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A Win for the Geese!

Decision to kill Canada geese reversed in Wisconsin

The Humane Society of the United States

  • This family of Canada geese is now safe in Warner Park, Wisconsin. Steve Salt

  • The lives of this pair of Canada geese, flying over Warner Park, were spared. Meagan Porter

by Alyson Bodai

On May 12, 2010, Madison, Wisc. park commissioners decided to halt the kill of Canada geese and study alternatives to lethal methods to control their numbers.

Motivated animal advocates, the power of today’s social media, and HSUS wildlife experts all helped to avert a tragic ending for these geese.

Fowl weather friends

Despite thunderstorms with heavy rain, close to 100 area residents showed up to a hearing on May 12th to oppose the Madison Park Commission’s closed-door decision to round up and kill geese in Warner Park at the request of the Dane County Regional Airport.

The standing-room-only meeting started at 6:30 pm, but it was close to midnight before the agenda item related to the goose kill was up for discussion. Throughout the meeting, Warner Park geese waddled up to the window to peer in on the gathered crowd.

Media outlets interviewed attendees, and lightning required that the TV stations remove their satellite vehicles for safety reasons. Advocates for the geese waited patiently for hours to share their concerns with the Commission.

Once the testimony began, the Commission indicated it would seek more information before taking action on the issue. Requests by the public to explore humane non-lethal alternatives for managing goose conflicts were heard.

Speaking on behalf of The Humane Society of the United States, I joined numerous groups opposed to the killing, including the Madison Audubon Society, Alliance for Animals, University of Wisconsin Environmental Studies faculty, wildlife biologists with expertise on goose behavior, Wild Warner Park representatives, school teachers who use the park’s geese to teach biodiversity concepts to students, and numerous community members—including pilots—who value the Warner Park geese and want to see them protected.

A key speaker was Nathan Phoenix, a Madison, Wisc. resident who was instrumental in researching options and rallying support for humane alternatives. His Facebook group, No Madison Goose Kill, has more than 1,800 members.

The HSUS commends the Madison Park Commission for their decision and has offered city officials the services of the HSUS Urban Wildlife department in implementing effective and humane methods to address any goose conflicts.

Alyson Bodai is Wisconsin State Director for The Humane Society of the United States.

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