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During the second week of July, a company called Canada Goose Management, with the blessing of the MPRB, captured two beloved Canada goose families living in Loring Park. The company workers herded the terrified geese with fencing, then grabbed them, one by one, and put them into cages. The adult geese stayed by their flightless goslings in a vain attempt to protect them. The workers then put the caged geese into the back of a truck and drove them to a poultry processing plant where they were unloaded and dispatched to a slaughter line. There, they were probably electrocuted and then stuffed, head first, into a funnel so a slaughterhouse worker could slash their jugular veins.
The adults were ground into human food and the goslings into animal feed.
For it’s morning efforts, Canada Goose Management earned itself about $2,000.
—$250 for a park population survey
—$1,600 for site-wide removal
—$23 per adult, and $13 per young
The relationship between CGM and MPRB is this: the company decides how many and which birds to kill and then sends a bill to the MPRB.
Yet, there was not a goose overpopulation problem. According to Carrol Henderson, who heads up the Minnesota DNR's Nongame Wildlife Program, “April blizzard took a heavy toll on Canada geese. They usually begin nesting in early April, with goslings expected to hatch out in early May. However, many goose nests were buried in the April snow and the eggs froze, with the result that many of us are seeing fewer of those flotillas of goose families on lakes and ponds.”—Minneapolis Star Tribune, 1 August 2018.
A company that profits from the capture and slaughter of an animal should NOT be left in charge of deciding who and how many to capture and slaughter.
That seems obvious.
Furthermore, the MPRB management plan “allows” for one nesting pair per pond, so it’s own guidelines weren’t even followed. CGM is no more than a pest control company, not an environmental stewardship organization.
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Park visitors who'd come to love the Canada goose families noticed their absence almost immediately. One woman who lives in nearby senior’s housing wrote the following:
“I had a certain amount of dread when I did not see the Canada geese this week. I was aware that there had been roundups in some previous years, but I thought it was only when there was an unusually large population of geese.
With just two families in the park, the Canada geese would certainly not be any nuisance and neither of these families would be starting any problems. They, by instinct, would respond to overt aggression, but if dogs are leashed and the owners are not sociopaths, it seems there should not be many significant issues.
Maybe there is an undeclared war in the park against all that is gentle and loving? Recent months have not been kind to some of our finest animals; it seems they are getting dispatched regularly--officially and unofficially..
My heart is broken for these particular families were a special joy.
Senior Papa had a formal and gracious manner. He was the best possible ambassador from the avian world.
In the spring he would come to meet me and do a motion with his head to show that he came in friendship and wanted to renew acquaintance. He would be so respectful when we would meet. Then one day the couple would appear with goslings and tend them with great care. (Canada geese could be great role models for a fair percent of human parents).
Before long the goslings would recognize me, and they would rush past Papa seeing no need for formality when we were all just great friends (having no idea the care that he had taken to build the relationship) He, no doubt, hoped I understood something about children and that maturity on all levels is a long arc.
A very sad time! Should we say like Jesus did that ‘they know not what they do?’
Maybe the park board would like to try to make amends in some significant way both to the avian kingdom and to all of us who are in mourning.
Can you think of anything that would be remotely appropriate for this loss?”—Audrey
Yes, amends. We can think of a few appropriate actions the MPRB can take.
First, we want the Minneapolis Park and Recreation Board to formally acknowledge the wildlife of Loring Park as a feature to be cherished, not a nuisance to be dealt with.
Loring Park is unique in its ability to attract and nurture a diverse wildlife population right in the heart of a large urban area. Children, seniors, students, photographers, out-of-town visitors … women, men and children of all backgrounds appreciate and take great joy in their interactions with the animals of Loring Park. And the animals with them.
1. Don’t kill wildlife. Period.
2. Redefine “too many.”
MPRB captured and sent to the slaughterhouse every single Loring Park goose. That is not “management,” it’s total annihilation.
If a bonafide overpopulation problem arrises, animals should be humanely captured and relocated (NOT to a slaughterhouse). Furthermore, such activities must be transparent. Oversite is essential.
3. Discontinue the MPRB contract with Canada Goose Management, which is nothing more than a pest-control company.
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4. Educate with new Signage
—Instsall wildlife-identifier signs similar to the fish-identifier sign that stands next to the south-pond dock. These signs should describe and celebrate the diverse wildlife population of Loring Park.
—Repair, update and replace ‘Leash-and-Pick Up’ signs. Of the few that stood in the park, two have been lying behind the garden shed for at least two seasons.
New signs should reflect our respect for all wildlife. “Leash. Pick Up. Respect Wildife.”
5. Consider park wildlife before executing an action.
—Do not fell trees in the middle of winter when squirrels are hunkered down nor during baby season when trees contain helpless, unweebed babies.
—Do not launch fireworks from the dock during bird nesting season. Pride fireworks, in particular, pose a threat to baby red-winged blackbirds, baby mallards, baby wood ducks and baby geese, all of which nest around the dock and are just barely fledged by the time Pride arrives.
—If you destroy, then replace. One January, after the MPRB felled a large tree containing multiple semi-hybrinating squirrels, the MN Wildlife Rehab Centered offered to donate a nesting box so the displaced squirrels had refuge. The MPRB did not respond to the offer. Consequently, the animals were left to the elements. Squirrels do not, as you might expect, just find a new tree hole. Like any other animal, squirrels are territorial and do not welcome newcomers into their winter nest. The displaced animals most likely froze to death.
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Each park visitor has his or own favorite park activity. Some enjoy a leisurely walk or vigorous run around the ponds; some enjoy reading on a park bench or in a tethered hammock; some enjoy relaxing in or helping out in the garden; some enjoy a game of basketball or chess; and some enjoy connecting with the diverse wildlife. These are all equally valid park activities and must be valued and nurtured.
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