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August 14, 2012 / V A Nichols

Federal agency removes geese from Fairhope beach, euthanizes them

Federal agency removes geese from Fairhope beach, euthanizes them

(article and video at above link)

Updated: Tuesday, 14 Aug 2012, 5:56 PM CDT
Published : Tuesday, 14 Aug 2012, 10:50 AM CDT

FAIRHOPE, Ala. (WALA) – Geese — and what they leave behind — have become hot topics at Fairhope Beach. While an environmental board was meeting to find a solution, the city had already taken action and removed some of the geese.

The USDA Wildlife Service removed the geese and a spokesperson with the USDA confirmed the birds were euthanized after their capture.

Forty geese, gone

A Fairhope mystery that had many crying foul finally has some answers.

For the past couple of weeks, something hasn’t smelled right to citizens in Fairhope, who have been asking what happened to a large number of the geese that made their home at the beach in Duck Pond.

As it turns out, 40 of the waterfowl were drugged and captured by federal wildlife officials at the beginning of the August.

Carol Scheider, a self-proclaimed goose whisperer, was devastated by the round up. She told us they broke up breeding pairs.

“Now they left them here alone,” Schneider said. “The people who did this didn’t understand what they were doing.”

For years, increasing numbers of non-migratory geese have called Fairhope Beach home. Over that time, the water has been closed numerous times due to contamination, which an Auburn study blamed on the pound of excrement that each goose produces each day.

“If you’re going to blame the Canada Geese who are they going to take away next? The seagulls? The herons? The ducks?” Schneider protested, “This is crazy!”

Advisory board in the dark

Jim Horner, Chairman of the Environmental Advisory Board, said, “We’ve had members of my board count upwards of 150 geese.”

Horner told us the board had no idea the capture had even occurred. In fact, FOX10 News cameras were at their meeting last week as they discussed possible solutions.

“We had a serious health problem developing, and that’s been the driving force all along,” Horner said.

Horner said the board may have recommended a reduction in the goose population anyway, but they wanted some scientific answers. He said experts could have surveyed the area and decided on what a suitable number of ducks for the area was.

“Now we might disagree what that overpopulation is,” Horner said.

Regardless, 41 of the animals have been removed and euthanized. What comes next remains to be seen



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  1. Mary Castrovilla / Aug 15 2012 10:10 PM

    Will all you journalists out there quit using the term “euthanasia”? What happens to the geese, whether they are gassed or slaughtered is HEINOUS act against GOD and Nature…. Dr. John Hynes, a USDA Accredited Veterinarian in New York and New Jersey, said that “carbon dioxide asphyxiation used by the USDA is an especially cruel process that slowly strangles geese as they struggle to breathe and compete for oxygen.” “Euthanasia” to these and other slaughters, a term that is understood to refer to gentle assisted death in circumstances of terminal injury or illness, and it’s a categorization with which many biologists and veterinarians disagree should be applied to killing healthy animals. Euthanasia means literally a “good death” or “mercy killing,” NOTHING about the killings of Canada Geese COULD BE CONSIDERED “GOOD” OR “MERCIFUL”

    And as far as “passing the buck” among the decision makers, and “NO ONE KNOWS” – sadly Fairhope is not alone in this.

    BUT now it’s time for all you good people, with hearts, souls and conscienes, to see that this doesn’t happen AGAIN.

    • V A Nichols / Aug 15 2012 10:30 PM

      Thanks so much for your comment Mary! I find it sooooo aggravating when the word euthanasia (euthanized) is used improperly!!! In this situation, it is not an honest account of what happened to the geese.

  2. ABS314 / Aug 15 2012 3:09 AM

    Did the city council, mayor and everyone else was involved in this coverup REALLY think they were going to get away with this? I sincerely hope the good citizens of Fairhope stand up for their animal life and to the despicable corrupt politicians at the next township meeting and let them know what they think of their brutal and cruel mishandling of this and throw these clowns out of the office they have clearly shown that they are unfit to have. There were non-lethal, humane, intelligent and MORE SUCCESSFUL ways to manage a goose population than killing than hiring a thug agency like the USDA and their killing arm, Wildlife Services, already targeted for a Congressional 9investigation for corruptness. Your tax dollars paid for this slaughter, they LIED to you, and I would not be the least surprised if the word “kickback” was familliar to your city council.

