Conflicts Between Geese and People: The Issues
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In recent years, there has been an increase in media reports about conflicts between people and Canada geese. Without exception, the tone of these articles is decidedly biased against geese, and the reports usually presuppose that such attitudes are widely held and that the reasons are self-evident.
Complaints about geese can be reduced to concerns about the droppings they deposit where they congregate, and to a lesser extent, the presence of feathers during their annual molt. Although much has been said to make the issue of suburban geese into a serious "problem", most concerns beyond simple aesthetics and minor inconveniences are not legitimate (see below).
In a growing number of situations, programs have been planned or are underway to kill Canada geese on a regular basis. The government wildlife management establishment (the US Fish and Wildlife Service, state "game" agencies, and seemingly-benign representatives from local cooperative extensions) each play their part in advancing the various stages which make these atrocities a reality. These stages include; convincing a municipality that killing via depredation permit (or hunting) is the only solution, approval of the permit, and public sentiment manipulation by carefully planned media manuevers.
Local politicians are easy prey to these agencies, which offer only superficial guidance on the use of non-lethal methods of goose dissuasion. When poorly-chosen and sloppily implemented non-lethal methods fail, politicians are convinced that killing is the only answer.
As will be elaborated shortly, government wildlife managers go to great lengths to spread their archaic killing-centered philosophy on how wildlife controversies should be handled. Communities that eventually succumb to goose extermination programs do so after being thoroughly soaked with disinformation, often from ostensibly respectable local figures.
With little or no supporting evidence, geese are accused of posing a health threat, compromising water quality, damaging crops, and overpopulating areas where they live. Those who actively perpetuate such ideas - mayors, health department officials, sportsmen's clubs, park rangers, etc. - when challenged, find themselves unable to support their claims with sound scientific information. Whether by ignorance or premeditated deciet, the misinformation they dispense can usually be traced to the government wildlife-killing establishment and their beneficiaries ("sport" hunters, weapon manufacturers, etc.).
The following sections serve to shed some light on the more common issues and corresponding misconceptions used to justify the killing of geese. Other topics will be added in due course.