After 15 years of putting up with an ever-growing population of Canadian geese, Denver has had quite enough. The city is taking some drastic measures to deal with these legally protected birds: starting this month, they are going to start rounding up and slaughtering geese in droves, halving the city’s goose population and using their bird-flesh to feed the city’s poor.
It’s an initiative that will effectively kill two birds with one stone. And, according to the City, it’s going to make life around Denver a lot more enjoyable.
For people, that is.
“We get so many complaints about people coming out here with a blanket to sit on the grass, and they cannot sit on the grass because there's so much goose poop in the parks," Scott Gilmore, deputy executive director of Denver Parks and Recreation, told KDVR.
There are an estimated 5,000 geese living in Denver, on the streets and in the parks. A Canadian goose can consume up to four pounds of grass a day, equating to about three pounds of goose poop per goose, per day. That means that something like 15,000 pounds of crap is being dropped on Denver every day by these birds.
On top of that, geese, if you were unaware, can be total dicks. They are extremely territorial creatures, that are not afraid to come at a human like a drunk Irishman looking for a fight. They can’t kill you (or, at least, I couldn’t find an instance of a goose attack that was actually fatal). But in 2014, one China-man was attacked by two geese that nearly did him in.
“I didn’t know what was happening at first. There was a tremendous hissing and then they came straight at me,” said Lu Chen, describing the traumatic event. “I tried to scare them off, but they just kept coming. They managed to knock me down in the river and I am sure they were trying to drown me. I just couldn’t get them away.”
There are photos of Chen’s goose-assault. And yes, they are as hilarious as you are imagining.
Anyway, in Denver these kinds of avian-aggressions and human-goose conflicts have reached an all-time high. Between a swelling population of people and an explosive population of geese it was inevitable.
This goose roundup was (perhaps obviously) not the Parks and Recreation division’s first attempt to handle the problem. Over the years they have tried coating goose eggs in corn oil to prevent fetal development, they have tried wildlife repellants, they even tried scaring the birds away with a remote-control device called the “Goosinator.”
But nothing worked. The birds kept multiplying and the situation was becoming dire. City officials realized that they needed to take their goose-control-program a step further, before tragedy struck.
So, starting in Washington park, the City of Denver is going on a goose-purge. A holocaust of sorts, rounding up geese across the city and shipping them off to the executioner’s block. They plan on killing off about half of their 5,000 geese this year, between June and July — the time of year when geese molt and are at their most vulnerable. They cannot fly while molting, making them extremely easy targets for the City’s “roundups” — they’ll be sitting geese.
And what of all that goose-meat? Geese are good eating. It would be a shame to let 2,500 geese just go to waste…
Which is exactly why the City plans on using that meat to feed Denver’s needy families. They’re turning their goose problem into a goose dinner.
But wait – aren’t Canadian geese protected by the Migratory Birds Act of 1917?
Why, yes, in fact, they are. But that’s not going to save a single feather on their little heads. As the Denvergov.org site says, “Denver Parks and Recreation (DPR) has received authorization from both the state and federal government to manage its goose population via roundups.”
It seems that there is no hope for Denver’s geese. The hunt is officially on and there’s no stopping it now.
Naturally, there are many who feel outraged at the idea of slaughtering thousands and thousands of local protected birds and serving their greasy flesh to the homeless and poor. They argue that the “feed the poor” bit is just a feel-good sales pitch from the City, who couldn’t give a shit what actually happens to all that goose meat. All they really want is blood… goose blood.
It’s a bad time to be goose in Denver. Though, not such a horrible one to be poor and hungry.