Niagara Gazette

Columns

September 17, 2013

CONFER: New York has a goose problem

(Continued)

Niagara Gazette — In the past decade there have been almost 80 reported goose versus aircraft strikes in the United States. Sooner or later, one of those collisions will take dozens of human lives – just as one did in 1995, destroying a $161 million air force plane while killing all 25 people aboard.

To combat these issues, state, federal and local officials decided to do something about it. In 2009, New York’s goose population was estimated to be 250,000 birds. They want to get the numbers down to 80,000 – a major undertaking considering the population grows 10 to 17 percent every year. So, it is now practice for many government organizations to round up and gas flocks of geese, issue nuisance control permits that allow out-of-season and mass killing, and destroy and/or poison eggs. Most recently, in a move that caught the ire of activists, the state allowed hunters to take more geese per day (15, up from 8). As evil as these measures may sound to animal lovers, they are necessary for all of the aforementioned reasons and more.

As a side note, resident geese should not be confused with migratory geese, those harbingers of spring and fall that pass through here in huge numbers every year and are a welcome sight and sound to nature lovers. Those birds frequent larger bodies of water and are just passing through, individual flocks staying anywhere from a few hours to no more than a few days. It is important to keep with federal law and protect these travelers with limited seasons and bag limits while they are on the wing. These visitors from the far north pose limited threat to man and are a welcome part of the environment.

Resident Canada geese are pests, a scourge, and, most appropriately, an invasive species. Ironically, from the late-1950s to 1970s they were introduced to New York and were managed to populate the state by the very governments and agencies now looking to wipe them out. They didn’t belong. But conservation and game officials thought they did. And now we, and the geese, are faced with the unsatisfactory outcomes of those decisions.

Gasport resident Bob Confer also writes for the New American magazine at TheNewAmerican.com. Follow him on Twitter @bobconfer

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