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
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
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
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
released, some hand reared - many had their wings clipped, so that they
could no longer migrate. Breeding was encouraged and artificial nest
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
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
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
NOT a threat to human health, but the killing permits are automatically
issued without validating the claims of those seeking killing permits.
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
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
To learn what you can do to make them accountable to the
public and to be of service to wildlife, contact us through
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