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Canada Geese: Honk If You Want to Stop the Hunting
by Lisa Selvaggio
Thereís something about seeing the Canada Geese in NJ break off into pairs when Spring begins its slow approach. Those that once roamed in flocks split apart into their lifelong monogamous relationships in search of food and a place for their nests. They protect each other and find a suitable location to build a haven for their future hatchlings. Once a home is established, youíll often find one warming the eggs while the other dutifully protects the territory or simply watches over its mate. And when you see a lone goose flying overhead or eating solitarily, you canít help but wonder what happened to his mate. Perhaps she was hit by a car or shot by a hunter or caught by some predator. But for those lucky enough to get past the inherent dangers of being a goose in NJ, and in America, the possibility of a family is still very real. And once those chicks are born, they are guarded and nurtured with the love and attention of any good parent.
Humans nearly hunted these birds to extinction and by the 1960s, groups were working toward getting their numbers up again. But now it seems the attitude has once again shifted against the birds, whose eggs are often sought out by individuals who, after determining how far along they are in the incubation process, kill the embryos through various methods, including suffocating them using oil that is applied to the eggs, shaking, or burying the eggs. This all excludes the legalized and promoted hunting of adult geese.
Many reasons are set forth for the extermination of geese, including the Canada Geese. Although there is no scientific evidence that points towards goose droppings being a threat to our health, those advocating for the killing of geese will often scare the public into believing this. True threats to human health from animal droppings come from factory farms, which keep thousands of animals enslaved in unsanitary conditions, in their waste, before they are slaughtered. The waste products of these animals end up polluting water and land more than any goose or bird droppings ever could, yet no one really talks about it. Itís much more important for the average American to maintain his way of life, which includes a steak at the dinner table, than to acknowledge the fact that his way of life is what is truly harmful to everyone, not just the animal on his plate.
Another argument set forth is in regards to geese crowding parks and areas where children play, and that the geese can sometimes attack people, especially if they are guarding a nest or youngsters. While their droppings may be annoying, as long as one respects the space of the animal, itís unlikely to attack, but whatís more important is the fact that, yet again, humanity thinks itself more worthy to be on this land than any other creature. So people rip out trees from their trunks, dry up lakes, and build their over-priced housing complexes, especially here in the ďgarden state.Ē Mini-mall after mini-mall replaces plots of open space where these birds, as other wildlife, would be able to go, out of the way of humans, to live their natural lives. Wild animals typically hate having to deal with people. Raccoons and squirrels would much prefer a tree to call home than oneís attic, much the same way geese would prefer open grasslands with nearby bodies of water to raise their young. But since our homes and shopping centers--which feed into this system of greed and materialism--are in the way, the animals make the best of it. Sparrows make nests in electrical boxes on cable lines, groundhogs dig their way into peopleís yards, and geese build their nests in the mulch next to an office building.
Humans like to think that they can determine the proper number of individuals in any given species, despite the fact that our population is growing exponentially and our increasing numbers strangle the planet. Nor do humans stop and consider why there may be so many more animals of certain kinds, particularly prey species, than before. They donít stop to think that the intentional eradication of predator species like wolves, coyotes, and big cats could be the cause of the deer and goose overpopulation, for example. Without the natural predator-prey cycle, how can one expect there to be any balance? And as such a hungry species numbering in the billions colonizing the planet and consuming all of its resources, perhaps humanity itself is to blame and, therefore, should not feel itself so empowered to make decisions regarding how many animals should be culled and which should be bred in numbers beyond necessary.
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