrid Canada goose known as Whiteface. We never saw him again. He was a gorgeous gander and traveled with siblings; full blooded Canada geese. They caused no one harm and were popular with residents. The group often headed north for the winter. Also among the missing were two geese families whose behaviors I was studying. The parents were related. I don’t know if the dads were brothers or it was a brother sister combination among the parents but they were a formidable group because of their size, about 17 total. Public officials did not respond to questions so I filed a Freedom of Information request to find out the particulars. The feds inked out names of people who asked for the removal but the Hoover Parks and Recreation Department was listed as the originator. The geese were relocated, however; not killed, a rarity. To its credit, the city has not rounded up since.

9. Oconomowoc, WI. Unfortunately, city administrators allowed Wildlife Services to round up geese last week without telling anyone and in the midst of widespread controversy.

“Please personally send officials a message letting them know how outraged we are,” says Katherine Prange of Oak Creek, who organized a massive effort to save the geese. “The fight is not over.”

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