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July 1, 2012 / V A Nichols

Is what ‘might’ happen, justification for killing geese? – local man speaks out

Mr. Wood sent the following ‘letter to the editor’ to the Birmingham News on June 26, 2012. Unsure as to whether the letter would be published, it is shared here with his permission.


Dear Sirs and Mesdames:

This is going to be a bit of a long letter and it is going to be obviously against your editorial policy so I despair of ever seeing it in print in the paper…….but what I have to say/write needs to be said/written.   One would think that a newspaper would champion what I have to say and would have the courage to stand up for what I have to say but it is obvious that The Birmingham News is not cut out for that sort of thing…….and perhaps that will grant us some understanding of why the paper is on a down-hill slide.    At the outset, I promise you I will begin and end this letter with a Shakespearean quote…..slightly modified to fit the situation here.

    There’s something rotten in the state of Birmingham, Alabama!   (That’s your beginning quote.) Someone has mounted a very obvious public relations campaign to get the citizens of this area used to the idea that the USDA in concert with the Birmingham Airport authorities is going to again round up a large number of Canada geese and other birds from the local parks and take them to a processing plant where they will be gassed.   These are nice words used to pass to us the meaning of the words “slaughter” and “butcher” but this campaign doesn’t like to use such words very much; deeming them to be a bit too intense or graphic for the public to swallow whole.

Let’s see; specifically there was (1) a long article in the paper on June 10, 2012 telling us about the impending extermination in some detail.   Then (2) There was a short blurb in the paper on June 22, 2012 just to remind us that the extermination was in the works and we could look for it soon.    Then (3) in the Sunday paper of June 24th, the outdoorsman, Mr. Bolton, just happened to write a very timely article about what a nuisance Canada Geese are to him and how sorry he was that there were laws that kept him from shooting those around his house, which he would gladly do, otherwise.   Also (4) over the June 24th weekend we were struck by the beautiful smiling face of Shanisty Meyers of Ch 42 news telling us about the fact that the local parks “have a “fowl” problem” with their goose and other birds populations so the poor birds would have to be “processed” fairly soon.   Mind you, she said it would be done with a “heavy heart” as if somehow that made it ok to do.   In addition (5) there was an interview with a former president of the local Audubon Society who said that as long as the birds were quietly rounded up and humanely gassed that “that wouldn’t be so bad” as long as they had to be killed anyway.   I could not believe my ears that such a verbal betrayal was sent out to the watchers of that TV station!!!    And, finally, there was (6) the absolute echo of silence from the Birmingham News who refused to come out against the extermination of these birds!!!   If all that isn’t a planned and executed public relations campaign, then I don’t know what is.

We need to consider as much as we can of this entire situation and the first thing to think about is the fact that throughout the entire length and breadth of human history the atavistic streak in human beings has come to the fore and prompted humans to slaughter wildlife to an incredible extent;  the Dodo bird is extinct, the Carrier Pigeon is extinct, the Auk of the North Atlantic is extinct, I believe.   There is a mountain pass in Pennsylvania and through it during migrations all manner of hawks and eagles are funneled……flying slowly through it as they do.   It was considered great sport to sit on the side of the pass and use those magnificent birds for target practice in a slaughter that would turn the stomach of any thoughtful human being.   That slaughter was finally outlawed.   The American Bison was almost removed from the face of the earth and when it was slaughtered the hunters took only the tongue, the hump and the skin…..the rest was left to rot……by the thousands.   And why was all this done??    What it all came down to was that they were there and they could be killed and killed easily…….so they were.

I say that we have the same situation with the Canada geese and other birds in the local parks……they are there, they can be rounded up and killed easily… that is exactly what will happen to them.    If you ask the goose haters why they so want to kill Canada Geese they never can really come up with a very good reason……it seems that the main source of aggravation is the fact that the geese pass a lot of feces and the goose haters don’t like to step in it……..Poor Babies!!!   My response to that is “Hose your shoes off and consider yourself to have been blessed by God himself and get over it!!!”   It just ain’t that big a deal!!!   But, humans do simply like to kill:  it is the same sort of mentality seen in young men who purposely steer their car to kill turtles trying to cross the road…….and then laugh loudly about it and call it “Turtle Popping” ……..or “Squirrel Hunting” as the case may be.

Now we must think about the fact that government agents have given two main reasons for exterminating the geese; First the basic reason given is that “humans are more important than animals”  and the second reason is that “The FAA has placed the responsibility for aircraft and jet engine safety upon the airports themselves.”     Well, that sure does sound good…..but one must remember how government agencies work;  they show up; they say they are there for your benefit; they puff out their chests and tell you again that they are there to help you and that  what they do will contribute to your welfare……it is all for you and they don’t get a thing out of it….they are just doing their job.    And then, those same government agencies commit unspeakable crimes and do horrible things.    That’s simply the way they work…….they say it is for you……but it is really for them.

    Let’s look at the first bit that “humans are more important than animals”; if this were a true statement, I think it would be easy to find that humans are more noble than animals.   But, a very little amount of examination shows this to be untrue; I have never yet heard of a Canada Goose that killed its grandmother to get money to buy crack cocaine….but in humans here lately it has become almost an epidemic.    You’ve got to understand the niceties of this;   to humans who believe that humans are more important than animals, it is true to those humans…….but, in the overall grand scheme of life upon this earth over the millions of years life has existed, who is to say that humans are more important than animals???  I don’t buy it for a second.   And I certainly don’t buy it as a valid reason to slaughter Canada geese and other birds.    All that a Canada goose wants is to be left alone…….all they eat is grass, for goodness sake, and what they may find in the water……and they are some of the most magnificent, beautiful, unhurtful, kind and gracious animals on the face of this earth and easily tamed to human company so we may benefit from that company. (I know they protect their nests and young….so what??!!)   And, yet, somehow, just looking at them provokes some people to kill them out of hand!!!

