A Tale of Two Species

First, here’s a mini guest-rant by a friend from Seattle in reference to the round up and lethal gassing of geese by Wildlife Services (that warped, wretched little wildlife-killing agency formally “Animal Damage Control”) at a nearby lake there:

“Wtf is wrong with people!!?? Will we not be happy until we are the only species on the planet? How dare the geese leave droppings that might be picked up by some diaper-filling toddler [DFT] while visiting the park for one hour. Those beaches should be animal and bug free, and sanitized because for heaven’s sake, kids go there sometimes. Wtf!”

In just a few short, satirical sentences this rant summed up my feelings on the goose situation (and their subsequent extermination) as well as my views on the grandiose, narcissistic and intolerant species responsible for this whole mess. (Note to self: add “goose-stomping Nazi war criminals” to the list of Top 10 New Names for Wildlife “Services.”)

I do have to admit though, whenever I see poop-filled human baby diapers thrown out along the road, discarded on ocean beaches or dumped in the woods at public trailheads, I wish there was some kind of “Service” you could call to round up and do away with the people who stoop to that kind of thing. But we live in a civilized society and don’t treat others so unforgivingly—that is, unless said “other” is a goose.

If people knew geese as personally as I do (I’ve watched them go through their courtship and nest-building routines, seen a gander loyally guarding his mate while she dutifully incubated her eggs, day and night, throughout windstorms and heavy snowfalls during the fickle Montana spring, and witnessed with joy the hatching and rearing of their precious chicks), they would surely think of geese as a species every bit as worthy as their own.

This issue is all the more maddening because it’s a situation humans have brought on themselves (as with so many other wildlife “problems”).

To the casual observer, lakes in western Washington may seem relatively pristine; the water is still so clear and blue it makes you want to dip your cup in and take a long drink. But if you’ve watched the changes over the years, you’d know it’s a habitat that has seen better days.

Not only were the old growth trees that grew to the water’s edge cut down and floated off, the lakeshores themselves were sliced up and sold off as recreation lots or multimillion dollar home sites. Naturally, land owners didn’t want their tiny strip of shoreline to be just a tangle of cedar and spruce trees or shrubs, like salmonberry, thimbleberry or huckleberry, so they tore out the native vegetation, built concrete bulkheads and brought in backfill and lawn grass. Of course they would need a place to tie up their power boat or jet-ski, so pilings were pounded into the sandy shallows where periwinkles and crawdads once thrived, and docks were built, at the expense of any lily pads or riparian vegetation that used to house bullfrogs and provide cover for fish.

The result of all this rampant manipulation is a strange new world, inhospitable for all but the most grass-loving of creatures. And it just so happens that geese, like humans, love mowed lawns. But if there’s one thing in the natural world human beings have a real problem with, it’s a species who dares to do well in the world after people have done their darndest to denude the landscape, claim it all for themselves and instill a sense of “order” that only they can relate to—complete with fences, fire pits and plastic patio furniture with a half-life of roughly 100,000 years.

Disposable diapers and plastic lawn chairs are a lasting scar on the planet. Goose poop, on the other hand, adds fertilizer to the depleted, lifeless soil.

Text and Wildlife Photography ©Jim Robertson, 2013. All Rights Reserved

Text and Wildlife Photography ©Jim Robertson, 2013. All Rights Reserved


28 thoughts on “A Tale of Two Species

  1. What a great post.

    I’d love to copy and mail this to a pack of assholes I happen to know, who live just as you describe and who didn’t even bother to call in the “goose-stomping Nazi war criminals”, rather, one of the homeowners asked everyone to look the other way while he personally “managed” i.e., MURDERED all the geese. When I found out about this, I was beyond words… I couldn’t believe it. I hope that man drowns in the very body of water he is so vehemently is trying to protect from the geese who have every right to be there.

    This is why I prefer animals to humans because you don’t see animals fucking each other over for a god damn percentage! Calling a human an “animal” is an insult to animals. They would never do the egregious shit humans do.

    • Same with the beautiful peacocks in my neighborhood. They walked on the roof of a neighbors house and disturbed her sleep. She came to my yard in her pajamas one morning hollering that it was my fault. We did have a population of birds here and they flocked to my property. But I saw no reason for the upset. Guns were used and dead peacocks littered the roadway. Animal control was called of course and they netted some to be killed at the shelter.

      • I have never got over it. Those birds were so lovely and we should have felt privileged to have them in the neighborhood. I seem to be the only one who felt that way though.

      • Denderah, was this in Southern California, by any chance? I used to love visiting the resident peacocks in an area where they were later rounded up because of these very types of neighbors. It’s impossible for me to get inside the heads of humans who are so anthropocentric as to be able advocate for or commit these cruelties. I often think that we must be different subspecies of human because I’ve never shared the “instincts” or inclinations of those who seem to enjoy human domination.

