Thursday, April 16, 2009


OK here is fair warning, I am going to have a rant, I am going to vent, I just need to, it has been one of those days.

A week or so ago I noticed that a pair of Canada Geese had taken up residence on an area of low roof at the Museum. Each day I watched as they carefully collected nesting material and I watched the female one afternoon sitting and arranging all the twigs and pebbles carefully around herself. Over the following couple of days she began to pluck her soft down feathers out and line the nest with them. When I returned to work after the weekend there were four eggs in the nest. I saw this as a wonderful learning opportunity and a perfect chance for the many city children that visit our Museum who have absolutely no contact with nature, to be able to observe something very special. So I worked with the exhibits department to put together a sign with some photographs and some information about Canada Geese and we put it up by the window which overlooked the roof area. I was happy to see parents and children reading the sign and looking out at the geese and expressing their delight at being able to see it. So we are all happy right? Wrong! Today the Chicago Park District came and put a ladder up against our building, climbed up, and removed the eggs. Unfortunately our Museum is on park property so there was absolutely nothing we could do about it.
So this is were my rant comes in - I know that it is 'only' a Canada Goose but I have a really huge problem with the whole idea that because a species has managed, against all odds to be successful alongside human beings that it automatically has to be regarded as a pest. That just bugs the hell out of me. It seems either we push a species to the brink of extinction, or in many cases, to extinction, then feel incredibly guilty and spend a fortune in time and money trying to rectify our wrongs. Or somehow an species manages to adapt and learn to live with us and then becomes despised because it is common. How does that work? I am so sick of hearing people complain about geese 'pooping everywhere.' What about us? We foul waterways and oceans on an alarmingly massive scale to the extreme detriment of numerous species - does that give those species the right to come and kill our babies because we 'poop everywhere!' Oh no, of course not, different set of rules for us.

So there was I trying to hold it together at work and behave in a rational manner, not run around and hurt people ;) When someone comes up to me and says 'Did you know that they killed the beaver in the pond too?' Now I am at serious risk of starting to loose any vague modicum of self control I may have.
We have had a beaver living in the pond behind the Museum for a while now, again quite an amazing thing as this is a pond in the middle of a city park with no rivers or streams accessing it so this beaver did really well to even get to the pond without getting killed on one of the numerous roads it would have inevitably had to cross. The problem was of course that the beaver has to eat - really the audacity of the animal, who does it think it is? So, in proper beaver style, it started chewing the trees around the pond. Someone in the neighbourhood complained and bingo! No more beaver.
I was walking home feeling very despondent, thinking I was perhaps the only person in the world who actually liked to share my space with animals - we live in the middle of the city so we have to take what we can get! When I saw this sign attached to a fence near the pond, it broke my heart to read it but maybe, just maybe I am not alone after all.

And her crime? Eating trees! Of course we humans don't cut trees down at all do we? Hmmmmmmmmmmmm? Lets ask the various species that are struggling to survive in the ever diminishing Amazon, or any other forest for that matter, what they think about that shall we?

Don't get me wrong, I can be rational (sometimes!!) about animals. I am not about to rush out and join PETA or start jumping on the bandwagon to make 'owning' a pet illegal. I have sat in the bush and watched a lioness break an antelopes legs so that her cubs can learn how to pounce and kill something, I have seen a fish eagle pick up a mongoose and drop it so that it was injured but not completely immobile so that the juvenile eagles could practice catching something that was slow moving. I feed live animals to other live animals as part of my job every day, I know nature is brutal in its own way but it is always brutal as a means of survival. With us though, we give ourselves the right to kill as and when we please for purely cosmetic reasons and that is what sickens me. I just have a real issue with us playing God and killing animals for doing what they were meant to do. (I did warn you that I needed to rant!)

Just for good measure, to ensure that my entire day really did suck, I was walking from a meeting back to my office with Scabbers, our rat, on my shoulder. He loves coming to meetings as he is very friendly and social and is hugely popular with the Museum staff. Anyway I walked down the hallway past a young woman with a stroller and she started squealing like a stuck pig! I figured it was the rat so I kept walking to get him away from her so she would calm down! Oh no - of course not, why would she, she starts shouting that it is wrong and flailing her arms about like there were a hundred rats on her! Jamie who was with me was quite amused by the whole performance - another reason why I like her! I can understand not liking rats, that is fine, which is why I moved away but really! If he was sitting quietly on my shoulder enjoying the ride, what exactly did she think he was going to do? Leap thirty feet across the hallway and grab her by the throat? I removed him from the area as quickly as I could to alleviate the problem but that was a classic case of over reaction and as a result - Scabbers is no longer allowed to ride around on my shoulder. - Did I mention it has been a really lousy day?

