Friday, May 14, 2010

Please Do Not Feed the Goslings

We have lots of ducklings and goslings at Heather Farm Park now and people sometimes bring their big bags of stale bread to feed them. There's a large sign at the lake entrance, outlining all the reasons for not doing so, but people either don't notice it or choose to ignore it (in fairness, the park needs to post more signs, especially because it's an official nature preserve). So when I walk around the lake and I see people with their bread-bags, I mentally wrestle about whether I should inform them of the park rules.

The park doesn't want anyone feeding the birds because they get sick from the human food. Sometimes they die. They're not built to digest bread and it has no nutritional value for them anyway. Feeding wild birds encourages them to stick around the area longer than they should and they over-tax the ecosystem with their needs and waste. The lake water fills with algae, making it difficult for other species to survive.

Sometimes people listen to me and stop feeding them. It's usually moms with little kids. Little kids love feeding birds, but if the no-feeding rules are posted--don't encourage them. Teach them about animal safety and habitats. Kids naturally love saving and caring for animals. They won't want to feed them if you tell them it's not good for them.

The other day I pointed out the sign to a mom and she just kept letting her kids feed the goslings big hunks of bread, which they gobbled up. I told her it could kill them, but she ignored me. I got so angry and repeated the rule. She said something like, "Yeah, I heard you the first time." I told her it was an opportunity to educate her kids, which was my polite way of telling her she's a dummy. I often think being polite is not always the way to go. It's probably too late for her, but not for her toddlers.

From the sign:
-Bread and other snacks cause harmful and potentially fatal health problems such as botulism and duck plague.
-Alters the natural ecosystem balance
-Decreases life expectancy and health
-Pollutes the water and habitat
-Discourages natural and healthy migration habits
-Creates overpopulation
-Causes problems for other native birds

And may I add: The goose-shit situation at Heather Farms is untenable. Please do not encourage more shit.

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