By Ken MacQueen - Wednesday, December 12, 2012 - 0 Comments
In conversation with Ken MacQueen
Jim Sterba is a veteran foreign reporter at the Wall Street Journal and one-time war correspondent, but his latest book, Nature Wars, is about insurgency of a different sort: the resurgent population of North American wildlife and the uneasy relationship with its neighbours. Both humans and overabundant populations of deer, bear, goose, beaver, coyote and others have taken to suburban life with sometimes disastrous consequences. “We turned a wildlife comeback miracle into a mess” of fouled parks, deer-vehicle accidents and downed jetliners, he writes. He argues our Disneyfied view of animals has tipped the balance of nature.
Q: I live in British Columbia, where trees are sacred and we love our wildwood creatures. Each has their own special interest group. Yet you say we have too much wildlife.
A: Certain species are over-abundant, like white-tail deer in many parts of the country. Some are just nuisances, like Canada geese. Some are damaging, like beavers. The problem with bears is that people have such an anthropomorphized view of them because they haven’t been around bears a lot, except teddy bears, so when a bear shows up they think, “Oh, it’s a cute little person,” and they throw it a doughnut, or they let it rifle through the garbage can and take its photograph, and the bear begins to associate the smell of people with food, not fear. It’s not the bear’s fault, it’s our fault. Continue…
By Martin Patriquin - Monday, September 12, 2011 at 10:30 AM - 2 Comments
Hoardes of geese are tarnishing Canada’s name south of the border
Americans usually welcome visiting Canadians and their dollars with open arms. Yet every fall there are millions of Canadian tourists whose deposits aren’t nearly as appreciated. We speak, of course, of Branta Canadensis, the handsomely plumed birds best known as Canada geese. The birds, which have begun their yearly jaunt to southern climes, are an increasing nuisance in the U.S. Last year, Americans killed nearly two million Canada geese, including some 2,000 culled in New York City and neighbouring Nassau County. The trouble, according to Americans: the birds are loud, aggressive and dirty. “It’s like a sea of doo-doo,” one seriously put-off Long Islander told the Wall Street Journal recently. “No matter how much you chase them, they come back.”
The problem is getting worse, says McGill wildlife biology professor David Bird, because of a recent explosion in goose populations, the result of conservation efforts and the lack of natural predators in urban and suburban settings. “They’re aggressive,” says the aptly named Bird. “The worst weapon is their wing bone. They flick it, and it’ll break a kid’s forearm.” Such behaviour is tarnishing Canada’s name. “If you talk to Americans, they’ll try to blame this on Canada, but it’s not really true. A lot of geese actually breed in the northern part of the U.S.” A British tabloid dubbed the goose “one of Britain’s most hated birds” and, because the British government is considering lifting a ban on the sale of the meat, even included a recipe to curb the bird’s legendary gaminess. It’s tough to beat this old Canadian recipe, though: stew goose in a pot with assorted spices and a good-sized rock. After 12 hours, discard water and bird, eat the rock.
By Josh Dehaas - Monday, August 30, 2010 at 10:00 AM - 0 Comments
Why a major cull of Canada geese may be a waste of time
On July 8, six wildlife biologists in navy blue U.S. Department of Agriculture T-shirts spent their morning chasing packs of Canada geese around Brooklyn, N.Y.’s Prospect Park. They corralled them with temporary fences and then placed them, three at a time, in turkey cages. The cages were then loaded into a truck and driven to a nearby warehouse where the geese were placed in a special chamber. Carbon dioxide was pumped in. Minutes later, the dead geese were loaded back into the truck, taken to a landfill, and buried.
The process was repeated until all 400 of the park’s resident Canada geese were dead. All that was left, according to joggers who passed through the park later that morning, were feathers floating on the pond.