The Bulletin, our ignominious daily newspaper that litters Central Oregon with its classified ads stuffed in plastic bags, now has the audacity to compare the pestiferous, disease-carrying, and destructive alien European starling (Sturnus vulgaris), with our beautiful native Canada goose, (Branta canadensis).
In a recent editorial written by someone who apparently has absolutely no knowledge of alien or native birds, there is a stupid suggestion that it's just fine to kill geese; why not? Starlings are "controlled" the same way.Comparing alien starlings to Canada geese is preposterous. European starlings compete with our native birds for nesting substrate and food. Starlings carry diseases that can affect man and beast. Starlings are not protected by law, and considered one of the worst nuisance species in North America, where it's estimated more than 200 million of the foul creatures reside, causing hundreds of millions of dollars of damage every year.
Native Canada Geese are protected by hunting laws and prized as "game" by millions of waterfowl hunters. When Canada geese are winging their way north and south on their annual migrations, calling in their wild voices, they are enjoyed by millions of people nationwide. The only "problem" they are causing around here is where they poop on the water-guzzling lawns and golf courses.
If the well-meaning people of Bend would stop feeding geese and ducks in Drake Park and other locations there would not be as many waterfowl pooping on the grass - and - if there weren't so many water-gobbling golf courses all over Central Oregon there wouldn't be as many geese riling up people.
One way to cut down the numbers of geese in the Bend parks is to pass a high-priced ordinance against feeding them. The parks people can hire a people-warden with a dog to patrol the parks on a bicycle and cite park-users who feed waterfowl and then train the warden's dog to chase geese. But the best way to solve the goose poop problem is to replace the present overabundance of water and energy- using lawns with creative landscaping and green Astroturf. Geese will not eat Astroturf, therefore they will not stay in the area long enough to poop, especially if there are no handouts - and the geese will be healthier for it. Then the parks department could sell their gas-guzzling grass cutters and put the operators to work patrolling the parks for goose-feeders, and do landscaping. That's bound to save and make money at the same time.
Canada geese are prospering because we have created wonderful artificial habitat for them to reproduce and feed upon. They should not be penalized because we created the problems. But, for the Bulletin to compare starlings to Canada Geese, while the paper's administrators litter the countryside with their classified garbage makes them - in my book - the starlings of the neighborhood.
Editor's note: Jim Anderson contributes a regular column to The Source.