Let’s look at the second reason given:  that the responsibility for the safety of the aircraft and crew and passengers lies with the US Department of Agriculture and the Airport authorities themselves.    They must somehow bear the responsibility for the fact that a bird might fly into a low flying aircraft or its engine and thus bring the plane down with resultant damage and death and injury.   It “might” happen…… has happened in some places…….but you correct me if I am wrong;  in the 110 years of mechanical flight history in this world it has never happened in Birmingham, Alabama…….but it “might” happen……so we’ve got to slaughter a whole bunch of innocent geese and other birds……mothers, fathers, children…….whole families……because of what “might” happen.    And, Hey!, it sounds good:   Look what we’re doing for you; we’re saving you from a plane crash that “might” happen…….We’re doing it for you and your benefit!!!!   You should be grateful!!!    Look at the Goose poop steppers, they are all for it!!!!   “Kill them Geese!!!!”

Just for the sake of argument, lets carry this reasoning a bit further;   It “might” happen that a dog owner will trip over his or her pet and fall and hit their head and kill or badly injure themself.   And, certainly, the Birmingham Police Department is responsible for the safety of the citizens of Birmingham.   Accordingly, I think it only fair that the police go door to door and round-up all dogs in the city and take them to a processor for extermination and the meat from this effort could be then donated to soup kitchens to feed the poor………wouldn’t that be wonderful???    And, it would certainly keep from happening an accidental tripping that “might” happen.

Let’s take this reasoning just one step further:   It is a pretty sure bet that at least one of the children alive today in the city of Birmingham will grow up to murder others and to kill their grandmother for money to buy crack cocaine;  It “might” happen!!!   So, let’s make sure it doesn’t happen;   The Birmingham police can go door to door and round-up all children under the age of five years and take them to a processing station where they can be gassed and processed and the meat (tender from young children) will be distributed to soup kitchens to feed the poor!!!   Isn’t that a grand idea…….and then, we can keep from happening what “might” happen if those children are left alive!!!   Think about it!!!

And here is something more to consider;  look into the future and see the time when all these Canada geese and other birds, in the thousands and thousands, have been wantonly slaughtered in the name of preventing what “might” happen in city after city in this great and wonderful country of ours…..and I want you to tell me now;  what will the Airport authorities and the leaders of the US Dept of Agriculture say when after all this slaughter, an aircraft is brought down by a single bird strike with great loss of life and great damage.

A bird strike caused by a single bird that somehow survived all the rounding up and slaughtering.   What will they say???   They will have already earned their money………they did what they could…..they did what they were directed to do……It ain’t their fault, right???   ” We did the best we could!! ” is exactly what you will hear over and over again………and on the one hand you will have a plane load of human corpses and on the other hand you will have an incredible number of dead birds and all to what purpose????    You tell me!!!!

This whole business is a terrible crime; is absolutely wrong and is a blot upon human civilization and for nobody to say it “Nay!!!” is not to be countenenced by any person of intelligence and wisdom.    It must not stand that these innocent animals are slaughtered!!!

Finally…….or……..almost finally; we must look at the real problem.   The real problem is not the birds, nor the USDA, nor the Airport authorities;…..the real problem is that placing the responsibility for aircraft safety upon the USDA or the Airport authorities is to misplace that responsibility entirely.   Only a damn fool would expect aircraft to ever be safe from bird strikes…….which is another reason to not kill birds……it simply doesn’t work to kill birds to keep aircraft safe from bird strikes.    So, what must we do???   We must do what any thoughtful person would do;  we must place the responsibility for providing safety from bird strikes right where it belongs;  squarely upon the manufacturers of aircraft and aircraft engines!!!

If you are going to build an aircraft and market it to the world and that aircraft and its engines cannot withstand a bird strike, then it is you, the manufacturer, that is absolutely responsible for the resulting deaths and damages.    We might sue the bird itself but it would have a remarkably small estate and not be worth the effort.   And, in this tremendously technically advanced civilization of ours, that can put men on the moon, do not tell me that we cannot do it and don’t whine and weasle that it would be too expensive.    I say that it is both possible and absolutely necessary that the manufacturing giants of our world put their damn minds to work on this problem and start building aircraft and aircraft engines that are built proof against bird strikes.   There must be methods.   There must be mechanisms.  There must be ways to direct airflow to engines so that a bird strike will not cripple an engine.    And, I predict that when such problems are addressed and overcome; what we will see will be almost a miracle of simplicity and intelligence.

Of course, I might be wrong……the damn fools at NASA insisted upon building a craft with the engine beside the crew instead of under the crew and how many did they kill with that wonderful invention???   And all the while insisting upon keeping it flying!!!

Now, finally for sure, we have one thing left to address.   And, I promised to end this letter with a Shakespearean quote, did I not???    Finally, in the matter of the US Dept of Agriculture and the Airport authorities across the country:  A pox, on both your houses!!!   A pox!!!     You have made worm’s meat of some of the finest, most beautiful, most wonderful animals upon the face of this earth!!!   You have sinned against the birds and man and God himself and for all that,  it is my sincere hope that you receive your just deserts!!!

I thank you for reading this……..and I remain,

Yours truly,

Gregory S. Wood


One Comment

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  1. ABS314 / Aug 14 2012 2:04 PM

    Outstanding editorial letter and one that very clearly addresses the issue. THIS is the person who should be mayor of this town, not the guy hiding under the table refusing to comment on what he and city council secretly did.

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