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Where Have All the Geese Gone?

Love them or hate them, it seems many of the Canadian geese that once called the Saucon Valley home have flown the proverbial coop.

Canadian geese have rarely been popular in our area, except with me. It is true that they squawk incessantly and leave inconvenient deposits whenever nature calls. However, they have an upside. They are quite beautiful, especially when being trailed on land and water by their progeny. I know, skunks too are beautiful, but very few stand up to defend them, even me.

Recently, the numbers of Canadian geese to be seen in the Saucon Valley are notably lower than they were last spring. The reason for that is unclear. It is, perhaps, that many were blown away by . Along the Saucon Creek in my neck of the woods, there is not a goose to be seen since that storm. I did notice a few geese off in a distant field along the Black River, west of Bingen Road. They seemed to be the exception rather than the rule.

It may be explained as well by the efforts of New York City to reduce its Canadian goose population in order to protect aircraft. In Brooklyn’s Prospect Park, the geese were first reduced by catching them and then gasing them. An outcry arose as to the method and the waste of high value protein (from the geese) which was being dumped into the city’s landfills. A new system was put into place. Geese were still caught but they were shipped live to, of all places, Pennsylvania, where they were converted into food--how is not clear, but certainly not with gas--and fed to hungry Pennsylvanians. Charity in New York, it appears, does not begin at home.

New York City also tried another method. They stole eggs from goose nests and coated the eggs in oil. They then put the oiled eggs back in the nests. The oil was supposed to prevent oxygen from reaching the embryos. The reason they had to put the eggs back in the nests was that when the geese realized they had empty nests they would lay more eggs. The geese turned out to be a lot more clever than the NYC Department of Dealing with the Geese Problem (NYCDDGP), however. Even oiled eggs seemed to have hatched.

The facts about the NYC geese effort are drawn from a number of articles in the New York Times. The comments on the articles have been much fun to read. One guy suggested that oil-on-eggs was a stupid idea: all the city needed to do was to wet the eggs and they would not hatch. Another stated that he preferred geese to airplanes, so there! To say the least, New Yorkers were not favorably impressed with the NYCDDGP.

One of the side effects of the missing geese is that has less to do. Time was when she happily chased the geese off our lawn. She never caught any, but they would depart en masse with a beautiful array of flashing under-wings and a noise that echoed through the valley. Molly still chases deer, which have grown in number, and doesn’t catch them either. (Perhaps this is nature’s way of replacing the geese.) Squirrels she has given up as a lost cause. Dogs on draw her extended comment, although when she walks on the trail with her mother she is very well behaved.

Back to geese.

There is good news for us Canadian geese lovers. You can have your own personal Canadian goose. Adopt one at Majestic Waterfowl Sanctuary in Lebanon, Conn. Indeed, I am sure they would let you adopt a mating pair. Check it out online.

charles hampton October 12, 2011 at 11:58 AM
Canada geese are partially responsible for the deterioration of numerous small ponds over the past thirty or so years. I favor the program to reduce their population and feed the poor.
Bob Linney October 12, 2011 at 03:23 PM
I ditto Charles comments and suggest that Bethlehem imposing fines for feeding the geese at places like Saucon Park may have helped in reducing the local population. Joel, you should take Molly to the LST dog park. You'll both have a good time. Your dog will be able to "catch" other dogs and you'll likely find an interested ear to share some of your thought provoking quandries.
Terri Simpson October 13, 2011 at 01:01 AM
I favor the program. I love animals but they overtake ponds not to mention what they do to aircraft's.

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