For those of you who have stuck with me this far, thank you. I promise I wont rant again for a while. Hey, at least the sun is shining :)

Photo Credits - CJT


Carol said...

Well, Celeste, I have read your entire "rant" and all I can say is ...well said! Live and let live....

Anonymous said...

Celeste..I would like to post this to Nature Notes..This is real and true and we need to know about it. I understand how you feel as I took the dying geese out of the pond that were shot two seasons ago. I have watched another neighbor shoot the muskrat with a BB gun and I know our state legislator drowns traps and drowns the muskrats that come to the pond. I get so angry and rant and then I cry and I feel like a small wildlife sanctuary in the middle of a murderous malestrom of ignorance and self entitlement.... I do prefer wildlife to many humans... Michelle..

photowannabe said...

Good rant Celeste. It seems so wrong. Hope tomorrow will be better for everyone, animal or human.

Anonymous said...

I wanted to add that a little ratty on your shoulder is the best furry buddy ever as my daughter knew...More ignorance....

RJ Flamingo said...

I simply cannot stomach humans, sometimes. Okay, most of the time. People are, in general, stupid and ignorant, and I'm really sorry you had such a lousy day.

Maybe tomorrow will be better, somehow...

Jay said...

Oh, no ... well, all I can say is that I'm completely with you. In fact it would have upset me so much that I might have considered handing in my notice and telling the department exactly why.

How ******* arrogant. How stupidly, selfishy arrogant we are. Gah!

Becky said...

I'm with you on this one, for the most part. Sorry you had a bummer of a day. That lady who freaked out about the rat ... idiot... thats the only word that comes to mind.

Laughing Orca Ranch said...

I'm riding your bandwagon with you! Grrr!
Why must all city park be so STERILE? Why can't nature be allowed to share with us and teach us about it's wonders? What do we get from walking through manicured bushes and trees? What does it teach us?

So sad.

This just makes my rant about feral cats even more solid. Why do authorities think it's ok to capture feral cats, alter them, and then release them back into the 'wilds' of the suburbs or city?

They aren't native!
They kill thousands or rare and endangered birds, mammals and insects every DAY!

Couldn't the trees around the pond have been protected with wire (oooh! wouldn't that be so ugly for the park visitors).

Couldn't dead fall or clearcut trees be brought in as food for the the same way that people feed pigeons or ducks?

Couldn't there have been some compromise or thought behind any actions regarding wildlife?



Flartus said...

Hi Celeste; I followed you over here from Laughing Orca. Your rant has many good points to it, some of which I've never entirely considered.

I live in a suburban development with a pond that attracts geese that do "poop everywhere." I wonder how many of the dog owners who leave their dog poop around the pond bitch about the goose poop? (Which is made up mostly of grass, not "beef by-products" or "tocopherols.")

I was in PetSmart earlier today, in front of a family that had just bought a finch. I tell you, it absolutely broke my heart to see one of God's creatures trapped in a box and trundled down the conveyor belt at a cash register, just to serve as decoration. I had parakeets as a child, but now that I've grown up, I don't think I could ever keep another bird in a cage.

There are those of us out here who do love and respect animals. You just ran into too many ignorami for one day!

Arija said...

My dear, after a day like that, topped off with the overacting b...
you have every right to blow a gasket!
Here, the powers that be are talking about taxing our cattle for farting greenhouse gasses...of course their own overfed fat bottoms don't ever let off.
The more I learn about most people, the more I feel like being with just a selected few and lots of animals.
I cannot understand your parks people for acting in this way. In the Melbourne Victoria Botanical gardens they have a mass infestation of stinking Flying Foxes which are badly damaging the trees and yet they are protected. The brushtail possoms were playing havock with the beautiful trees in the parks. Instead of poisoning the critters, the trees got metal collars so the possoms could not climb up. Problem solved.
Murdering a peaceful Beaver really takes the cake! The parks people probably do enough limb opping to provide food for a dozen Beavers!
Oops, looks like I've just done what you did.

gtyyup said...

You sure had every right to rant and rave...I'm amazed at the actions by the Park people. But, I would have liked to see/hear the stupid woman screaming...she needs to stay home on the porch...