Friends of Animals and Canada Geese Protection Colorado are challenging U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Wildlife Services Division, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, and Denver Parks and Recreation for their ill-informed plan to round up and slaughter 4,000 resident Canada geese in Denver and process them to feed the needy to solve a perceived “goose poop” problem.
“The only nuisances in Denver are these draconian agencies who have an issue with cleaning up after Canada geese—waterfowl who mate for life,” said Priscilla Feral, president of Friends of Animals. “It’s no different than cleaning up after humans who litter in parks. As humans continue to take over habitat, they need to be willing to live in harmony with wildlife. In this case, the best way to do that is by establishing clean-up programs with turf and path cleaning equipment that other municipalities have used with great success.”
In a lawsuit filed June 5 in the U.S. District Court in Colorado, the groups state that the Environmental Assessment relies on outdated data on Canada geese populations in Colorado; fails to consider the removal of 1,662 geese from four Denver parks in 2019; and neglects to conduct any analysis concerning the health risks associated with consuming the goose meat, thus violating the National Environmental Policy Act. Furthermore, the depredation permit obtained by the USDA on April 9, 2020 authorizing the slaughter is not lawful under the Migratory Bird Treaty Act in situations in which migratory birds are merely causing a perceived nuisance.
The City of Denver has executed a contract for $108,000 with Wildlife Services Colorado for 2020.
“Denver Parks and Recreation and Wildlife Services Colorado cannot continue to make barbaric decisions based on outdated studies and informal population counts,” said Courtney McVean, attorney for Friends of Animals’ Wildlife Law Program. “Slaughtering thousands of geese simply because the agencies are too cheap and lazy to implement nonlethal approaches is both illegal and unethical.”
Canada geese have one nest per year and nesting occurs from mid-March through mid-May. As the nesting season passes, geese gather into flocks and congregate in open areas for the molting period. During the molt, resident geese lose their flight feathers and remain flightless from mid-June through early July. That is when officials need to step up their efforts to remove goose excrement from sidewalks, paths, and trails in parks.
“Canada Geese Protection Colorado applauds Friends of Animals’ legal action to stop the USDA’s inhumane capturing and slaughter of geese from Denver Parks,” said Carole Woodall of Canada Geese Protection Colorado, a grassroots organization formed in 2019 by local residents. “This lawsuit is an absolute necessity because it calls into question a profit-driven government agency that’s making decisions for the benefit of stakeholders while silencing the voices of advocates for America’s wildlife. The membership of Canada Geese Protection Colorado stands with Friends of Animals to speak for and protect wildlife.”