By Karen Stamper
Brute, Baby Girl and kids. Photo by Karen Stamper
On June 18, 2008, I saw Brute, Baby Girl, and their 2
babies for the last time! On June 19, the Michigan DNR came and removed
this precious goose family, and about 60 other resident geese, because
someone living in a condo next to the Nature Park, did not want them there.
These geese were like pets to most of the regulars that visited the
Township-owned park. On their application to remove the geese, the condo
association misstated that they owned the property.
I questioned Julie Oakes at the DNR Southfield office as
to why they donít check applications for basic accuracy. She said they donít
have the manpower to check every one. If they donít have the manpower to
check applications, then they shouldnít give out permits.
How often has this happened? I challenged the DNR, but to
no avail. When I received the FOIA request it was completely redacted. The
DNRís attorneys told us the Township had requested the round-up, but their
evidence was a 1996 resolution regarding a lake on the other side of town!
The condo association was never fined or confronted by
the DNR. We told them what they had done was illegal. They replied that they
would do nest destructions in future. They donít understand that it was a
privilege to be allowed to build near the park, and they have no ownership
rights to the park, and thus no right to harm the geese and other wildlife
It was upsetting to learn that the geese were separated
from their mates and babies and kept in a holding facility. We were told
they would be shipped to Kentucky, but they could have been killed, which is
what I suspect happened to them.
To this day it is disturbing that they took Brute and his
family who had been at the park at least three years. He had a damaged
wing, which the DNR judged to be ďangel wing,Ē possibly caused by human
feeding. However, I believed it was an injury from a fight, because he had
scars on his chest. After many years of experience watching geese, I donít
believe it was angel wing; I think it was a birth defect.
I am an amateur photographer and enjoyed watching this
really special goose for three years. In 2008, I was photographing Brute,
his mate, and their two babies. I always noticed that he and his mate, as
well as all the geese, swans, and ducks were quite aware of where
their babies were at all times and which ones were theirs, which made it
especially cruel to separate them at the ďholding facility.Ē
I asked Julie Oakes why not just let Bruteís family live
at the lake. She claimed the DNR couldnít do that because his damaged wing
wouldnít allow him to migrate. I pointed out that he had been fine there
before the round-up. The DNR had about 1800 geese in holding, and she said
they couldnít locate him and no one else would be allowed in the
facility. What they were hiding? After losing Brute I resolved to do
whatever I could to save geese.
Some people in Michigan and elsewhere donít like geese
because they poop on lawns. The DNR claims that their feces cause disease,
but cannot cite credible studies. I donít think any animal deserves to be
killed because a wildlife-phobic person chooses to buy a condo whose
backyard is a nature park. Not being allowed to harm wildlife should be a
requirement when buying a home near a lake or nature park.
In 2010 we video-taped some goose round-ups.
See one on You Tube: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=a35p6dtn3FM
It clearly shows that humane round-up rules were broken;
yet the condo association was never fined or reprimanded.
I was in my kayak that day to dissuade geese from
entering the canal leading to where they were captured. Men threatened me
from the banks and in boats, but I did manage to deter three geese from
going into the pen. I only wish I could have saved them all.
Karen Stamper is a photographer and activist. While
in the field, she became aware of injured animals, especially waterfowl,
which led her to do animal rescue. In recent years, she has seen first-hand
how Canada geese and mute swans are treated in Michigan and throughout the
United States. She said, It is my mission now to fight for these birds
and give them a voice. Cruelty to any animal should never be accepted in our
society, whether by an individual or by our government agencies.
Karen recently learned that the condo association didnít turn
their 2011 paperwork in on time, so they cannot have a goose
roundup this year!.