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Dick Cheney’s Hunting Legacy Lives On

If you think Dick Cheney “hunting” birds that were tied down till moments before he arrived was bad, wait till you see what Sarah Palin encouraged in Alaska: hunting wolves in the winter from airplanes.

A warning: the following advertisement is not something you want to watch if you’re sensitive to animal cruelty. I’m not carrying it in my VodPod video gallery because I cannot make such a warning in that case.

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EQobIUE1zTU[/youtube]

Let me say that I can think of reasons people might want to justify such hunting methods.  For example, over-population of wolves.  We’ve had similar controversies in Rochester over the deer over-population problem at Durand Eastman Park, and deer don’t kill our livestock or our family dog.

However, there doesn’t seem to be any real indication that the wolf population of Alaska is really a problem.  Rather, there is a history of over-management of the wolf population that extends well into the past, and the policy is really more vestigal than a genuinely modern wildlife program.  Alaska meanwhile has the largest remaining population of grey wolves in the United States which it threatens to destroy with this backward program.

Personally, while I respect and often agree with animal rights advocates, I’m not shy about the need for hunting in some situations.  Neither do I have an objection to hunting as a recreational sport.  But where we’re from here in Upstate New York, there is a sense of basic fairness to the way we go about hunting.  For all the technology we have to employ in the task of hunting, ultimately, the expectation is that it comes down to one man (or woman), one gun and one animal.  You aren’t allowed to hunt before dawn; you aren’t allowed to shine lights at deer to stun them into immobility.  You certainly are not allowed to circle them in a plane and keep taking shots till you hit them.

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Geese Trapped on 490

Last night, as I returned home from work at 4:30pm, I was startled to see a flock of about twenty or so Canadian geese walking along the breakdown on 490 eastbound, in front of the East Rochester exit.  It seemed like a curious oddity until I talked to my wife and discovered that she’d also seen them on the road at 3:30 that same day.

It then dawned on me that the geese were trapped.  You see, geese need to have a bit of open, level ground on which to run and get a head of steam before they’re able to take flight.  For whatever reason, these geese got stuck on 490, where there is no such room. . .  unless of course they cross the highway.  And every time they do, there’s a good chance some of them might not make it.  Every time they do, there is the potential for a very serious automobile accident at 65-70 miles an hour.  Indeed, on our ride east later that evening, we saw signs of what danger there was, as we saw no less than three dead geese in the road in the space of maybe 100 feet.

We contacted 911 yesterday evening to alert them of the issue.  We were informed that the 911 dispatch had actually recieved more than one call before us about this same situation and were assured that someone would take care of it.

This morning, my wife and I went to the public market.  Guess what we saw on our ride home?  Three more geese dead in the road and the remainder hunkered down in the space between the East Rochester off-ramp and 490 east.  Nothing has been done.

We contacted 911 again this morning and I carefully and patiently explained the situation to another operator.  I think it’s pretty clear they didn’t get it right off the bat – and neither did the other operator – but once she did, she took it much more seriously.  Both operators said they’d gotten calls previously on the same situation, but as yet no action occurred.  I don’t think anyone knew what to do, for a start.  She gave me the number for Pittsford’s animal control group.  When I spoke to someone there, he was also aware of the situation, but from his perspective, he couldn’t stop traffic without the sheriff’s department’s help.  So far, no sheriffs had yet been deployed to the scene in over twelve hours.

So I contacted the Monroe County Sheriff’s department in Pittsford.  By the time I’d gotten to them, they’d received calls (probably from 911 and the Pittsford animal control, both) and finally said they would be deploying sheriffs to the scene.  That was quarter to nine this morning, a few minutes ago.

As much as my wife and I love nature and respect animal life, I don’t pretend that others necessarily feel the same way.  I can understand that – at first blush – the idea of geese on 490 conjures images more absurd than dangerous to many people, especially those not familiar with the dangers of highway travel in rural areas.  But this situation is both remarkably torturous for the birds and remarkably dangerous for human commuters out there on the highway; I would have expected that a more serious effort would have been initiated much, much sooner to resolve this issue.

I’ll try to keep this space updated with what I hear and see over the day about this problem.