Nature#8217;s equivalent to the mafia

Published 12:00 am Friday, December 14, 2007

It was hard for me last week to visit “Canada” or the Roberts-Vaughan House on the Murfreesboro Candlelight Christmas Tour and keep a straight face when I saw two faux Canadian geese amongst the decorations.

Though the faux geese were a nice touch to represent the country I couldn’t help but look into their fake little beady eyes and quiver with fear and disgust.

I’ve never been one to dislike animals, but the Canadian goose is not exactly on my “cute and cuddly” list when it comes to creatures.

To be honest I’ve always compared the geese to the likes of Oscar the Grouch, grumpy, mean spirited, dirty…without the trash can, of course.

While Oscar is a mean fictional character…the meanness of the Canadian geese is real.

I suppose these feelings started back in New York while I was attending Oswego State.

The campus sits directly on Lake Ontario, while Canada sits 53 miles on the other side, an unnerving fact for many Oswego State students.

Because of the large lake and a few tributaries around the campus in the spring and throughout the summer, the campus became ground zero for Canadian geese.

After the winter thaw, the geese fill the skies like one can imagine the Biblical locust invasion of the 10 plagues, honking and flying in their signature “V” shape.

After the initial seasonal invasion, the line between humans and geese would be drawn…and the war would begin.

One minute you would be walking calmly to your destination and the next you’re running for your life.

We referred to them as the “Geese Mafia;” no matter where you went they were “gonna get ‘cha.” They would hang out in groups of 20 or more just off the side walks, wiggling their heads and waddling about in the grass.

When some one walked a little too close, all would go “goosey loosey.” If you were lucky you would only receive a warning hiss, but some humans were not so fortunate.

For some it was a couple of honks, a few hisses, the sound of ruffling feathers and then a hard pinch of a bill on your leg. And if you didn’t move…well, you would have to be an idiot not to move.

And then we would have to deal with the “aftermath” of geese meals. Lets just say grass as a plant is appealing to look at, but not after its been digested by Canadian goose. And definitely not on the bottom of your new shoes.

Terrorists, illegal aliens were among the other names the geese were called. But no matter how many times geese chased students, bit students or relieved themselves on sidewalks, the campus never received visits from INS or Homeland Security.

There seems to be two sides when it comes to the Canadian goose, you either love them or you don’t.

On Facebook, a social network web site, groups of Canadian geese lovers and haters have congregated forming groups for the Branta canadensis, their scientific name.

Apparently I’m not alone in my feelings toward Canadian geese. Nearly 1,000 people belong to “Campus Kick-A-Goose Campaign” out of UNC Charlotte. Not that I’m supporting people kicking a goose, but the description of their group is funny and good luck if you can get that close to a goose without getting mauled.

While there are a few pro-Canadian geese groups, there are several more anti-groups like, “Canadian Geese Need to Stay in Canada” and “Canadian Geese Are a Threat to Mankind.”

Just like the fight between good and evil, the struggle between human and the Canadian goose lives on.

Amanda VanDerBroek is a Staff Writer for the Roanoke-Chowan News-Herald. For comments and column suggestions email: or call (252) 332-7209.