Often when we hear that a city is planning a round-up and slaughter of Canada geese, community leaders are quick to inform us that they plan to donate the meat from the slaughtered geese to food banks. Saying this appears to appease many people who might otherwise be opposed to the round-up and slaughter. However, does this really happen?
There is very little information available on reported contaminated goose meat because the cost of testing and processing the goose meat for donation to food banks comes out of the community's budget, i.e. taxpayers pocket. Rather than incur an unnecessary added expense, most community leaders chose to have the geese buried in a landfill.
1. Typically, those who frequent food pantries can't afford the services of a doctor when they become ill. Consequently, if sickened by environmental toxins in goose meat, the cause of illness goes undetected and unreported. Therefore, it is impossible to know how many poverty-stricken people may be suffering from maladies as a result of environmentally contaminated goose meat.
2. Do the impoverished, who consume goose meat at food pantries, know if they suffer from a compromised immune system? Compromised immune systems render this segment of the population most vulnerable to the effects of environmentally contaminated goose meat
3. Do food pantry operators keep track of how much goose meat is consumed by pregnant women, children and those with compromised immune systems? The government recommends that this segment of the population limit their intake of wild goose meat.
4. How do we know that the government’s safety level standards for ingesting environmental toxins through the consumption of Canada goose meat are set high enough to help insure any health risk is non-existent or at the very least, near non-existent? There are no available, long-term studies conducted on those who have consumed Canada goose meat over a long period of time.
5. Is it better to err on the side of caution rather than risk the health of just one person who could suffer the consequences of consumed environmentally contaminated goose meat?
The article below appeared in The Ottawa Citizen
Meat contamination wins Canada geese reprieve
Fri 13 Sep 1996
The Ottawa Citizen
CLARKSTOWN, New York In this community, official Charles Holbrook
may forever be known as the man who took on the geese.
This June, Holbrook earned the enduring wrath of animal-rights
advocates when he rounded up 251 Canada geese for slaughter,
the culmination of three years of collecting complaints about the birds,
particularly their droppings. ``In some of the parks, you'd go in with
white shoes and come out with green shoes,'' Holbrook said.
To make the mass extermination palatable to the public, Holbrook
had the goose meat sent to a local food bank. On Aug. 27, however,
the state Department of Environmental Conservation announced that
the meat, all 90 kilograms of it, had been contaminated by
feathers, dirt and traces of lead from pellets and was unfit to eat.
Holbrook was philosophical. ``It was botched at the slaughterhouse,'' he
said. ``But this is the first time we've done it.''
But to wildlife advocates, the contamination is proof that Holbrook's
population control method is flawed.
``The idea of rounding them up, processing them and feeding them to
the poor is ridiculous,'' said Gregg Feigelson, president of the Coalition
to Prevent the Destruction of Canada Geese.
``We predicted the meat was going to be contaminated,'' he said
though he said that he had expected it would be the result of pesticides
ingested by the birds, not poor processing. There are strict state
limits on the consumption of goose because of pesticide contamination
in the birds' diet.
Feigelson and other critics say that there are more geese in Clarkstown
now than before, partly because the birds flock to underpopulated areas.
``Other birds replaced the ones that were removed within one week,''
said Anne Muller, president of the Committee to Abolish Sport Hunting.
``When they see an area with grass and water, they're going to land
Raging goose wars
The goose wars have raged here since Holbrook first took office in
1993, when he implemented an ill-fated birth control program for the
For Holbrook's supporters, the main issue is the threat from goose
droppings. Local health officials said the droppings might contain
bacteria like shigella and salmonella, though they conceded that
no studies directly supported that contention.
Holbrook said he was committed to the goose-meat program and
would try it again next year, paying perhaps a little more attention to the
``The geese are going to be here forever,'' he said. ``We just want to
have the right to manage them.''