Euthanizing geese wrong in Gaston County

Oct. 26, 2013 @ 10:05 PM

A large flock of Canada Geese took up residence at Dallas Park in Gaston County.

Rebecca Duffeck used to visit them nearly every day.  In June of this year, she went to see her beloved geese. To her astonishment, no geese were there.  Instead, hundreds of geese feathers lined the banks of a lake.

She soon found out that they had been euthanized.  This was done under the direction of Gaston Parks Director Cathy Hart.

"I was sick on my stomach," Duffeck said. “I have taken care of these geese and loved these geese for so many years and it broke my heart to find out she had actually gassed them.”

One-hundred-forty-four geese were killed.

Hart said the decision to euthanize the birds came after years of complaints by visitors. Park officials were worried about health issues. She applied for a federal permit before taking action.   

"Each goose has waste of a pound and a half a day,"  Hart said. “And when you add that up with the total geese we are dealing with that's 200 pounds of waste a day.”

Hart regretted having to kill the geese.   "We tried chemical repellents that would supposedly repel the geese with smell," Hart said. ”We tried growing the grass tall around the lake. We tried harassing them with dogs.”

Nothing worked.  The geese stayed.

"It is a park. Look at it now.  What is it now?” Duffeck said. “Nothing. It is empty. It has no character. Parks should have animals,"

The Charlotte Observer reported that Carolina Waterfowl Rescue posted a message on its Facebook page saying it offered to help the county with removing the geese, but the birds were killed instead.

This action caused consternation by people in the area.   A group of dissidents asked the Humane Society of Eastern North Carolina to investigate, The society reported that Hart was ready to kill the birds as soon as they could get U.S. Department of Agriculture Wildlife Services to come to the park.

So the protesting group collected 5,000 signatures of people who objected to the killing of the geese.  They will take these signatures to the Gaston County commissioners and ask that Hart be fired.

When this story was published in June, the reaction on the Internet was that 90 percent strongly disagreed with the killing of the geese.  

Here are a few comments:

 “What kind of message is this sending to our young people? That it's OK to kill something because it annoys you or makes a mess?”

“This attitude disgusts me. I know that geese and ducks are a problem in parks, but if humans wouldn't feed them or leave their trash laying around, the problem wouldn't get out of hand!” 

“Who are we as humans that we can decide whether an animal lives or dies? Dogs, Cats, Geese, not wanted, get rid of them! This makes me incredibly ANGRY. All people care about is money and ‘looking pretty.’”

A minority opinion:   “They are disgusting, unhealthy, unsanitary, unclean, unsafe and vicious creatures to boot. Let's worry about our children playing in that park under such conditions rather than worrying about the euthanization of a few of them.”

There are many areas where Canada Geese have moved into parks, golf courses and communities.  What should be done if the community does not want them?  We should learn more about them, study their habits, research the problem.  We should get the community to pitch in  – to join together to deal with the geese.  It should not be decided by only one person.

"The greatness of a nation and its moral progress can be judged by the way its animals are treated."

-Gandhi