PAWS Magazine

 

Issue 46, Summer 2000

 

Goose Kill

Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife officials rounded up and killed 3,500 Canada Geese from parks in the Puget Sound region early this summer. A coalition of animal protection groups, including PAWS, had presented government agencies with a host of nonlethal alternatives to mass killing, but the proposals fell on deaf ears.

“It was incredibly frustrating,” said PAWS Wildlife Advocate Stephanie Hillman. “These killings will solve nothing, because nothing has been done to address the basics reasons why the geese are here. This will happen again next year and the year after that.”

The Canada Goose Coalition was formed last December by PAWS, Humane Society of the United States (HSUS), and Northwest Animal Rights Network (NARN), to help educate local governmental agencies who were asking for federal permission to kill geese.

In April the Coalition appeared at the Interlocal Water Management Task Force, a group comprised of the various parks departments of King County. John Haddidian, of HSUS, spoke of a successful program of nonlethal Goose management in Michigan. The program was a region-wide effort utilizing a variety of nonlethal alternatives, such as egg addling, dogs, and noise disturbances.

Despite the Coalition’s efforts to present successful alternatives such as those used in Michigan, the USDA Wildlife Services issued a permit to kill Puget Sound geese, normally a federally protected species. The Coalition filed an injunction in early June in federal court, but was unsuccessful.

Almost immediately the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife began rounding up and killing geese. “We know for certain that they took geese from Gasworks Park in Seattle, as well as from a park at the South end of Lake Union,” said Hillman. “We also know that they took them from Capitol Lake in Olympia.” Coalition members suspect birds were taken from several other Puget Sound parks, but do not know for sure because government official have refused to release the locations of their round-ups.

Coalition members and other animal advocates attempted to protect geese by visiting parks early in the morning and scaring away geese through noise abatement, but ultimately were not successful. "We wanted to be there to bear witness to what our government was doing,” said Hillman.

Hillman thinks that the goose killing was a very short-sighted solution. “This is something that they will have to continue to do year after year,” said Hillman. “Without utilizing any of the tactics that will keep the birds migrating, the birds will stay settled.”

Hillman believes that citizens can make a difference in their local community to prevent future killing of geese. “One of the things that I would hear over and over in these (government) meetings is the parks department managers saying that people told them that they don’t want to step in goose poop, and therefore ‘we are just responding to what we’ve heard from the people.’ But I think if these government and parks officials hear from animal advocates in their own communities, they probably won’t be as likely to kill again."



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