Chirps and Cheeps

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  Epitaph to a Ross's Goose

Published: January 15, 2015
Tags: General Observations, Ross's Goose, Beaver Island State Park, Grand Island, hunting, DEC

I was shocked and saddened to learn that a local rarity, a Ross's Goose, was shot and killed by a hunter this past weekend. The goose had been attracting birders from around the Western New York area for over a month due to its rare status and its tame nature. The young goose had little fear of humans and was successfully eeking out its existence in the harsh, winter conditions at Beaver Island State Park on Grand Island, NY.

I can't imagine what went through the hunter's mind as he put the little guy into his sights and squeezed that trigger.  Was it a testosterone rush of killing a defenseless, living creature?  Was this a rare and "prized" goose for his collection?  Will he mount it and proudly display it?  Did he have some perverse pleasure in destroying something the birding community was enjoying?

I know it's legal and, in some cases, even serves some conservation purposes, but I am not a fan of hunting; I can't even fathom how hunting is called a sport. To me, a sport is something where equally matched contestants compete. Give a goose or deer a gun, teach it how to kill a human, and then release it into a field with a hunter, and NOW we've got a sport.  Otherwise, it's just a poor, unfortunate creature getting blasted by someone who enjoys killing.

I have no problem with a person using a gun to put food on their table - or the DEC euthanizing invasive or over-numbered species for conservation purposes. Either is another story.  But, for the most part, my opinion is, give a person a gun and they're going to want to kill something.  Anything.  If it were legal, more people would be shot than there already are. But I guess that's what the military is for...

I was also bothered to learn that hunters are "stalking" our Facebook page for information on birds in the area. They even are/were sharing photos of the ducks they were hunting. It has made me more aware of the dangers of posting bird locations to the public and I will be sure to be even more cautious than I already was. I'm quite sure eBird is being used for that purpose as well.  It's disheartening.

I don't think there are enough DEC resources to patrol and enforce illegal hunting as I witnessed first-hand when I saw a hunter shoot and leave to die a Bonaparte's Gull in the Dunkirk Harbor.  The hunters were in a blind on land and were supposed to be on the water.  We called the DEC but they merely came and "talked" to the guys.  It was an "accident", is what they were told and nothing was done.  A friend of mine called the DEC when a Tundra or Trumpeter Swan was shot at. Nothing was done in that instance either. A Razorbill, an alcid (web-footed diving bird normally found on the sea), was a wonderful sighting for birders - but he was shot 3 years ago on the Niagara River.  These are just a few instances that I know about; I can't imagine how many more out-and-out violations or mis-identifications occur every day.

That is my rant.  I'm sad the little goose is no longer living, giving joy to the many folks who appreciated his beauty and rarity. We'll never know if he would have been loyal to this location in subsequent years, either - a potentially interesting scientific data point.

Below are a few photos I took when visiting the goose on a couple of occasions.  In memoriam, little guy; we'll miss you...

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Ross's Goose - Nov 26

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Ross's Goose - Nov 26

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Ross's Goose - Dec 08

Reply from: Dana Kalir on 1/15/2015 1:50 PM
 Sue, just wanted to let you know I agree with you completely and share you frustration and sadness. I didn't realize hunters use FB posts to locate potential pray locations. I will stop posting locations of my sightings from now on.
Reply from: John Pensyl on 1/16/2015 9:19 AM
 It may upset you but hunters are part of the birding community. For 305 days a year we help conserve, protect and build habitat and for 60 days a year we are predators. The instances you described are not ok and the waterfowl in community are the first ones to blow the whistle on people who don't respect the resource.
Reply from: John Wilkinson on 1/16/2015 11:38 AM
 You have no problems with hunters putting food on the table, yet you're upset that someone has done just that? The Christmas goose must have been a fairy tale all these years growing up...
Reply from: Amanda Dunbar on 1/16/2015 3:35 PM
 I enjoy your blog, but I do think it is very narrow-minded of you to believe that you can monopolize Mothers Nature's resources. Hobbyists, hunters, outdoor enthusiasts, and nature itself all have equal entitlements to her bounty
Reply from: Sandra McNair on 1/16/2015 3:45 PM
 My son is in a wheelchair and has trouble with kids at school because of his disability. Once word got out, a local waterfowl organization stepped up and made a huge effort to become a part of his life. For an outside group to take an interest in my son and make him feel a part of something was a true emotional experience as a mother. As a non-hunter myself, I am hurt to see people demonize sportsmen in such a manner. This waterfowl group is just one of many that I'm sure does their part in helping their communities and supporting wildlife projects. Please have an open mind and be compassionate towards others and their interests.
Reply from: John Driscoll on 1/16/2015 3:50 PM
 Your comment that "hunters are using websites as prey locations" is merely speculation and ill-founded.
Reply from: Fred Derrek on 1/16/2015 6:48 PM
 You make comments about hunters misidentifying birds and taking non-target species. In this instance, a hunter properly identified and harvested a legal species. I don't see what the problem is?
Reply from: Sue on 1/16/2015 9:50 PM
 Thanks, everyone, for your comments. I will read them all (again) and consider your views. I appreciate your input and am sorry I have such a jaded view - especially now - but this was a huge disappointment to many in the community.
Reply from: Dan O on 1/17/2015 7:59 AM
 Sue, I do understand that you are a birdwatcher and you appreciate watching birds for sport. You need to be appreciative of conservationists (hunters) whom control the population of species of waterfowl. I would like to educate you on a few aspecs of waterfowling. 1) every hunter pays for a state and federal waterfowl stamp in order to legally hunt. This money goes back into the state and nations funds to restore or improve waterfowl habit it. 2) hunters have a certain harvest limit for certain species. The more abundant species we have a higher bag limit for. 3) Ross' geese, and snow geese are a nuisances due to them destroying the tundra (canada) in there breeding grounds due to the overpopulation. Sue I don't have any intentions of bashing you, all I ask is please look at the big picture with all contributing factors. Hunters not only enjoy the "sport" but also the table fare. Are you telling me that you are a vegatarian? Otherwise the food you eat are commingle from slaughter houses. Everyone has a hobby. Some bird watch, some golf, some do drugs, some drink beer, and some enjoy spending time in natures beauty and enjoying nature while providing food for their families.
Reply from: Duck Daddy on 1/17/2015 9:04 AM
 I would do the same I'm a waterfowler and I love it I love waterfowl as much as I love to shoot them but that's a bird in a life time for some people so go him good job buddy! Y'all don't own the bird he shot it fair and square end of discussion. Y'all don't own the bird so try bashing hunters all you want but it's not gonna do anything it's actually pathetic.
Reply from: shelley on 1/28/2015 6:16 PM
 i share your passion, your grief, and disgust ... so many of them kill simply because they can.. and the fact that they are trolling rare bird pages shows what little people... without compassion they really are .

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