THE GEESE OF SILVER LAKE
The history of the geese of Silver Lake is beautifully narrated in this brilliant photo journal by acclaimed photographer Craig Blacklock.
A GIFT FOR SADIA
Marie Fritz Perry
Will Sadia ever learn to speak English and feel at home in Rochester, Minnesota now that her family has left her homeland of Somalia? Maybe the friendship of a wounded Canada goose can help.
"You'll absolutely love this story. We did!" Love Canada Geese
Rochester artist Mr. Gary Blum creates original art from goose poop. We couldn't resist them and bought three different signed and framed pieces.
June 28, 2003
The U.S. Supreme Court issued rulings this week in favor of two groups -- ethnic minorities and homosexuals -- that have been forced to overcome a lot of discrimination in our country's recent history.
I'll leave comment on those decisions to legal experts, political pundits and radio talk show hosts. Instead, I'd like to address a third persecuted group, under fire from folks all over the country who'd like to see them "go back to where they came from and stay there."
In recent years, these individuals have been subjected to everything from forced birth control to prison camps and beheading -- right here in our own country.
I'm talking about giant Canada geese. On Wednesday, the Wall Street Journal published a front-page story about what communities are doing to deal with a growing resident goose population.
I emphasize the word resident. It seems that folks don't have much of a beef with transient geese that stop by at the local lake for a day or a month in the fall or winter and vamoose in early spring. What gets their gander are those trashy locals who've not only taken it upon themselves to move in and stay year-round, but soil our sidewalks and -- worst of all -- raise another crop of good-for-nothin' young 'uns every spring.
It's entirely possible the Supreme Court will eventually have to get involved in this discrimination-related fracas, too.
Until now, it's been difficult for cities to control local goose populations because doing so requires a federal permit. Geese are considered migratory birds, and they're covered under a 1916 treaty designed to protect them from the mass slaughter that befell passenger pigeons and other species. But, according to the Wall Street Journal, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service plans next year to do away with the permitting process and allow state authorities to assassinate non-migrating geese whenever they see fit.
The federal agency has indicated it would like to see the number of year-round urban geese -- now estimated at between 3.5 million and 5 million -- reduced by about a million. It contends local geesearen't covered by the 1916 treaty because they don't migrate.
The Humane Society of the United States has objected to the plan, calling it "mass murder," according to the Journal. So you can bet there's a court fight ahead.
Giant Canada geese have been an integral part of Rochester's recent history. An estimated 30,000 to 40,000 of the critters annually winter here after breeding and raising their families on the tundra of northern Manitoba. They like it here because of a giant hot tub called Silver Lake that stays open year-round.
But here is a little-known fact about Rochester's geese. The 2,000 or 3,000 honkers you see waddling around the lake with gangly gray teenagers right now are not year-round locals.
Minnesota Department of Natural Resources acting regional manager Don Nelson says most of them are transients who arrive here about the time our Manitoban visitors set sail in the spring. They stay until October or November, when they pack up and move to Missouri or Arkansas.
Because they really do migrate, it's unlikely Rochester's summer geese will ever be subjected to mass roundups and execution. It's doubtful that would happen, anyway. Although we might grumble about our geese and their inability to clean up after themselves, we put up with them.
Rochester Park and Recreation Superintendent Roy Sutherland says he doesn't get more than one or two complaints a year from people annoyed by them.
Nor does the DNR get many complaints, says Nelson. "In a way that's sort of surprising. People in Rochester are amazingly tolerant of them."
There's something comforting about that.
Greg Sellnow's columns appear Tuesdays and Saturdays. He can be reached at 285-7703 or by e-mail at email@example.com.
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