So, in the wake of the “Miracle on the Hudson”, my fair city has announced that it will kill up to 2,000 Canada Geese as part of an effort to prevent bird strikes.
Now, on the one hand, these are Canada Geese. There is no shortage. This isn’t the first time that geese have been rounded up from the vicinity of the airports and done away with, and it probably won’t be the last, and the Canada Goose as a species will keep right on truckin’.
On the other hand, these are Canada Geese. There is no shortage, because Canada Geese, while not quite as rampant k-strategists as House Sparrows, are fast-maturing and prolific. This means that when you kill a Canada Goose, you’re merely opening up space for a whole new Canada Goose, potentially creating a vicious cycle where you just end up killing more and more. Controlling habitat is the only possible way to reduce their numbers in a given area permanently, but when it comes to Branta canadensis, habitat means water and grass. Human landscaping habits, from golf courses to public parks to office developments and yes, sometimes even airports, have made the Canada Goose the success it is today.
The news articles I’ve found on the subject hint at some efforts to modify the landscape to discourage the geese, and it may be that the cull is the focus only because dead geese make for better headlines than filling in ditches and pits. But water near airports is a fact of life here, and it’s not like lawns are about to go anywhere. Further, migratory geese like the ones that caused the Hudson crash are not going to be affected by this action at all, since they’re off molting somewhere else.
All I can say is, I sincerely hope that this action is based on sound science and calm discussion that points to it actually improving airport safety, and not just in the short term. It would be a pity for anything, even a Canada Goose, to be killed just so the government can look like it’s Doing Something About It ™. We’ve had quite enough of that already.