Thursday, August 30, 2018

Is It OK To Kill Geese With Your Car In Jacksonville?

A Nextdoor post got a lot of heated debate recently, and I decided it was a good idea to weigh in on the issue. The initial post said that someone accelerated into a flock of geese, killing at least one goose. People angrily responded. Some mentioned it was a federal crime to kill geese. Others just said it was wrong. Then a couple of guys got into the discussion with their opinions that it was OK to do, or at least there's nothing any of us can do about it.


The question is not really one of morals. It's probably morally wrong to attack a defenseless animal with no intention of eating it. I'm more interested in the laws, as well as the prosecution of those laws. Here's what the official US government site had to say about the geese:
All species of Canada geese are protected under the Migratory Bird Treaty Act; however, if you are a landowner, homeowner’s association, public land manager, or local government in the lower 48 states or the District of Columbia, you may be able to register for federal authorization to destroy resident Canada Goose nests and eggs on property under your jurisdiction. 
 While the government site also acknowledged that Canadian geese are seen as pests, it does state that all of them (even if they are not actually migratory) are protected once born. However, being protected and the actual prosecution of offenders are two totally different issues.

The Migratory Bird Act says this about the birds:
Illegal to kill, capture, harass or possess any native bird.
I could not find a case of someone from Florida being arrested or prosecuted for killing a Canada goose. The public outcry would be much more intense for an eagle, I suppose. All the stories I did find online about people being arrested for killing geese took place in the Midwest or New England. Either they kill more of the birds there or the police are more willing to arrest someone on that charge there.

I did read an interesting story that said UNF police were unable to arrest someone for killing Canadian Geese on campus because they are not allowed to enforce federal laws, only local to state laws. Does that mean you can safely steal someone's mail at UNF?

I see it like this: I will not kill Canadian Geese. I will also not feed them. Apparently, I am not allowed to harass them. However, I will allow myself to be annoyed by them as a pest. I would encourage any program that allows the birds to be hunted for food for people in need. I am fine with people running the birds over if there is real danger to a human life (this is generally not the case). Basically, the birds are a nuisance to me, but so is the sun when I have to mow the lawn, and there's not much I can do about either.