You Will Never See This Family Again

By Karen Stamper

Brute, Baby Girl and kids. Photo by Karen Stamper

On June 18, 2008, I saw Brute, Baby Girl, and their 2 babies for the last time!On June 19, the Michigan DNR came and removed this precious goose family, and about 60 other resident geese, because someone living in a condo next to the Nature Park, did not want them there. These geese were like pets to most of the regulars that visited the Township-owned park. On their application to remove the geese, the condo association misstated that they owned the property.

I questioned Julie Oakes at the DNR Southfield office as to why they don’t check applications for basic accuracy. She said they don’t have the manpower to check every one. If they don’t have the manpower to check applications, then they shouldn’t give out permits.

How often has this happened? I challenged the DNR, but to no avail. When I received the FOIA request it was completely redacted. The DNR’s attorneys told us the Township had requested the round-up, but their evidence was a 1996 resolution regarding a lake on the other side of town!

The condo association was never fined or confronted by the DNR. We told them what they had done was illegal. They replied that they would do nest destructions in future. They don’t understand that it was a privilege to be allowed to build near the park, and they have no ownership rights to the park, and thus no right to harm the geese and other wildlife there.

It was upsetting to learn that the geese were separated from their mates and babies and kept in a holding facility. We were told they would be shipped to Kentucky, but they could have been killed, which is what I suspect happened to them.

To this day it is disturbing that they took Brute and his family who had been at the park at least three years. He had a damaged wing, which the DNR judged to be “angel wing,” possibly caused by human feeding. However, I believed it was an injury from a fight, because he had scars on his chest. After many years of experience watching geese, I don’t believe it was angel wing; I think it was a birth defect.

I am an amateur photographer and enjoyed watching this really special goose for three years. In 2008, I was photographing Brute, his mate, and their two babies. I always noticed that he and his mate, as well as all the geese, swans, and ducks were quite aware of where their babies were at all times and which ones were theirs, which made it especially cruel to separate them at the “holding facility.”

I asked Julie Oakes why not just let Brute’s family live at the lake. She claimed the DNR couldn’t do that because his damaged wing wouldn’t allow him to migrate. I pointed out that he had been fine there before the round-up. The DNR had about 1800 geese in holding, and she said they couldn’t locate him and no one else would be allowed in the facility. What they were hiding? After losing Brute I resolved to do whatever I could to save geese.

Some people in Michigan and elsewhere don’t like geese because they poop on lawns. The DNR claims that their feces cause disease, but cannot cite credible studies. I don’t think any animal deserves to be killed because a wildlife-phobic person chooses to buy a condo whose backyard is a nature park. Not being allowed to harm wildlife should be a requirement when buying a home near a lake or nature park.

In 2010 we video-taped some goose round-ups.

See one on You Tube: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=a35p6dtn3FM .

It clearly shows that humane round-up rules were broken; yet the condo association was never fined or reprimanded.

I was in my kayak that day to dissuade geese from entering the canal leading to where they were captured. Men threatened me from the banks and in boats, but I did manage to deter three geese from going into the pen. I only wish I could have saved them all.

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Karen Stamper is a photographer and activist. While in the field, she became aware of injured animals, especially waterfowl, which led her to do animal rescue. In recent years, she has seen first-hand how Canada geese and mute swans are treated in Michigan and throughout the United States. She said, It is my mission now to fight for these birds and give them a voice. Cruelty to any animal should never be accepted in our society, whether by an individual or by our government agencies.

Good News!

Karen recently learned that the condo association didn’t turn their 2011 paperwork in on time, so they cannot have a goose roundup this year!.

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