Chasing a wild goose is a waste of time

Larry Woody • Updated Jul 31, 2013 at 8:27 AM

Back in the spring a buddy and I were fishing on Old Hickory Lake when we observed a Wild Goose Chase in progress.

A homeowner whose expansive lawn extended down to the edge of the lake was chasing wild geese on a riding mower. He would roar toward the flock of 25-30 birds, which would flutter into air, circle around, and light on another part of the lawn. The mower rider would turn around and roar after them again -- and again they’d flush, fly, and re-light.

My fishing buddy and I watched the lake-side comedy for several minutes before puttering on around the bend to our fishing hole. I don’t know how long it took for the goofy goose-chaser to realize that trying to shoo the birds away wasn’t working.

I was reminded of that incident by a recent TV news story about the manager of a city park who found himself mired up to his ankles in goose problems.

He said the geese were causing a health hazard. Their profuse droppings created an unsanitary, bacteria-seething mess on walking paths and in the grass where kids played. When it rained, the runoff carried the filth into the pond.

He devised a clever way to scare away the nuisance geese: he placed life-like coyote decoys around the pond. The fake coyotes frightened away the geese.

As I watched the story, I kept waiting for the reporter to ask the obvious question: “Once you shooed the geese away, where did they go?” The displaced geese didn’t simply vanish into thin air.

Instead, the reporter gushed about how wonderful it was that the park had “solved” its goose problem without harming the birds.

It didn’t solve the problem. It just pushed it off on someone else.

Like the lawnmower rider, the park manager simply shooed the geese from one area to another. They settled into some other city park, golf course, boat dock or lakeside lawn and continued their health-hazard habits.

Canada geese are magnificent, fascinating birds, but like any wildlife species, over-population causes problems, especially in residential areas.

Trapping nuisance geese and transporting them to remote areas is not cost-effective and doesn’t provide a long-term solution to reducing the number of the prolific birds. (As wildlife officials explained to protestors at a Chattanooga college last month who were incensed over some nuisance campus geese being killed.)

Hunting is the most effective and economical way to reduce a goose population. And the harvested geese don’t go to waste – they make delicious table fare.

Given the limited range of shotgun pellets, hunting -- with a bit of commonsense precaution -- can be done safely, even relatively close to public areas.

Shooting geese anywhere, for any reason, is opposed by animal-rights activists, and that goes double for suburban geese. Their suggestion? Shoo, don’t shoot.

They ignore the fact that shooing the birds away simply shoves the problem onto someone else.

It would be poetic justice if one morning the goose-coddlers awoke to find gaggles of displaced geese honking in THEIR backyard and covering THEIR lawn, patio and driveway with goose-droppings. Bet that would really get their gander.

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