Committee to Abolish Sport Hunting

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Letters to the Editor and Others

Scarecrows Keep the Geese Away

Submitted to the Princeton (NJ) Packet 9/13/03

As a wildlife protection organization that often helps to resolve the conflicts that people have with Canada geese, Wildlife Watch commends Mr. Basil Robinson for using a scarecrow – a humane method of goose control – to make his surroundings unpleasant for the birds to reside. (Goose-buster 9/12) It is encouraging to learn that despite his bias against the birds, Mr. Robinson has seen the efficacy of non-violent techniques that prevent geese from being a problem. “It worked like a charm," said Mr. Robinson.

The low opinion that Mr. Robinson has of the geese is one that sounds as if he had been coached by any of the various state and federal wildlife control agencies that promote hunting and killing over humane control methods. Game agencies promote the idea that killing geese is an effective way to control the population. Aside from being cruel, hunting has not decreased the population of geese in New Jersey. The myth that geese spread disease is propagated only by those who wish to kill them. Dr. Timothy Ford, professor at the Harvard School of Public Health states: "In my mind, there is no possibility that the Canada goose will ever be a major route of (Cryptosporidium) infection (in humans)." Cryptosporidium is the bacterium that is often cited as the bridge between goose droppings and human disease.

Another myth is that goose populations are high because the birds have few natural predators. Raccoons, skunks, and snapping turtles are all predators of Canada goose eggs and goslings. Any suburban area will have its share of these animals, who if left to themselves will eat a good number of goose eggs. Unfortunately, wildlife management agencies including that of the New Jersey Department of Fish and Wildlife, encourage trappers to kill these very animals so that among other things, Canada goose populations remain as they are.

In fact, game agencies have been increasing the Canada goose population since the 1960s. It is they who are to blame for the situation at hand. Through their hunting and trapping programs, Fish and Wildlife will continue to mismanage the goose population for years to come. Wildlife management agencies do this because they profit from the excise tax on firearms and ammunition, and bows and arrows; and state wildlife division budgets, including the salaries of the managers, are funded through collected hunting license fees. They use the word “game” to describe wildlife, because they are involved in a game where they manipulate wild animal populations so that they remain artificially high, so they can reap the benefits that come from selling hunting licenses. Think about it – if hunting actually reduced the population of wild animals, why does Fish and Game need to hunt the same populations year after year?

Canada geese are among the most misunderstood waterfowl. When the truth is told it benefits the community as well as the geese themselves. Canada geese mate for life. Mated pairs raise and protect their young together and will also look out for one another for as long as they live. Those who have spent time observing geese will tell you that these very emotional, intelligent and extremely devoted creatures deeply mourn not only the loss of their mates, but also the destruction of their eggs.

Geese are now part of the suburban landscape and when we learn to co-exist peacefully with them, it enhances our appreciation of wildlife and the natural world. We need to reject the pro-violence propaganda spewed forth by state game agencies, and learn to respect and value our resident wildlife and peacefully coexist with them. For more information on how to peacefully coexist with wildlife in your area, please contact Wildlife Watch at (845) 256-1400 or visit our websites at www.wildwatch.org  and www.canadageese.org  

Joe Miele, Vice President

New Jersey Field Office

Wildlife Watch

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