Thursday, January 05, 2006

We’ve Been Goosed

Canada Goose

My workplace is located on the outskirts of Richmond, Virginia, in an affluent suburb recently bulldozed out of woods and farmland. It is an area where upscale yuppie housing mingles with office parks occupied by finance companies, insurance agencies, and high-tech firms.

One of the features of these office parks is the elegantly landscaped pond or lake, often with a fountain in the center and surrounded by brick sidewalks and ornamental shrubbery. In the architects’ sketches well-dressed office workers stroll among the glassy high-rises, all reflected perfectly on the surface of the adjacent lake.

And one of the unintended consequences of these artificial wetlands is Branta canadensis, commonly known as the Canada Goose.

Canada GooseGeese find suburban lakes particularly attractive. There they have no natural predators, and are protected by law, so that the only risk they face is being run over on the nearby roads. The well-watered lawns and cultivated flowerbeds afford them tasty delicacies, even if kind-hearted animal lovers don’t toss food to them.

So why should they leave? Migrate, schmigrate! These geese stay year ’round, strutting and fretting and honking and flapping. And hatching goslings — lots and lots of ugly little goslings.

I remember when I was a kid, Canada geese were a rarity. Occasionally in the fall or spring a migrating flock would go honking overhead, trailing their characteristic V-formation past the treetops. So beautiful and so romantic! And when a flock landed on somebody’s pond for an overnight stay, it was a real treat.

But not anymore.

I thought about all this yesterday afternoon when I looked out my office window and saw a huge flock of geese outside, crowding the lawn and the parking lot and crapping all over the sidewalk. Their green turds are everywhere, turning the lake a muddy olive color and causing a miasma of stench to hang over the area near the water. The scattered droppings make us do a little dance of avoidance on our way to the front door.

And these geese have nasty tempers. When they raise goslings in the spring they are particularly likely to attack the unwary pedestrian if he strays too close. Never would rough men in camouflage and hip boots and carrying shotguns be more welcome!

So it’s no wonder that they’re considered pests now, and almost universally loathed by those who have to spend any time among them. They may be prettier than cockroaches or rats, but they’re a lot bigger and a lot more visible. There’s even a service called Canada Goose Management, dedicated to keeping these oversized pigeons under control. Just call 1-866-POOP BE Gone!

But guess what? The Canada Goose is protected by law, and you can’t just shoot the buggers and be done with it. You have to scare them away with loudspeakers or fireworks or something, making sure to follow the Geneva Convention so that your treatment of them never rises to the level of torture.

All this is because the Canada Goose was an endangered species forty years ago. As a result, laws were enacted to protect them, and the wildlife management folks made a massive effort to rebuild the population. Why, flocks of them were even imported into Europe — can you imagine?

In addition, their habitat had to be protected, and so the notorious process of “wetlands preservation” began. Time was, draining swamps contributed to the public health and was considered a civic duty. But nowadays if water stands in a low spot long enough to hatch mosquito larvae, Uncle Sam stands ready to bring the full force of the federal government to bear on the unlucky property owner who tries to do anything about it.

So we’re in the ridiculous situation of having to endure a noxious nuisance, restrained by law from taking action. And the geese are bad for our health — when their excrement gets tracked into our buildings and dries out, it enters the ventilation system as dust and becomes dangerous for asthmatics and people with other respiratory problems.

This is a paradigm for our times writ small: continue to follow outdated rules, ones formulated long ago. So what if the situation they apply to no longer exists? Ignore the detrimental effects of what we do — we have good intentions; isn’t that enough? The high-minded elites know what’s best for us, particularly when they don’t have to hang out with the damned geese themselves.

Now think of the same paradigm writ large. Think of the terrorists on whose conversations we may not eavesdrop. Think of the murderous mujahideen who must be treated with kid gloves, given three squares and a soft bed, and then released back into the wild. These Islamist geese will do more than crap on our sidewalks if we let them go.

Because I say such things, you know that I must be a racist.

You’d better hope that William Blake was right when he said, “The road of excess leads to the palace of wisdom.” You’d better hope that the fool who persists in his folly becomes wise.

Because as long as we persist in applying trivial rules to our current circumstances, we put ourselves in grave danger.

And all because of rules formulated long ago, when gentlemen fought civilized wars with each other and did not read each other’s mail. Back in those days we played by the rules because the enemy did, too, or at least mostly. Back then there were no terrorists with VX gas or dirty bombs. Back then there were scarcely any terrorists at all, and the few that existed confined themselves to Russia or the Rub al-Khali.

But not anymore.

Canada Goose


Papa Ray said...

Yea, but if your like me and go around the net leaving droppings such as calling Islam the most evil cult in the world and calling for Islam to be destroyed and all the muslim children to be sent to real schools and to kill or imprison all the ones that teach hate, violence and intolerance...

You wind up being on the outside, way outside because everyone else is so PC or stupid that they write you off as a nutcase and a racist.

I recieve anywhere from 20 to 50 hate emails a day.

They have tried to trick me into having "secure communications" with them saying that they agree and that we need to work out "plans"...

They must think I'm stupid, I'm not interested in being murdered.

But they are not scaring me off, its too important to see that Islam is destroyed. It is not compatiable with civilization and never will be.

Papa Ray
West Texas

Greg said...

Back in April, I warned the world about Canada's terrorist threat. The brief version is here, the full version is here.

Unknown said...

Argh - Canada in the news again. For the record, the geese are just a big a problem here in Toronto and in case you ask, they stay here year round too. The answer is simple - roast goose, the problem are the bunny huggers.

BTW - I'm glad to see they're a problem in Europe - retaliation for European imports like starlings, zebra mussels, etc.

The Wild Duck said...

I heard that there are Canadian Geese living in the USA as part of a witness protection program.

More on this:

Baron Bodissey said...

Mr. Duck:

Don't be bashful -- make it a link! Like this The Wild Duck.

Folks, it looks like a good blog, even if it is Canadian. Drop by and honk at him.

hank_F_M said...

Many years ago I was at an Army Base when some one jokingly suggested that for weapons qualification we should give every one a shotgun and 5 rounds of ammunition. If they turn in 3 birds they qualify marksman, 4 sharpshooter, 5 expert. A human or family pet is automatic failure. Then some nit picker pointed out you have to qualify on the weapon you will take to combat.

But I think the idea has merit. Work release for prison time, each bird scratches a day of sentence. Instead of the walkathons have a birdatone, supporters pledge 50 cents for each bird a contestant gets. A price reduction for every bird you bring the workplace cafeteria. (it reduces their costs who can tell.) In no time the Canadian Goose population will be small enough to be cute birdies again.

The Wild Duck said...


Thanks for the plug. The Wild Duck, we're told, is an American living in Canada, working in the US, and honking in both directions.

We've enjoyed Gates of Vienna, and will have you added to our linklist in two shakes of a Duck's tail.

While we're mostly writing about the Canadian Federal election underway, we managed to squeeze in a fun little Alito post last night:

"Dear George Bush, I must regret..."

Baron Bodissey said...

Wild Duck --

Yes, Dymphna and I looked in on that post just a little while ago. I also liked the one about the Eco-Guilt entrepreneurs.

We liked the cut of your giblets, so I blogrolled you.