Facts About the 2019 Denver Canada Geese Killings

1. The dates of the forcible removal of healthy Canada geese – adult, juvenile, and goslings -, followed by slaughter?
It began after June 5th, and lasted through July 9th, which is the date of the forcible removal of geese from Garfield Lake Park. Although removal began in City Park and Washington Park in early June, the public did not start noticing until the end of June.

To see video of Denver’s geese being rounded up from Garfield Park, you can review either of these videos. Please be aware these videos may be upsetting. They were not filmed by Canada Geese Protection Colorado.

This took place at Garfield Lake Park in Denver, Colorado on 7/9/19.
This took place at Garfield Lake Park in Denver, Colorado on 7/9/19.

2. How many Canada geese were slaughtered?
The “official” number from the mayor’s office is 1662. However, there are conflicting reports. One news report quoted 2000. The Depredation permit states that there is a cap at 2200 Canada geese.

3. Which parks were impacted? Numbers of geese at each park?
CGPC has been unable to get the precise number of Canada geese removed from the parks, although DPR’s Goose Management Program (June 2019) states that the numbers and locatinos must be accounted for. What we are estimating is that the largest number of geese were removed from City Park and Washington Park with fewer numbers removed from Sloan’s Lake and Garfied Lake. Rough estimates might range 500+ from City and Wash, and 150-200 from Sloan’s Lake and Garfield Lake.

4. Will the forcible removal of Canada geese continue?
At this time, deputy director Scott Gilmore has indicated that he will continue with the forced removal for the next two years. Other lakes in the Denver metro area will be targeted. We do not have a list of the other parks and lakes schedulued for forced removal of a portion of the Canada geese population.

5. Why did the city and Denver Parks & Recs decide to forcibly remove Canada geese? Here’s what we know:
· 2017 – A group in Wash Park met with Councilman Kashmann asking for a more vigorous method to manage the Canada geese population.

· 2017 – Citizens To Restore Denver Parks organized a petition asking the city to deal with goose poop in Denver Parks. 1,500 people signed the petition.

· October 22, 2018 – The City of Denver entered into a $150,000 contract with USDA for goose management and wildlife damage services. Mayor Michael B. Hancock and deputy director Scott Gilmore, designated as project administrator, signed the contract.

· June 2019 – DPR’s Goose Management Program was published in June 2019 stating that “public relations or outreach is important to success,” and public support is necessary for lethal measures. (GMP, pg. 13) The GMP was published the same month as the initiation of the forcible removal of the geese.

· July 20-24, 2019, Denver hosted Greater & Greener 2019, an international urban parks conference hosted by City Parks Alliance and DPR, showcasing Denver’s parks systems to municipal agencies, mayors, funding organizations, and community leaders, designers and landscape architects, real estate developers involved in urban development.

6. What is a Depredation permit?
According to the US Fish & Wildlife Service, “depredation” is “damage or loss caused by birds.” Depredation permits are legal permits that allow USDA Wildlife Services to remove geese from specific locations and transport them to slaughterhouses for processing, or simply kill them.

7. Why is CGPC trying to provide information about the Depredation permit to the general public?
· The public has a right to know what the City of Denver agreed to by entering into a contract with USDA.

· As the Canada geese are a protected species under the Migratory Bird Treaty Act of 1918 (revised 2013), US Fish & Wildlife Service, as a federal agency, had to be involved. The agency is thus required to ensure that any individual designated to forcibly remove the geese, have proper training in humane methods. We do not have proof that USDA had qualified agents to remove the geese.

· The central arguments and reasons, provided by Scott Gilmore, Mayor Hancock, and various local news reporters stem include the following: (1) Geese poop is a nuisance; (2) The fear of disease including E. coli; and (3) The geese meat was going to feed the “needy” or “less fortunate.” In the Depredation permit, it states that the permit cannot be used “for situations in which migratory birds are merely causing a nuisance.” (Condition N).

Nuisance can be applied to a natural process of defecation, or to the stance that there are “too many” geese. Both of these stances have been in circulation and mentioned by residents in favor of a vigorous management program, as well as by authorities. However, the onus of responsibility falls upon Denver Parks and Recreation. As tax paying citizens, our monies go to the maintenance of the parks, which should include cleaning up the poop. If we consider that upon conclusion of the forced removal of the geese from the parks, and before the advent of the Greater & Greener 2019 Denver conference, the parks were cleaned effectively suggesting that DPR has the means by which to remove the poop. CGPC is asking for the maintenance and facilities record in order to note the cleaning record of the parks over the past two years. In addition, CGPC recognizes that geese poop can be bothersome, and propose that monies be directed toward the purchase of Tow and Collect machines, which Boulder Reservoir currently uses. The burden is not on the geese. It is on DPR to properly staff the parks in order to respond to citizen complaints that do not entail a contract with USDA and the extermination of healthy populations of Canada geese.

Threat to human health. According to the Depredation permit (Cond. G), “a direct threat to human health is one where a federal, state, or local public health agency recommends removal […] due to conducive transmission of human or zoonotic pathogens.” Scott Gilmore and other news reports have mentioned the spread of E. coli and an increase of algae blooms. (1) A 2018 Denver Department of Public Health & Environment report, dated September 6th 2018 – before the contract with USDA -, states that DDPHE monitors E. coli year-round with increased sampling taking place from May through early October. The report found that “E.Coli levels in the South Platte River and Cherry Creek are essentially unchanged over the past fifteen years.” The time span corresponds with an increase in the resident Canada geese population; therefore, there does not seem to be a direct correlation between increased fecal release into park lake waters, as officials suggest. (2) There has been a suggestion that the increase of algae blooms in Washington Park and City Park lakes corresponds with geese fecal matter. Taken from Denver.org/WaterQuality: “The Washington Park and City Park Lakes have been sustained with re-use water since 2004. This conserves limited water resources, allowing Denver to maintain our lakes sustainably. The cost of this source is that it comes with high nutrient loads, which contributes to productive algae and plant communities. The explosive algae and plant growth coupled with extremely effective (algae) control efforts have occasionally resulted in wide swings in dissolved oxygen (high with algae, low after chemical treatment), which can impact aquatic life.” The official assessment does not make a correlation with geese fecal matter or an increase in the resident Canada geese population.”

Feeding the meat to the needy or less fortunate. This narrative has been circulated repeatedly as a way to provide an ethical salve to the forced removal of the geese. However, Denver’s own pesticide report shows that Denver urban resident geese have been exposed to toxic pesticides, herbicides & algae-cides. As a result, the meat of urban resident geese is full of toxins and should not be fed to anyone, let alone the poor or food-insecure people. USDA and Scott Gilmore have stated that the Canada geese from the city’s parks are considered “game migratory,” as such there is no need to test the meat. USDA and Scott Gilmore have also inferred that in Cond. N of the Depredation permit, which states, “migratory game birds that are lethally taken under the permit may also be donated free-of-charge to charitable organizations,” equates “charitable organizations” as food banks. The permit does not state that humans should consume the meat. Rather, it states that, “migratory birds lethally taken […] may be donated free-of-charge to nonprofit animal facilities for animal dietary purposes only.” Friends of Animal lawsuit, filed July 25th 2019, disputes the interpretation of the Depredation permit. DPR’s Goose Management Program also states that if the meat is to be used for human consumption that “the name of the processing location, costs and final distribution location must be included in the request” to USDA. There is not yet evidence that the information was provided.

What do we want?
In short, CGPC asks the Denver public at-large to hold our officials accountable to protocol and procedures as stated in the Goose Management Program, and for the city to terminate its contract with USDA.

Provided by Carole Woodall, September 3, 2019

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