King’s College, Cambridge: commit to using only humane methods of goose control!
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We are launching this petition to urge King’s College, Cambridge to produce an official statement explicitly confirming that they will rule out lethal means of managing goose numbers in this and all future years. This includes involvement with external contractors where there is any possibility that this will result in their culling.
The College considers the mess the geese leave on the lawn to be hazardous; namely due to certain pathogens found in goose droppings. Evidence linking contact with goose faeces to human disease is generally described as inconclusive and low risk, and can be lessened with good practice protocol such as hand washing and wearing protective gloves. Other reasons given are that the droppings present a slip hazard and contain silt that interferes with the lawn-mowing equipment. We do not believe these to be justifiable reasons for keeping open the possibility of using lethal wildlife management methods.
The College Council decided “that appropriate and measured responses to the geese problem be undertaken to reduce quickly the numbers of geese on the Lawns and when appropriate remove them from the Backs.” “Removal” was later clarified to mean contracting a pest control company to remove the geese. As these geese are a non-native species, the law states that they cannot be released from captivity into the wild. Therefore, they will almost certainly be killed.
King’s College students submitted a petition letter opposing lethal goose control techniques, signed by a quarter of the College’s student population. Within the letter, students put forward a number of effective and low-cost ethical alternatives, such as non-toxic chemical deterrents, which once sprayed on vegetation renders it distasteful and thus undesirable habitat. Ultrasonic bird repellents, that operate outside the frequency of standard human auditory range, are another viable method. A further possibility is habitat alterations; planting additional waterfront vegetation and/or leaving the grass to grow longer, to discourage the geese from frequenting the area. The College has not indicated that it has explored these options.
The College Council acknowledged the petition but did not overturn its previous decision, instead deciding to “continue with their measures to remove the geese in a humane manner, keeping in mind not to cull any geese unless it is unavoidable”. It should be noted that one humane alternative - creating predator decoys – was disregarded on the grounds that “we didn’t want people taking photos of our cardboard cutouts, and to become the butt of everyone’s humour.” If this is the kind of reasoning the College is using to reject potentially effective approaches, we do not believe it can describe culling as an essential last resort.
The College proceeded to erect a pen on their grounds to capture and enable the removal of the geese from the site. It claims that what the contracted pest control company does to the geese afterwards is not up to them. Due to a drastic reduction in numbers of geese on the lawns, apparently unrelated to any actions taken by King’s College, the pen has since been - what appears to be temporarily – dismantled. However, the dismantled parts remain on the lawn and the College has confirmed that the pen will be reassembled if and when the geese return…
Please, take a stand against needless violence and support our beautiful wildlife. Request that King’s College, Cambridge listen to the concerns of their student body and the wider community, and commit to pursuing and implementing only non-lethal methods of goose control!
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