Wild Goose Chase

Once upon a time, there was a small town capital of a small country. The town had its urban parks, like any town does, but one park stood out.

It was the crown jewel of the parks, seaside and stretching out over the poshest areas to live. Posh as it might’ve been, all locals, posh or not, enjoyed lazy Sunday walks there in the springtime, watching sailboats drift by, and windy summer ice creams licked fast whilst keeping an eye out for hungry seagulls.

In the 90’s, the hit activity was rollerblading. In the 00’s, drinks and clubbing. Late 10’s, electric scooters.

In the 00’s, some of the drinking was done in the form of picnics.

My mind goes blank. The narrator in my head gives my brain cells a nudge: Remember them?

Ah yes, faintly.

You take a blanket and put it on the grass. 

Whaaat? That’s disgusting.

Well, see, in the noughties, the grass was nice and clean. Green and healthy. Pleasant to sit on and have some strawberries while tanning your bare white feet. You might’ve even laid down for a bit and relaxed.

Really? Are you sure?

Yes, there were no geese back then.

I know, but it just seems so out of this world. Put a blanket on grass and sit on it – without any wet poop sticking on it or between your now un-shoed toes. No unpleasant smells. Is that really what people used to do?

Yes, and I have a feeling you’ll be explaining picnics to the next generation someday, as exotic as landline phones.

Ah… it’s all coming back to me now…

This particular park used to be very popular for picnics. Once upon an even earlier time, it had been popular for free concerts, until the City Council had banned them, saying they ruined the grass, with irony yet unbeknownst to them.

Then one summer, large flocks of large geese arrived unannounced. The non-native species made itself at home and defended its territory aggressively, chasing anybody who came nearby. They were even known to bite.

They pooped everywhere, spreading invisible bacteria onto the palms of crawling toddlers, and chewed up all the grass, turning parks brown. They pooped in the shallow seawater, turning it into a stinking liquid you wouldn’t want to touch with a stick. Poop was on the soles of your shoes, on the floors of outdoors cafes, on pedestrian walkways. It spread into your car, was carried into your home.

The geese, massive in size and noisy, excited some dogs and scared off others. The formerly-despised thieving seagulls started to seem tame in comparison and their craving for ice cream didn’t seem that bad anymore.

And then the geese spread out all around town into every one of its parks and green areas. Any little patch of grass would do. The crown jewel was already gone and digested, and they needed more.

The problem was widely ignored by everyone and the town’s Tourism Office continued to boast that the city was a haven of delights.

Meanwhile, locals had nowhere to sit down since all the parks were contaminated. But as the years went by, they started to think this was normal, forgetting that at some point it had actually been possible for a human to enjoy a park, too. That they were not originally intended as recreational areas for geese. People simply forgot that seeing something green would help to keep the town’s tax payers sane. That sometimes it would be nice to enjoy a sunny day outdoors while staying in the city.

Coinciding with Instagram’s emergence, the demand for international travel increased. The geese were pictured on social media doing funny things, like crossing the road and making cars wait. No one instagrammed the poop. No one mentioned that the locals were fleeing town.

Occasionally, someone would start an online discussion saying the geese needed to go, but these discussions led to nothing but anger. The angriest wanted them dead. The more sophisticated wanted them removed.

The City Council that once banned concerts now seemed blissfully ignorant of the ruined grass. They must have been summering by their own lakeside villas, far away from the city, undisturbed, only to return to town once the birds had flown away for the winter.

One year, a local tabloid announced the origin of the geese: a zookeeper had let them out of their cage, thinking they would fly off somewhere far away. To his surprise, they had stayed put – and multiplied.

This revelation, while quite stunning and eyebrow-raising, led nowhere and it, too, was quickly forgotten, as things tended to be. Years passed and the original picnickers had moved on to greener grasses abroad, leaving their old tiny home town to be flooded with new residents from rural areas and more tourism. The geese were Instagrammed again, and, as usual, found adorable by newcomers.

Some more years passed. A tabloid wrote, as if it was new information,

“Favorite beach overtaken by geese,” adding pictures.

Again, a spark of discussion online, and nothing but collective amnesia.

Until one day, a woman in the Mayor’s Office wrote a column saying she wanted to bring the parks back to the people. The end of the story is yet to unfold.

***

Inspired by this article (in Finnish, sorry). I love nature but this species doesn’t belong here. It’s a tricky subject, what are your thoughts?

66 responses to “Wild Goose Chase

  1. Wow, good luck with this. Isn’t there some place that would love to have a flock of geese? It sounds like the intruders need to be moved there. This is tough, since as humans we might be willing to share, but the geese don’t understand the concept and think they now own the place. Too bad, but interesting post just the same.

