Urgent: Tell the Urbana Park District (UPD) to Cancel Their Massacre of Geese

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To the Urbana Park District Board of Directors and Derek Liebert, Superintendent of Planning and Operations,


Despite public opposition, the Urbana Park District voted unanimously on May 12, 2020 to go through with a so-called “charity harvest.” Although that might sound altruistic, what this policy amounts to is mass slaughter of the geese that live in Crystal Lake Park. The UPD claims the geese are responsible for problems which can be divided into 1) inconveniences for human visitors to the park and 2) ecological issues. They also claim that attempted strategies to manage the geese have been ineffective. The truth is that the current management strategy is working; however, the UPD feels that it is not working quickly enough to begin the $2.5 million plan to renovate the park, which is why they want to kill them. Goose culls are unethical, inhumane, ineffective, and unnecessary. So please, cancel it now!


Goose culls are inhumane. Employees from the United States Department of Agriculture-Wildlife Services (USDA-WS) would come to the park during the geese’s molting season, round up terrified geese, and ship them to slaughterhouses. Since they are rounded up during molting season, the birds will be flightless and defenseless. Their families will be torn apart and the geese that remain will be vulnerable and terrified. Not only is this violent and unethical on its own, but the USDA-WS also has a well-documented history of being especially cruel to animals, often failing to minimize the suffering of their captive victims. You can see more here: http://www.predatordefense.org/exposed/ Also, wild goose meat tends to contain lead, pesticides, and other toxins, and food banks often will not accept it.


Goose culls are ineffective. Current nonviolent strategies have resulted in a consistent decrease in the goose population at Crystal Lake Park over the last five years, according to the UPD’s own numbers, shown in the timeline at the bottom of this page: https://www.urbanaparks.org/projects/geese-population-and-management/ Killing geese will spark a population increase, as survivors will reproduce in greater numbers due to the abundant food supply and space to occupy. Killing is not a solution. The UPD will have to repeat this violence again and again. They can claim they will change the conditions the geese are attracted to, but the current strategies will work (and have been working) without the mass killing. There is no reason for this violence.


Goose culls are unnecessary. Current management strategies are working, as shown above, and will continue to work without violence. Since 2015, the numbers made available by the UPD show an average decrease of 9%, and the last two years of data show a decrease of 12%. This is attributable to the tactics the UPD claims are not working: habitat modification, nesting management, and humane hazing.


The population decrease is happening quickly enough to mitigate the ecological problems attributed to the geese, even if it is not fast enough for the UPD to start their park renovation project right away. Ask yourself, do we really benefit more from a boating deck than geese do from being able to live their lives in peace? Of course not. And if we really want to speed up the population decrease, there are humane strategies the UPD has not yet implemented that might help, which include planting taller grass and setting up a “tolerance zone” where geese can live separately from the human parts of the park.


Finally, while some problems have been observed, like goose feces on boat decks, these are solvable by hiring employees to clean the waste (which is not a significant health hazard). They are also rather trivial problems, with documents showing little impact from the geese on most human spaces at the park. No one deserves to die just for existing.


The public knows that the goose cull is inhumane, ineffective, and unnecessary. That is why we flooded public comment at the Board of Directors meeting with our opposition. That is why we protested the decision on May 12. And that is why we are sending this petition to demand that you CANCEL THE KILLING NOW!