Environmentalism

Peace with Geese and Parachuting Cats in Borneo

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Parachute cats

As a city dweller, I have remained blissfully unaware of the war on geese raging in our suburbs, a tidy lesson in the law of unintended consequences:

In 1965 an intact flock [of Canada Geese] was discovered in Missouri. Wildlife agents took their eggs, incubating them in many parts of the country thus encouraging them to nest in a wide array of areas. Because migration is a learned behavior, if geese are born in New Jersey or Connecticut, they have no reason to fly off to Canada. They return to the place of their birth to nest and raise their young.

Various strategies have been employed to deflect geese, including putting oil on their eggs to strop development and stationing collies near ponds to discourage landing.

All of this reminds me of a book/pamphlet/very low budget production I had as a child called something like The Day It Rained Cats. It was the story of how the WHO wound up parachuting cats into Borneo in the 1950s:

In the early 1950s, there was an outbreak of a serious disease called malaria amongst the Dayak people in Borneo. The World Health Organization tried to solve the problem. They sprayed large amounts of a chemical called DDT to kill the mosquitoes that carried the malaria. The mosquitoes died and there was less malaria. That was good. However, there were side effects. One of the first effects was that the roofs of people's houses began to fall down on their heads. It turned out that the DDT was also killing a parasitic wasp that ate that cheating caterpillars. Without the wasps to eat them, there were more and more thatch-eating caterpillars. Worse than that, the insects that died from being poisoned by DDT were eaten by gecko lizards, which were then eaten by cats. The cats started to die, the rats flourished, and the people were threatened by outbreaks of two new serious diseases carried by the rats, sylvatic plague and typhus. To cope with these problems, which it had itself created, the World Health Organization had to parachute live cats into Borneo.

I can't be completely sure, but I think this story might actually be true. For more on geese, check out GeesePeace.org–which is also real.

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  1. Far be it for me, the token gun nut here on the board, to advocate an answer that might fall under the “if you only have a hammer, every problem looks like a nail” kind of solution, but I was under the impression that fine companies like Remington and Winchester make a tool that’s fantastic for dispatching geese, and allows one to have a fantastic dinner as well.

  2. Eff’n eh. Geese are nothing but groundhogs with wings. Noisy shit-filled buggers.

  3. From GeesePeace.org:

    Stabilize the population growth rate of resident Canada geese. Left unchecked, the numbers of Canada geese will double every five years.

    My word…it’s an environmental catastrophe in the making. A world overrun by geese. What can we do? PANIC!!!

  4. Remington and Winchester make a tool that’s fantastic for dispatching geese, and allows one to have a fantastic dinner as well.
    Not if they’ve been dining off of a golf course.

  5. I think there are so many gun nuts on this board (myself included) that we can’t be described as “token”.

  6. So when the flights of geese blot out the sun, will that solve the global warming thing?

  7. I’ve never had a real jones to move to Borneo, but if they have PARACHUTING KITTENS … !!

  8. I think mediageek is right. At least in New Jersey, the problem is that so many people refuse to allow the dang geese to be hunted. So all kinds of ineffective (and arguably crueller) alternatives are being tried, including a Hitlerian gas chamber on wheels. Meanwhile, formerly idyllic expanses of grass beside ponds have become unusable by us humans because of all the goose crap.

    BTW — a parasitic wasp that ate that cheating caterpillars — don’t you just love SpellCheck?

  9. Mediageek – Just be careful, when you are shooting at a goose, that you don’t hit a cat parachuting in to the neighborhood.

    CB

  10. As God is my witness, I thought that cats could fly!

  11. Wildlife agents took their eggs, incubating them in many parts of the country thus encouraging them to nest in a wide array of areas.

    You maniacs! You blew it up! Ah, damn you! God damn you all to hell!

  12. God I hate those damned geese. But, a .410 shell to the crotch kills them every time.

  13. Kind of off subject but where I grew up cats in the field were fair game. I notice now that people go to jail for that sort of thing. As far as I’m concerned I was just protecting the rabbit population for future consumption.

    I also think that Canadian geese are covered under the federal migratory waterfowl act, aren’t they?

  14. Reminds me of when the Dept. of Agriculture promoted widespread use of fertilizers and pesticides. Oh, and the Eural Electrification Program which led to the abandonment of windmills all over America.

  15. …roofs of people’s houses began to fall down on their heads.

    Make ’em out of metal. It’s plentiful and recyclable.

    …parachute live cats into Borneo

    I suppose when the cats become too much of a problem, they’ll have to parachute dogs in, so literally it will be raining cats and dogs.

    …the war on geese raging in our suburbs

    Shoot the fucking things.

    Nuf’ said.

  16. highnumber, you’ve brightened my Monday morning a little. [tear]

  17. “a .410 shell to the crotch kills them every time”

    TO THE CROTCH?? WHAT! Why the crotch? How in the world do you shoot a goose in the crotch? It’s so close to the ground you can’t even SEE it, much less hit it.

    I am curious, goose.

    CB

  18. And these people think we can control the climate?

  19. Down here in Texas it’s deer. Kerr County reportedly has the highest Whitetail population per acre in the world.

    And yes, we have the OMGYOUCANTKILLTHEM folks. And the folks who insst on feeding them. And the folks who want to solve the problem with birth control. And the folks who want them trapped and released where they can run free without being hunted. Etc.