      • To Ingrid…This peacock holocaust took place near Las Vegas. I live in a small bedroom community in the desert outside the city. Someone started an artificial habitat in the neighborhood many years ago. The birds reproduced and the population infiltrated the surrounds. I just loved them! My property is an affluent biome. But the “authorities” call it an attractive nuisance. This is because it attracts wildlife. So therefore I was told to “cooperate.” I hate that word spoken by the badge. I gathered as many We saved about twenty-five of the birds we re=located to another acreage. The souless neighbor-there were only three people who hated the birds-these people shot them with pellets.people I could through ads in the paper to help me capture and re-locate the peacocks.

      • I have trouble with my computer. But to Ingrid-I gathered as many people as I could through ads in the paper to come help with the situation to save the birds. We trapped them in large cages and drove them to another acreage. They were released. But it only requires one or two hateful people to start the holocaust. So they were happy to shoot the birds with pellet and laugh.

      • One of these hideous people shot and killed a peacock and brought the body to my property where I would find it. They left a calling card-a hat next to the dead bird. Very creepy. I guess this gesture was to let me know who was in charge in this neighborhood or something. These creeps live very comfortably with themselves. I don’t understand it either.

      • No I’ve never shared the instincts of people who enjoy killing animals. They seem to sleep very well at night and have good appetites. And one picture on an animal blog of cruelty can do a number on me forever.

  2. Hunting and fishing: Humans show their thirst for blood
    Missoulian August 9, 2013
    The sports killing season of 2013 is upon us. In Montana alone, “sportsmen” will kill around 19,000 antelope, 40,000 deer, 300 wolves, 1,300 black bear, 200 bighorn sheep, 200 moose, 20,000 elk – then there are turkeys and an assortment of other birds to kill.
    It is sporting tradition. Wyoming will kill even more elk, having had record years the past 10. The states of Montana, Wyoming, Idaho and Wisconsin will push wolf-killing as far as they think they can get away with and not risk re-listing. Montana sells $19 wolf tags to kill five wolves.
    Then there is the U.S. Department of Agriculture Wildlife Services, which kills around 72,000 coyotes each year and around 28,000 other animals, a million animals a decade.
    Then there are the poachers of Africa, and the sportsmen who go there to kill dwindling populations of elephants and rhinos and lions.
    We, human animals, are overfishing the oceans and threatening sharks, whales, bluefin tuna and other marine life.
    Then there are the slaughterhouses, which will kill a billion chickens worldwide and millions of cattle, pigs and sheep each year. Now conservative state legislatures are pushing every year, despite what the American people have opposed over and over, the opening of horse slaughterhouses.
    Animal shelters “put down” (kill) thousands of dogs and cats each year because there are too many and too few homes for them.
    You would think that humans are primarily bloodthirsty carnivores, something as scary as the worse aliens you can imagine, which we are.

    Roger Hewitt, Great Falls
    Montana, Biology, Environment, Gray Wolf, Elk, Moose, Wolf, Bighorn Sheep

  3. I read the comments on the hunter blog in response to Roger’s letter. There is no hope for these people. They are the worst form of human. They really think hunters save the animals.

  4. The point here about geese loving grass is so pertinent … and also the key to dissuading them as opposed to killing them, if discouraging them is even necessary. Landscaping can be altered to make the terrain a bit less hospitable to geese. They like flat habitat with few visual obstructions. One can plant in a manner that reduces visibility for the geese and which then deters them from the area. I believe PAWS helped end the carnage of geese at Lake Union (I hope they haven’t resumed). They used dogs and lasers lights to haze.

    I’d prefer people learn to live in peace with other animals but at least the parks could have employed such humane alternatives. They didn’t even try, despite their protestations to the contrary. And they’ve manipulated people to believe that Wildlife Services did the humane thing by using CO2 on large birds that clearly suffer because they are resistant to this gas. Everyone should read Tom Knudson’s three-part exposé of Wildlife Services. It deserves grand distribution to finally put an end to this agency’s hegemony over wildlife “control” and policies.

    Lastly, on the points about shoreline development, when I moved back to Seattle after many years in Northern California, I was taken aback by the quantity of privately held shoreline and then the bulkheads and trimmed lawns lining the waterfront. In California, public/open shoreline is protected by the state constitution so I wasn’t prepared for the lack of wildlife habitat along both Puget Sound and Lake Washington. It makes it even more of a travesty that when animals find the few viable swatches on which they can rest or feed, this becomes their awful fate.

  5. This is somewhat off-topic. But there is a new show on TV called selling Alaska. People are migrating up there to settle homesteads. Now I wonder where that will all end? Yet more native habitat given over to housing development. We are hounding the animals right off the earth.

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