The geese suck. They poop everywhere. They’re aggressive. They bring traffic to a standstill. They are public enemy No. 1.
Chances are, you have heard a student make those claims at least once during your UB career.
But here’s the thing: the geese don’t suck.
Our climate-killing tendencies do.
Generations of freshmen have arrived on campus hearing stories of how terrible the geese are, which leads them to try and experience the geese for themselves, up close and personal. These students will get close to the flocks and try to scare and chase them away.
If you’ve been on campus for any amount of time, you’ve likely seen one of these stand-offs; heck, you might have even participated in one. The geese give you the side-eye and start to flap their wings as you approach. Then, they start to hiss at you, as they continue to flap their wings and run away.
Sometimes, though, they might start to charge.
And if that happens, you’ll have asked for their wrath.
Canada Geese, nearly extirpated in the U.S. in the early 20th century, have rebounded in number — the Department of Environmental Conservation estimates that there are 364,000 geese in NYS — and are now ubiquitous on UB’s campus and many other suburban areas. “Residential” geese are a more recent phenomenon, coinciding with the rise of suburbia. We have made UB the perfect environment for geese: large open grassy spaces, a big lake for their nests and survival. With winters becoming milder — a few major storms per season — many geese have chosen to stay at UB year-round rather than migrating further south. That seems to only be fueling students’ rage at the birds; they never leave.
But it’s not these birds’ fault that our campus is the ideal habitat, nor is it their fault they want to protect themselves from us.
Geese-haters are hypocrites. Everything that students get mad at the geese for, they do themselves. Students express frustration at the geese for littering campus with their poop, but they ignore the trash they themselves leave around campus. Look into Lake LaSalle and you’ll be able to spot a couple of throwaway coffee cups and maybe a Juul.
You know who didn’t drop those in the lake? A goose.
Students litter everywhere: cigarette butts, plastic bottles, grocery bags and lids line the sidewalks and mark the water sources. Sure, geese poop is an inconvenience, but it pales in comparison to the environmental risks posed by our deleterious form of litter.
Students complain the geese are violent, but 89 to 390 million birds, including the slow-moving geese, die every year in collisions with cars and buses.
There has never been a single documented case — not one — of a goose killing a human in an attack.
Sure, there are sometimes close calls, especially on this campus. But the overwhelming majority of the time, we are to blame. We invade their homes, encroach on their flocks and challenge them to protect themselves by chasing after us.
The popular sentiment is that the geese are evil, but are we not to blame for changing our climate and landscape so dramatically that they can now inhabit Buffalo year-round?
We share this campus with the geese; you don’t have to like it but they’re not going anywhere. If you respect the geese, they will not attack you. Going forward, remember that every time you have to quickly sidestep goose poop, humanity is equally as bad and your anger is misdirected.
Julie Frey is the assistant news/features editor and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org
Julie Frey is an assistant news/features editor for The Spectrum.