  3. ABS314 / Aug 15 2012 3:01 AM

    Continuing on the goose dropping health issues, here is what other biologists have to say about the this:

    As for other bacteria, whether or not there has ever been one case of a human contracting something via a goose is a different matter from them being labelled as a health threat and disease carriers. There is extensive research on this, including opinions from the prestigious Center for Disease Control in Atlanta, GA, and Dr. Milton Friend, former director, Wildlife Research Center, Waterfowl Disease, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service:. According to state and university public health experts including the New Jersey Department of Health, GOOSE FECES ARE FAIRLY INNOCUOUS – innocuous, posing little or no health risks to humans.

    Dr. Timothy Ford, professor at the Harvard School of Public Health and author of “Microbiological Safety of Drinking Water: United States and Global Perspective 1999,” states: “Numbers of Cryptosporidium oocysts associated with Canada geese and waterfowl in general are likely to be MINIMAL, UNIMPORTANT RELATIVE TO THE POTENTIAL for oocysts shed from other forms of wildlife and humans. IN MY MIND, THERE IS NO POSSIBILITY THAT THE Canada goose will ever be a major route of infection. To suggest otherwise is utterly ludicrous and you can quote me.”

    David S. Adam, Coordinator of Health Projects, Vector Control, Infectious and Zoonotic Disease Program for the State of New Jersey Department of Health, writes: “Giardia lamblia, as well as Cryptosporidium, is most commonly transmitted to humans by person-to-person fecal-oral contamination or by water fecally contaminated by humans or other mammals. Infection is usually asymptomatic with children infected more frequently than adults, often in the day-care setting. In summary, the role of Canada geese in the transmission of Cryptospordium or Giardia to humans is not well established, but APPEARS TO BE SMALL COMPARED TO OTHER MODES OF TRANSMISSION.”

    Mr. Adams adds that Canada geese have been wrongly blamed for beach closings: “A number of beach closings including several in New Jersey have been attributed to this cause [high fecal coliform counts attributed to Canada geese]. However, research on this subject (including surveillance conducted in New Jersey) has usually found very low levels of pathogenic bacteria such as Salmonella sp. in the feces of waterfowl not exposed to human sewage effluent.” Another false alarm.

    Dr. Milton Friend, former director, Wildlife Research Center Water Fowl Disease U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, is adamant: “On occasion we have been wading in that stuff [feces], dead birds up to our elbows… THERE IS NOT A SINGLE, DOCUMENTED CASE of any of us coming down with any kind of a disease problem as a result of Canada geese… WE DO NOT HAVE A HUMAN HEALTH SITUATION, NOT IN THE URBAN GOOSE, NOT IN THE WILD GOOSE, NOT IN THE CAPTIVE GEESE that we have also worked with. We do have a lot of diseases out there that can affect people. Most of them come from different places and do not come from the Canada goose and I’ll leave you with that.”

    Giardia sp., is common throughout the world. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) report that prevalence is higher in areas of poor sanitation and in institutions where children are not toilet-trained. The CDC lists “institutions and day-care centers as the principle mode of spread. ” Principle reservoirs are listed as “humans, possibly beaver and domestic animals” — GEESE AREN’T EVEN MENTIONED.

    In animals, Crytosporidiosis is found almost exclusively in newborn puppies and kittens. Even then, “there has been no transmission to humans.” (CDC, June 1999.)

    • V A Nichols / Aug 15 2012 10:33 PM

      Wow! Thanks for all of this health information! It’s a amazing read :)

  4. ABS314 / Aug 15 2012 2:58 AM

    Well well well, after all the lies and deceptive sneaking around, the truth finally comes out. And now the city council and mayor will probably try to churn up some story about beach contamination to justify their action.

