THEY CAME TO KILL GEESE, BUT ALL
THEY FOUND WERE ACTIVISTS.
By Bob Chorush, Seattle WA
For the second year in a row, Seattle goose activists
staked out local parks and lake-side beaches to protect resident
Canada geese from the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA)
Wildlife Services agents who were hired by the Seattle Parks and
Recreation Department to round up and asphyxiate the geese in pick-up
truck mounted portable gas chambers.
This year, activists concentrated on protecting geese rather than attempting
to interfere with USDA agents. To do this, the activists assembled a small
navy of vessels including several kayaks and canoes, a rowboat, a jetski and
a speed boat, as well as wet suits and hip waders. Activists joined the geese
in the water whenever USDA killing attempts were made which so agitated the
geese that they could no longer be caught and gassed.
In Seattle, as elsewhere in the U.S., navigable waterways are under a separate
legal jurisdiction from roads, streets, parks and other land. Because of this,
Seattle Police were unable to order activists out of the water without calling
in a Harbor Patrol boat which usually gave activists time to make sure the
geese were safely away from shore.
Seattle activists again asked Park Superintendent Ken Bounds to call off the
goose hunt at a demonstration at Parks and Recreation offices just prior to
the commencement of the hunt. More than 50 activists with five bullhorns and
several guitars serenaded a Parks Commission meeting from outside the offices
with Give Geese a Chance until Bounds came out to plead for quiet since
the Commissioners were unable to hear anything except the singing.
As many as 1500 letters and emails were sent to the Parks and Recreation Department
opposing the goose kill during the three-week-long campaign. The geese can
only be captured when they are molting and unable to fly. This year, the goose
kill ended early when federal agents attempted to kill geese at South lake
Union Park and the geese flew off.
Give Geese a Chance activists will be organizing a pre-emptive campaign to
call off any goose kill in Seattle in 2003.