"Reason is always a kind of brute force; those who appeal to the head rather than the heart, however pallid and polite, are necessarily men of violence. We speak of 'touching' a man's heart, but we can do nothing to his head but hit it." --G.K. Chesterton

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Up with people!

I see that the problem of too many Canada geese interferring with human enjoyment of human-made parks has cropped up again, this time in Coquitlam. See this Coquitlam Now story about the situation at Como Lake Park. It sounds like City Hall has come up with a good action plan.
I've long been a supporter of a quick-response approach to dealing with problem geese. I'm not talking about geese in their natural habitat. I'm talking about geese that despoil places which were purpose-built for human enjoyment.
I recently discussed this issue with a biologist friend who is very environmentally aware and a strong advocate of protecting wildlife. I was pleasantly surprised when she told me she was completely on my side on this particular issue because the sort of big, aggressive geese that are plaguing our parks are actually an "invasive species" which should not be here in the first place.
Common sense prevails!
Meantime, here's the text of a column I wrote on the subject last year.

Face to Face for July 24 2009

By Terry O’Neill

This newspaper recently asked its online readers whether “officials [should] act more quickly to destroy problem coyotes.” About 70 percent of respondents answered in the affirmative, a finding that reaffirms my faith in the common sense of local residents.

But common sense seems to be lacking in the management of what I consider to be another “problem” animal, Canadian geese—specifically, the geese that have ruined the lawns at White Pine Beach on Sasamat Lake.

I recently had first-hand experience, not only with the noxious results of the goose infestation at White Pine, but also with the insultingly inept official response to that problem.

It came when I arrived at the beach at the half-way point of a bicycle ride. Looking for a place to rest my tired body, I naturally enough thought about resting on a vacant grassy area. But, thanks to the gangs of Canadian geese that are being allowed both to graze on the grass and defecate on what’s left of the lawns, there’s nowhere I would dare sit without a blanket (which, having biked into the park, I did not possess).

I parked myself on a bench, and when a group of park rangers strolled by, I asked them what was being done about the goose problem. Two of them shrugged their shoulders. A third uttered, not once but twice, “Well, it’s their park, you know.”

What an insulting answer. White Pine Beach is definitely not the geese’s park. The park was created by humans for human enjoyment, not by geese for goose enjoyment. Of course, the ranger’s answer reflects the accepted green wisdom of the day that humans are interlopers in and despoilers of the “natural world.” This intellectual nostrum rests on the questionable belief that humans are unnatural and geese are natural, so we shouldn’t complain when they poop in the park.

What a load. We wouldn’t let geese do their dirty business in a hotel lobby, on a theatre stage or atop a church altar. And we also shouldn’t tolerate their despoiling another important place where we humans gather, our parks.

Therefore, I believe that aggressive action should be taken to rid the parks of the geese. To borrow from Shakespeare, Cry havoc and let slip the dogs—or, if needs be, coyotes—of war!

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