Last spring, Hanna and I had lots of fun on gosling spotting on our frequent walks along the Charles esplanade. As April came to a close and we cruised into May, we were looking forward to more baby geeses! Except . . . none were to be found. We were confused. Had we forgotten when the hatchlings appeared? We were worried. Was some virus wiping out the populations of Canadian geese? Except we saw plenty of adult geese and adult ducks all over the city, so some sort of bird pandemic didn’t seem to be the case.
Then, finally, we stumbled onto the answer in a Boston Globe article. Among the tactics city officials are using to keep the goose population down is an effort to keep eggs from hatching by coating them in corn oil, which according to the Canada Goose Hall of Shame website is called “egg addling” and is considered by many animal rights organizations to be a favorable alternative than slaughter or gassing. Which, okay, I can kinda buy. But after a couple of weeks of stewing about the story Hanna and I keep coming back to it and feeling peeved. It seems stingy of us humans to aggressively control the population of birds in our public parks just because we don’t like walking in bird poo; the geese have a right to enjoy our green spaces as much as we do! And while I’m, you know, for family planning I’m not for coercive population control measures — don’t geese have reproductive rights too? And don’t those reproductive rights include not having their eggs destroyed without their consent? I ask this sort of tongue-in-cheek, but not entirely . . . how are we as feminists committed to reproductive rights and justice to think about population control of non-human species?
Ah, the Canadian Geese issue. Part of the reason we have so many is that hunting has been banned b/c they were almost decimated during the last century. They have repopulated with a vengeance. Egg addling (where it’s legal) is one of the few controls now that we’ve eliminated ourselves as predators.
And yes, while goose refuse is nasty, a larger problem is that geese are very territorial and aggressive birds. They will attack people and they can do some damage.
From a feminist perspective, I’m somewhat at a loss when it comes to these geese. The current situation is the result of human actions at several points in history. We over-hunted, we banned hunting (although occasionally a state dnr will sponsor a controlled hunt), and now we have more federally protected Canadian Geese than we know what to do with. All around, this probably counts as a major conservation FAIL.