    First correction: it’s not euthanization when you kill perfectly healthy animals. It’s a slaughter. For geese, the favorite slaughter method of the notorious USDA is gassing. Forget that this method is “approved” by the American Veterinary Asdsociation – these people also think a good way to kill old laying hens is to shove them in a wood chipper. Plenty of veterinarians disagree with many of their recommendations. Gassing for waterfowl is particularly cruel as they are designed to hold their breath longer while dabbling underwaters, hence gassing is prolonged and painful for them, often taking up to 45 minutes for them to essentually burn up from the inside out. We don’t mete out such gruesom deaths for our worst criminal murderers and animal shelters across the country are banning death by gas as inhumane. The very act of a round up – separating mated pairs and devoted parents of geese – is traumatic and heartless, as geese are among the most family-oriented of animals. What did these animals do to deserve to have their lives destroyed like this? Oh, they poop.

    Fine. let’s discuss how dangerous goose poop really is. Regarding the one pound per goose per day of droppings, it’s actually under a pound: “In a study conducted by Dr. Bruce Manny, research fishery biologist with the U.S. Geological Survey, the average goose produces 0.3432 pounds (5.49 ounces) of wet droppings per day. At 21.04 percent solids in the average goose dropping, this amount of wet droppings is equivalent to 0….0722 pounds (1.15 ounces) of dry droppings per day.”

    As to the health risks – this is from research in the Great Lakes area who studied E. coli allegedly from geese:

    The logic of the geese contaminating the lake/beach areas with E.coli is completely unsubstantiated. E. coli very likely is more a problem with people passing waste in the lakes, not the geese. The fact is, no one really knows where the E. coli in the Great Lakes area is coming from, as The Duluth MN News Tribune had reported as far back as 2006 that the bacteria that has forced the closure of many Great Lakes beaches in recent years may not be coming from people, geese, diapers or sewage spills after all, but that it may in fact, be from the sand.
    A Central Michigan University report published in the Journal of Great Lakes Research confirms that E. coli can live and thrive in beach sand without a warm-blooded host. It has been widely believed that E. coli could come only from the guts of warm-blooded animals, and that, if found in the environment, there must have been a recent source of excrement from one of those animals. While not necessarily a threat to human health, E. coli has been used as an indicator of other pathogens in the excrement, such as viruses, that could make people ill.

    But Elizabeth Alm, a Central Michigan University microbiologist, says E. coli is growing in Lake Huron sand with no contribution of fecal matter from people, birds or animals. E. coli even survived winter in the sand and during summer expanded to high numbers for several weeks with no new source, Alm found in her research. “The source of these bacteria may be resident in the sand,” Alm reported.

    The finding means scientists and public health officials need to find a new indicator for harmful pathogens in the water, Alm and others say. It also could mean that more dangerous organisms may be thriving in the sand.

    “Geese and gulls and diapers may still be sources of some fecal matter and some E. coli, but we clearly can have E. coli without any of them,” Alm said. “We need to do a lot more research to see what else may be naturalized in the sand.”

    It’s not clear what the original source of the sand-dwelling bacteria was, or even if there was an outside source.

    The findings echo research in the Twin Ports by University of Minnesota-Duluth biologist Randall Hicks. Hicks, who is using DNA fingerprints to trace the sources of local bacteria, has found in recent summers that bacteria seemed to be naturalizing in the sand and sediment of the harbor.

    Wind and waves are the culprits that disrupt the bacteria in the sand and bring it in contact with people. Beach monitoring programs then pick it up in water samples and post beaches as closed. That’s happening every summer now along the waterfront of the Duluth-Superior harbor where E. coli problems are chronic and some waterfront areas remain posted most of the summer for people to stay away.

    “They (bacteria) seem to do just fine in the sand and sediment, out of the sunlight, if nothing disturbs them. We don’t know how long they’ve been down there or how they got started,” said Heidi Bauman, who leads the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency’s Lake Superior beach monitoring program. “It backs up what they found in Chicago recently where the bacteria in the sand were higher than in the water. So they dug out the sand and brought in new sand and within a few weeks the bacteria levels were right back up.”

    Alm’s tests on Lake Huron were conducted in the “swash” area where waves wash onto the sand — also the area where people have the most contact with sand and water.

    “It means we’re going to have to come up with a better way of determining if the water is safe or not,” Alm said. “Right now, though, E. coli is the best indicator we have.”

    What that means is that you will kill the geese and STILL have an E.coli problem because it isn’t coming from the geese.

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