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C.A.S.H. Letters to the Editor > 2004

C.A.S.H. Letters

COUNTRY CLUB SHOOTS GEESE

3/5/04

Dear Asbury Park Press:

RE: "Neighbors fear for safety as country club shoots geese" (3/5/04), the neighbors, who are justified in their fear and anger, have the right to know who is responsible for this dangerous situation.

Yes, the Ocean Acres Country Club deserves condemnation for both killing geese and for endangering children (who were in the vicinity of the shooting), but the invisible (and so, all the more dangerous) villains behind the scenes are the federal and state wildlife agencies that control all decisions about wildlife.

The federal Migratory Bird Treaty Act of 1918 charges the USFWS (US Fish and Wildlife Service) with protecting all migratory birds (including Canada geese). This was enacted because commercial trade in birds and their parts had wreaked havoc with native bird species. Given the less than altruistic nature of most humans in positions of power, this "protection" included regulated killing (hunting).

The responsibility for protecting migratory birds was placed at this federal, rather than local, level to prevent the likelihood that local agencies would cave into special interests, at the expense of the birds. The latter is what has happened, as the USFWS has ceded much decision making to the states, who are allowed to issue depredation permits to kill Canada geese.

The NJ Division of Fish and Wildlife is only too happy to issue these killing permits - based not on science, and certainly not on ethics - but because they are a hunting club, masquerading as a government agency. That, indeed, is why we have so many geese in NJ.

The USFWS, as reported in their own document, created the resident goose population in NJ that they claim must be "managed" (i.e., killed). In the 1950's, geese were introduced into Brigantine as a decoy flock to attract migratory geese as targets for hunters. Further geese were released, some hand reared - many had their wings clipped, so that they could no longer migrate. Breeding was encouraged and artificial nest sites were constructed.

The USFWS thereby created a resident population.

Whenever there is a real, or even just perceived, human/animal conflict, Fish and Wildlife's solution is always to kill. They work hand in bloody hand with municipal and county government, and private entities who want to get rid of geese on their property, to force through a "sport" hunt and/or sniper hunt (sharpshooting, gassing, strangling, or other depraved killing methods, conducted by either private companies or by the USDA's Wildlife Services, which markets its services as a killing business for hire).

Political expediency, greed, and selfishness, not reason, determine whether ineffective lethal, or effective non-lethal, solutions will be used.

By federal law, before a killing permit is issued, it must be demonstrated that the geese are "seriously injurious." Public health authorities have repeatedly issued statements that Canada geese feces are NOT a threat to human health, but the killing permits are automatically issued without validating the claims of those seeking killing permits. The animals are not valued as species or as individuals, but are viewed as resources to be killed and used (for perverse profit or pleasure) or as problems to be eliminated.

Wildlife agencies exist to serve the interests of hunters and weapons manufacturers, not the non-hunting public (over 98% of New Jerseyans), and certainly not wildlife. Evaluation of these agencies is overdue.

To learn what you can do to make them accountable to the public and to be of service to wildlife, contact us through www.all-creatures.org/cash .

Regarding the particular crime against nature reported in this article, the Ocean Acres Country Club predictably denied that they put children at risk.

Law enforcement and mental health professionals acknowledge the strong link between animal abuse and human abuse. For those of us who deal with these issues (as a family social worker and animal advocate, I deal with both), it is not surprising to see those responsible for animal abuse to also show lack of compassion for vulnerable humans. It is to be hoped that Ocean Acres will terminate the killing immediately and call in GeesePeace http://www.geesepeace.org/ , which has provided effective, non-lethal methods of dealing with wildlife conflicts all over the country.

While the article demonstrated the dangers to humans that arise from these ill conceived animal killing schemes, not one person in the article decried the cruelty to the geese. One father, legitimately concerned with the safety and emotional well-being of his daughter, who viewed one of the killers wring the neck of one of the goose victims, did not extend his compassion to the geese.

I urge the parents of every child who viewed this heinous violence to discuss it with their children. Let them know that violence is never a solution and that compassion should be the guiding principle in all decisions in life. Compassion and reason are not incompatible; those who profit from or enjoy abusing animals claim that they are, as an excuse to continue exploiting animals.

This unconscionable cruelty, carried out against the geese, WILL affect the children who witnessed it. Hanging in the balance is whether these children turn out to be advocates for or against cruelty toward animals and, by extension, other humans.

Susan Gordon, Representative
Wildlife Watch (which has 3500 supporters in NJ)
PO Box 562
New Paltz, NY 12561


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