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Please, don’t feed the geese

To the editor:

Each spring, I am pleased to see the annual return of the geese to a wetland area on Route 136 in Greenfield. Every weekday, as I make my way to and from Peterborough, I watch the pair, anticipating that day when their goslings emerge. The next months provide great viewing as the young ones grow daily, and other families join the group to raise their young together.

Geese are creatures of habit, and return year after year to the same spot that is “just right” to raise a family. They brood as pairs, but raise their young in a communal way and we often see three to four groups join after the hatching to create quite the gaggle.

In recent years, someone has taken it upon themselves to feed the geese and their offspring by the side of the road. While this ensures we have even more viewing time, I have been concerned that we are not encouraging the goslings to develop natural foraging instincts. This year, the feeding had unintended consequences that are quite unsettling.

The breeding pair returned several weeks ago, and again someone started tossing them feed. Last week, I noted a small flock of very large adult turkeys enjoying the feed as well with the pair of geese standing across the road, unwilling to challenge this “gang.” This scene recurred for several days. In the past five days I have seen no sign of the geese, and worry that we have forced them out of this habitat they have known as home.

Folks, there is no sound reason to feed the geese — or for that matter the turkeys — other than for human pleasure. There is plenty of food bursting forth for both species, and when we intervene, we disrupt migratory patterns and create an unnatural dependence for the feed.

Enjoy the geese, photograph them, but please don’t feed them.

Paula Hunter


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