Letter to the Editor re Goose Slaughter in Downingtown
3 July 2004
I’ve had the dubious “privilege” of attending what are
called “Atlantic Flyway” conferences, and on occasion “Joint Conferences of
the Atlantic and Mississippi Flyways.” The conferences are comprised of
waterfowl managers from states along a "flyway," or a vertical flight
corridor from the north to the south. A “flyway” is not really the way birds
fly, as you might suspect. Birds also fly from east to west and back again.
A “flyway” is simply a construct for the cooperation of wildlife managers to
keep large, huntable flocks of Canada geese in their states. Canada geese
are the “products” of goose “management”; consequently, municipalities
and geese alike become their victims.
Listen clearly, it is the management for the hunting of
geese that is the cause of the suburban and urban flocks. Consider that
Canada geese were wiped out prior to the 1960’s. When several goose eggs
were discovered, it led to geese being artificially reared at wildlife
management areas, and the goslings were taken to various states to
fledge. The idea was that they would return from whence they fledged.
After learning about the heart-wrenching “roundup” of
geese, I checked my Pennsylvania maps and discovered that the Borough of
Downingtown is, for a Canada goose, a mere hop, skip, and a jump from Middle
Creek Wildlife Management Area (WMA). The website of this WMA boasts 5,000
acres where the Pennsylvania Game Commission “protects, propagates, manages,
preserves, and controls the harvest of wildlife.” The area includes a
400-acre shallow water lake and 70-acre impoundment for ducks, geese,
swans. No doubt, this plays a role in the federal North American Waterfowl
Management plan that mandates the management of ducks, geese, and swans
extremely high populations for hunters.
Managers really don’t want geese in populated areas where
they can’t be hunted. In fact, they are “useless” to them as profitable
targets. Yet, due to hunting, and the management for hunting, more and more
geese are “grown” who later seek refuge from the shot in the management
areas. Think of these geese as refugees from the management areas. They
seeking relief in our suburban and urban areas. No doubt, what helps
them to settle comfortably are all the goose salad bars that meticulous
parks departments and lawn caretakers unwittingly put out for them.
I have also witnessed planning sessions between wildlife
services and a few individuals who want geese destroyed in which the
public relations ploy of “donating Canada goose flesh to the poor” was
concocted. They were giggling over the effect of having the goose killing
a magnanimous deed.
We congratulate Mr. Nagel for speaking out against this
ill-advised scheme. When Canada goose flesh has been tested, it has been
found that the lead levels far exceed what would be fit for human
consumption. When this first came to light in NY, sadly, the NYS Dept. of
Health held secret meetings with game agents, and later approved of the
flesh. Please see our website posting regarding this:
It’s pathetic that we’re continually addressing the effect
of the cause.
As I see it, there are several ways to stop the growth of
the Canada goose population:
1) Stop the trapping and killing of the natural predators
of geese, goslings, and eggs. Among those predators are raccoons, skunks,
possums, and snapping turtles.
2) Stop the management of Canada geese for hunting. That
may be accomplished fast if municipalities and private communities brought
class action lawsuits against state wildlife management divisions and the
U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.
We'd be more than happy to help. Further, if a “poor” person who has
received this flesh develops tremors, experiences loss of memory, or
confusion, please contact us so we can put you in touch with a
Finally, shame on Steve Sullins, Downingtown Borough
Manager, for knowing that landscaping changes, and a few non-lethal methods
would have prevented all the heartbreak, pain and death.
Anne Muller, President
C.A.S.H. – Committee to Abolish Sport Hunting, Inc.