    Liked by 2 people

  2. It sounds like they could be repatriated to a farm nearby that needs geese for protection from trespassers, or meat, perhaps?
    There should be some green spaces in the city , where you can enjoy a small breathing space/nature. Sigh, these sorts of imbalances often occur when a species that does not belong in the local area, gets introduced somehow; in this case by accident, or sometimes deliberately. Do you remember the cane toad in Brisbane? Catastrophic example of interfering with nature.
    I was walking along the Beachside Esplanade on the weekend and there was apparently a little miniature pig running around in the long grass in the cliffside. People have been feeding him and giving him names. Obviously, someone had let the miniature pig out or it escaped from their home. Whilst the pet pig does not do too much damage, one could imagine what would happen if there were two of them or more: that could be another story. Best to not interfere with nature.

    Liked by 2 people

  3. This is so well-written, and it makes me so sad! I am in one of those “what’s wrong with our world and the people in it” moods this week anyway, so this just hurts to read. (Not that I am not glad I read it; you did a great job with it!). I hope something good comes from the column … keep us posted!

    Liked by 2 people

    • Thanks Lexie! I really hope something finally happens too. I bet it would’ve been easier to get rid of them in a civilized manner during the first few years when they were just a large handful. Now there are hundreds of them, maybe even thousands (???), who knows. The best proposition I’ve heard is to feed them some kind of drugs so that they won’t reproduce. But that hasn’t been done. Perhaps the problem is that other animals might digest it too?

      Liked by 1 person

  4. here in queensland we have the same sort of trouble with fruit bats and ibis. sometimes the flocks move on, other times they have to be moved. they tried playing bird noises loudly in the parks but the birds seemed to like it:-) cheers sherry

    Liked by 2 people

  5. Great writing, Snow! I love your way of telling stories!
    It’s such a pity these geese have invaded Helsinki’s parks… At the beginning I though it could be related to climate change, that those geese weren’t migrating south during winter or something like that… And then, surprise! They are from a zoo… This reminds me of the red squirrels in UK and Ireland. Someone in the XIX introduced the american grey squirrel and now that this new species has spread in both islands, the native little red squirrel is almost extinct…
    Ah, humans… we never learn!!!
    (I hope you can enjoy your parks soon….)

    Liked by 2 people

    • Thanks dear Mercedes for the sweet comment and for taking the time to read this! After reading from another comment that geese are a problem in the Netherlands, too, and apparently in Norway, I’m wondering if the zookeeper story was a tabloid stunt or did it really happen that way. Nevertheless, it seemed to suit the story. 😊 Have a fun weekend!

      Like

  6. Interesting one… and I was immediately caught by the Title! Made me thought about our own little hideaway here. A lake with beautiful nature surrounding it. I’ve seen it in different seasons, life was good. Easy and cheap.
    But then nowadays, I can’t do picnics as well that easy.
    Like geese, it is surrounded and flooded with duck poop + dog poop if you got lucky.
    There’s so many factors to add as well.
    Another thing is bird’s poop that lies even on bikes, that is totally not enjoyable.

    Great post read while I enjoy some quiet afternoon break.
    You should write a sequel and finish this story…

    Liked by 1 person

    • Happy to hear you understand how unpleasant this problem is! Though at the same time, I’m sorry you have a similar problem. Over here, there are other issues too, also ignored. My pet peeve is locals bragging about swimming in the summer when the Baltic Sea is completely polluted and there’s no way I would voluntarily dip my toes in it.
      Have a fun weekend, Christina! 🌺

      Like

  7. I love your title, though it could also be ‘Stupid human does something dumb to ruin things for other people.’ Too bad the problem wasn’t nipped in the bud. I suppose it wouldn’t be that hard to round them up and relocate them (or something else!), but it’s a question of whether there’s the will to do so. From the photo in the article you linked, they look like barnacle geese, probably named for their tenacious grip on territory they’ve acquired.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Yes, exactly: too bad they didn’t deal with it right away. That seems the way to go around here. Discuss, ponder, and do nothing. Meanwhile, locals are fed the idea this is the best place in the world, supported by bizarre global happiness reports by people who have obviously never set foot in the country. Tourism continues to grow and visitors are attracted by positive social media. But not everything is as it seems. Recently, a much needed children’s hospital was built here with private funding (donations) since the government didn’t take action in years (while the Parliament building and President’s office were thoroughly renovated with tax funds). The hospital’s a nice building, its interior designed with kids in mind. But apparently it was built in haste, as seems to be the trend here now. For example, some ceiling paneling had fallen down, on top of equipment being used by a newborn. If it had fallen inches to the left, the baby would’ve died. Poor quality has become a theme alongside bad decision-making. Wait for years, then complete the task in a hurry.

      Liked by 2 people

  8. Reading this was like reading a dystopian sci-fi novel, reminiscent of “1984” or “Fahrenheit 451”, but with geese as the threat 😆 Quite interesting reading all the comments about other pest species too!

    Liked by 1 person

  9. A thoughtful post about memory and oblivion. Read the article (translator does funny results but it’s understandable). There are limits to everything. Pigeons are a nightmare in all cities. Geese seem to act like very big pigeons. Ship them to Canada. 😉

    Liked by 1 person

Leave a Comment

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.