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CASH Courier > 2003 Summer Issue

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The C.A.S.H. Courier

Activists step up bid to save geese

Campaign seeks to stop city from killing birds it sees as health risk

By MATTHEW CRAFT
SEATTLE POST-INTELLIGENCER REPORTER

Wearing a brown 7-foot goose costume, Bob Chorush waddled around Westlake Park yesterday afternoon, shaking hands with children and trying to draw attention to the coming Canada-goose kill.

Chorush, the head of Give Geese a Chance, is one of many animal rights activists who want to stop Seattle Parks and Recreation's roundup and gassing of Canada geese.

Lately his group has stepped up its efforts. They put the home telephone number of the superintendent of the park department, Ken Bounds, on a banner and hung it from the pedestrian overpass at the end of the West Seattle Bridge. They staged small protests outside his house.

"We're going to start goosing the mayor over this," Chorush said. "I'm honking mad. I think it's a travesty to kill wildlife in this city. We have so few wild animals anymore, and the ones we have, we're killing them."

Chorush said his group has around 160 volunteers who take shifts at local parks, watching for U.S. Department of Agriculture employees who gather up the geese.

Last year, the volunteers sat in kayaks and speedboats and tried to chase geese away from the shore -- and certain death.

At Westlake Center yesterday, representatives from PAWS used a video screen to show footage of the goose hunt.

One agent tossed bread toward a gaggle. The geese left the water and were herded into a cage. The workers grabbed the geese by the neck and stuffed them into a gas chamber sitting in the bed of a truck.

"They should stop it because it doesn't work," said Jennifer Hillman, a legislative coordinator for PAWS, "and because it's inhumane."

A better way, Hillman said, would be to focus on addling and to discourage the birds from eating short grass by erecting barriers at the water's edge.

PAWS has been working with the local Humane Society to shift the park department's methods toward addling. They say geese should be handled like dogs and cats.

"We see it as a spay-and-neuter issue," Hillman said.

The park department sent out a letter earlier this year to people who own property along fresh water, Potter said. It asked them to call the Department of Agriculture if they found a nest, and agents would come out and addle the eggs.

"We have great faith in the addling method," Potter said.

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