    Remington and Winchester make a tool that’s fantastic for dispatching geese, and allows one to have a fantastic dinner as well.

    In “ranchette” developments where you don’t want to launch a bullet that can travel three miles, a Benelli with buckshot does the job well.

    Stabilize the population growth rate of resident Canada geese.

    I didn’t see them mention that “stabalizing the population growth rate” has to be repeated annually forever.

  20. Hunters For the Hungry could make short work of the geese and feed a lot of people in the process.

    Personally, I think the smartest solution is to import alligators to eat the geese. This rules because once we had to deal with the unintended consequences of this, alligator-skin boots would be much less expensive.

  21. This cracks me up. Well-meaning hippies going around addling geese eggs. I’m personally with the shotgun crowd, but I actually like having the geese around.

  22. Well… to my knowledge… those flying rats are still on the endangered species list… meaning even though they produce enough green poo to coat a road, we can’t kill them.

    Nephilium

  23. Neph – your fields are awesome.

  24. All this talk about geese confuses me. The real pestilence from the air is the sea gull.

  25. There is a severe overpopulation problem of Prarie Dogs in Colorado. We have hawks doing some of the work, but they’re quite territorial, unfortunately, and one of them can only eat so many.

    In the nearby parallel universe of Boulder, they built a wall between a park and a vacant area to keep the little buggers out, but were quite dismayed when they started tunneling under the wall. I think someone in Boulder once brought up the idea of shooting and/or drowning, and was summarily executed by city officials.

  26. “And yes, we have the OMGYOUCANTKILLTHEM folks. And the folks who insst on feeding them.”

    A friend of a friend was telling me about his neighbors who insist on feeding the local prairie dogs because they’re “cute.”

    Due to expanding development, he can’t shoot the little buggers. Which is too bad.

    Because as everyone knows, Prairie Dogs are just Mother Nature’s reactive targets.

  27. I just see this as the logical outgrowth of the ban on foie gras.

    CB

  28. Taktix– In other versions of the story, they replace the thatch with tin. Unfortunately, the rain pounding on the tin overhead keeps people awake at night.

  29. As a city dweller, I have remained blissfully unaware of the war on geese raging in our suburbs

    I stopped reading at that sentence because Chicago is waging a war on geese. It ain’t just a suburban thing.

  30. Episiarch,

    The alligator idea has its merrits, but it won’t work very well in the Chicago suburbs, where those damn geese are everywhere.

    I grew up in south central Illinois and I literally never saw a goose ever.

    Up here by Chicago, there are thousands of them in every town.

  31. Skinner: Well, I was wrong. The lizards are a godsend.
    Lisa: But isn’t that a bit short-sighted? What happens when we’re overrun by lizards?
    Skinner: No problem. We simply unleash wave after wave of Chinese needle snakes. They’ll wipe out the lizards.
    Lisa: But aren’t the snakes even worse?
    Skinner: Yes, but we’re prepared for that. We’ve lined up a fabulous type of gorilla that thrives on snake meat.
    Lisa: But then we’re stuck with gorillas!
    Skinner: No, that’s the beautiful part. When wintertime rolls around, the gorillas simply freeze to death.

  32. Where I live you can practically run over the geese with your car.

  33. All this talk about geese confuses me. The real pestilence from the air is the sea gull.

    Seagulls are winged angels compared to Canadian geese.

  34. TO THE CROTCH?? WHAT! Why the crotch? How in the world do you shoot a goose in the crotch? It’s so close to the ground you can’t even SEE it, much less hit it.

    Shoot better.

  35. As I think about my earlier comment I realized… the geese I am most familiar with are the ones in MY neighborhood; walking aound the streets near the local pond, with their goslings in tow… THOSE are the ones with the lowrider crotches. I suppose that the ones that TPG is talking about are the ones that are flying in to a landing at the lake… with crotch exposed for all to see.

    Somehow I was thinking about shooting a walking goose, not a flying goose. No sport in that. Like shooting cows instead of deer. My bad.

    CB

  36. Somehow I was thinking about shooting a walking goose, not a flying goose. No sport in that. Like shooting cows instead of deer. My bad.

    Shoot a walking goose? I just run them over with the left front tire.

  37. A few years back the geese infestation was a real concern here in the Seattle area. Not only are they a nusiance but a real health problem (e. coli at area beaches).

    So King County decided to thin out the herds. It was suggested logically that, rather than waste the meat, the geese could be harvested and donated to the local food banks. The lawyers nixed that idea: to avoid potential liability each carcass would have to be inspected for an array of problems, at some ridiculous cost (I think it was like $50 per bird).

    So the birds just disappeared instead. I think they did use the mobile gas chambers j.p. mentions. And then quietly dumped the bodies in a landfill somewhere.

  38. Get yourself a spring trap, crazy-glue corn kernals to the release mechanism. Buddabing – the goose is cooked without gun noise. Make sure the trap is somewhere that the neighborhood kids won’t get into it. Trapping a child is sure to be noisy.

  39. Hugh Akston wrote: “There is a severe overpopulation problem of Prarie Dogs in Colorado.”

    Really? All the prarie dog colonies I know of in Colorado were destroyed years ago.

  40. I love the image of 14000 cats being parachuted into Borneo!

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