Friends of the Ducks and Geese
by Jan Baughman

Canadian geese were so rare 30 years ago that wildlife officials set up breeding programs and refuges. What resulted was one of the most overly successful conservation projects and so many geese that in several states they are now being killed in attempt to reduce the numbers. We have transformed them from a precious commodity to a public nuisance. But, in a brilliant PR move, their murderers are being absolved by donated the geese to the poor. Even in French history, they did not feed the poor with goose; (they knew it is a delicacy) instead, "let them eat cake" or "off with their heads".

A New York Times article ("Canada Geese are Becoming Burgers: U.S. Approves Killing of Birds, Now Plentiful, as Food for Poor; July 5, 1996) quotes Stephen D. Wilds of the Fish and Wildlife service: "Using them as a rich source of protein for the poor is far better than taking them out and burning them or burying them".

The geese have an advocacy group called "The Friends of the Ducks and Geese" that is trying to halt the killings. They prefer a population control method that is more humane in which freshly laid eggs are removed from the nest, shaken (i.e., in vivo scrambling), then returned to the nest. The advocacy group has a lawyer who stated that "It's not like a bird abortion...". (The unfertilized eggs have no one representing them as yet.)

If the goose recipients are smart, they will accept them indifferently and eat them quietly, because once the word is out in this country that goose is a delicacy, some entrepreneur will offer to buy them from the government for a nominal fee, process them, can them and sell them for a hefty profit. Just last week, as I opened my last can of confit d'oie (preserved goose) to prepare some rillettes (a pate of sorts) I commented to Gilles that I need to return to Paris for more confit d'oie and confit de canard. Of course, one can find it here but the cost is so outrageous that I've decided to start my own advocacy group for the preservation of ducks and geese: Les Amis de Confit de Canard et d'Oie.

Published July 16, 1996
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