There is an old saying “Where there’s muck there’s money.” This is certainly true for farmed animals, but wildlife it seems can be punished for defecating on grass, whereas subsidy can be applied for by the farmer or landowner to spoil grass by planting their own animals on a bit of green space. Sandwell council allege that “a large flock defecating every few minutes can deposit a great deal of excreta.”
There are others like former Sandwell Council Senior Countryside ranger Roy Croucher who appear to even claim to know the average time it takes for a goose to defecate, which he writes from the comfort of his non-native French retreat.
We would like to know how both he and his former employer from which he draws a pension has been able to evaluate how much excrement a single goose or flock has produced and if they have observed a single goose all day going to the toilet. Have they also observed every other species of bird that excretes on the grass or footpaths for comparison, or are they just blaming one species for “spoiling the grass”?
At the Sandwell valley, Sandwell council receive money from Natural England. An email that I received from them in 2012 confirms
“Since 2002, a number of areas of the Country Park have been under a government scheme called Countryside Stewardship, administered by Natural England. In 2010 we were advised by Natural England to enter into new scheme called Higher Level Stewardship, which also rewards land owners for managing land in an environmentally sympathetic way.
Natural England were very pleased with the success of the Countryside Stewardship Scheme, particularly with the restoration of a number of wildflower meadows and hedgerows, and could see that we had the capability to manage a larger area under the new Higher Level Stewardship scheme.
As you may be aware, we operate two farms within which is a pedigree herd of Jersey cows and a smaller herd of Herefords, the latter enabling us to be a registered member of the Rare Breeds Survival Trust. The high standard of herd management means that we are able to sell our milk commercially as well as selling-on beef cattle to market.
We receive further recognition of the high standard of land management, through the Single Farm Payment Scheme, administered by the Rural Payments Agency. This states that in addition to good land management, we have to adhere to certain standards of animal health and welfare. Both Higher Level Stewardship and the Single Farm Payment scheme are available to farmers and for many, make an important contribution to their commercial success.”
Incredible isn’t it how farming funded by the taxpayer can pay a very few off- which sees a scattering of a few cows in a fenced off field supposedly doing a world of good by eating grass. Go for a walk in these areas and you might put your foot in something brown however.
All animals that eat grass are likely to defecate on the grass if they spend the majority of their lives eating the stuff. It is only human perception that somehow categorizes and quantifies different types of excrement in an ordered form, which is a rather anal thing to do in itself. With some people this can be rather obsessive to the point that they are literally phobic of animal excrement, or phobic of particular animals excrement. This may have resulted from a childhood experience of “inadvertently swallowing” mess of one type or another. Perhaps they looked up at the wrong moment and caught a bird poop down the gullet?
It is this “coprophobia” , an irrational human fear of dung that makes some people despise Canada geese, though the thought process as to why this bird is any different to ducks, swans, dogs, horses, snakes or anything else that may chance on the grass on which they walk, is less easily explained by them- as we said, it is their own personal irrational fear to overcome themselves. They should not use taxpayers money to remove the fear that they hold, but remove their fear of the thing that they fear.
We recognise that sports fields are used for this purpose, but in the planning design of these parks, why were they designed open plan to be next to man made lakes which would attract birds? What did the designers expect to happen, and why should the birds have to be removed permanently as a result of someone’s transient seasonal hobby? We have seen the introduction in Sandwell of the dog control orders, part of which forbid people from allowing their dogs to run free on sports pitches- but this controversial rule appears to be widely flouted, and little enforced. When it is enforced it is probably as a result of trying to introduce income fines for the council, rather than having any specific health and safety implications.
WHAT’S THE RISK?
The answer to this question should come from Sandwell council itself. How many people who complain about the mess of geese can prove with direct evidence that it has led them to an illness or disease as a result of coming into direct contact with it? Canada geese mess has no odour whatsoever- because it is mainly recycled grass.
If they excrete other foodstuffs that they are fed, this too is biodegradable. Leaving large quantities of bread, especially as a means of dumping trade waste is something that we would discourage just as much as Sandwell council- but this is a human issue and not one that the geese should be punished for and ultimately killed for. It is also a cultural issue for some community groups, and this is dealt with in a politically correct manner by councillors who are looking for a sizeable “minority” vote in some council wards. Again this is human psychology at work which blames the goose, to protect the selfish interests of the politician.
There is irrefutable evidence that people dump more rubbish by weight, frequency and content than any animal or bird. Much of it cannot be recycled and is not biodegradable. Sandwell council have introduced many “family” orientated attractions into Dartmouth park, one of the cull sites for geese. The amount of rubbish generated by humans in this park is now at an epidemic proportion. It takes up staff time to clear it diverting them away from other activities, and other sites in the borough where management these days is virtually none existent. Other sites around the borough are little different where there are these type of play area attractions, which often attract drunks and drug users and not families.
Then there are human leisure activities that contribute nothing but misery to wildlife such as fishing. This is again encouraged as it offers a source of income for the greedy local authority. We have dealt with many instances of people’s litter causing wildlife direct threats in Sandwell- here are just a few examples
When making complaints that are fully justified by this presented evidence, we get the pass off every time from this local authority, and particularly staff who used to work for them, who appear happy for it to continue, yet they can justify culling the single species which they claim is “messy” that can be seen to be suffering as a result of human activity, and their apathy.