Thursday, August 20, 2009

From Endangered To A Nuisance


As a young boy in Wisconsin, I seldom saw a Canadian goose [Branta canadensis]. As I got older and traveled a bit, I noticed more of these birds, notably in the spring and fall. Then it seemed, as if by magic, that they were everywhere... literally.

Our office building had a small reflecting pond, walks, and benches so that the employees could enjoy their lunch breaks. The geese took it over. No one wanted to walk through the bird "droppings" which were more like slime-covered rotting cigars... much less sit next to it.

Golf courses where I played became mine fields of these droppings. I dreaded picking up my golf ball for fear of what might be clinging to it.

The commons behind our home seemed like a goose hotel. Yuck!

Last night, traffic on the 4-lane highway was stopped going south as a flock of geese decided that the 2 southbound lanes were a good place for a family reunion. The drivers of the cars that were first in line were patient... too patient. Traffic backed up. Horns sounded. Finally the lead car in the right lane move forward slowly. The geese slowly moved to the left lane. The driver of the lead car in that lane sat patiently... obviously entranced by birds he had never seen before... at least in the middle of a highway. Finally that car moved forward slowly.

The birds seemed a little miffed at first. The walked randomly back and forth. Suddenly, the geese gave up on the game of "chicken" and flew off toward a nearby lake.

Are these birds really endangered and require protection? This 1996 document from American University argues that the geese of the 1990s are much different than the geese of decades earlier.

The controversy over Canada geese concerns whether or not they
are, in fact, migratory and hence privy to federal protection.
Canada geese--as their name implies--until recent years regularly
migrated to northern Canada for the summer. But over the last 20-
25 years, many geese have chosen to remain south of the border, and
the populations of these non-migratory geese have grown into the
millions, with geese situated in eastern states from Maine down to
Virginia. Aerial observations of some flocks have led to the
conclusion the number of geese has doubled since 1975 and will
continue to grow if present trends continue.

Why have the geese lost their biological impulse to migrate?
Besides protection from game-hunters, the geese have been
encouraged by the spread of suburban developments, corporate parks
and recreational areas. Canada geese prefer the short-cut,
manicured grass found on golf courses and on the properties of
suburban corporate headquarters over the wild tundra of Canada.
The shorter grasses, besides providing a plentiful source of food,
afford the geese security--they can better monitor predators with
the clearer views. Furthermore, the pools and ponds that normally
accompany these developments are perfect sources of still drinking
water. In a short time, then, the geese have learned that the
environment created by humans was much closer to goose paradise
than they would experience in Canada, and chose to stay.

... Thus new methods have
been experimented with to simply chase the geese away from private
and commercial areas. For instance, some people have invested in
grape Kool-Aid powder to sprinkle on lawns; the geese have a
digestive aversion methyl anthranilate, a natural compound found in
grapes that causing a burning sensation in their
stomachs. Border collies have also been employed to shepherd
Canada geese on public spaces onto trailers for transport to
wildlife refuges.
I see a problem with having to sprinkle grape Kool-Aid all over the U.S. east of the Mississippi River.


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Tracking Interest Rates


SEARCH BLOG: FEDERAL RESERVE for full versions... or use the Blog Archive pulldown menu.

February 3, 2006
Go back to 1999-2000 and see what the Fed did. They are following the same pattern for 2005-06. If it ain't broke, the Fed will fix it... and good!
August 29, 2006 The Federal Reserve always acts on old information... and is the only cause of U.S. recessions.
December 5, 2006 Last spring I wrote about what I saw to be a sharp downturn in the economy in the "rustbelt" states, particularly Michigan.
March 28, 2007
The Federal Reserve sees no need to cut interest rates in the light of adverse recent economic data, Ben Bernanke said on Wednesday.
The Fed chairman said ”to date, the incoming data have supported the view that the current stance of policy is likely to foster sustainable economic growth and a gradual ebbing in core inflation”.

July 21, 2007 My guess is that if there is an interest rate change, a cut is more likely than an increase. The key variables to be watching at this point are real estate prices and the inventory of unsold homes.
August 11, 2007 I suspect that within 6 months the Federal Reserve will be forced to lower interest rates before housing becomes a black hole.
September 11, 2007 It only means that the overall process has flaws guaranteeing it will be slow in responding to changes in the economy... and tend to over-react as a result.
September 18, 2007 I think a 4% rate is really what is needed to turn the economy back on the right course. The rate may not get there, but more cuts will be needed with employment rates down and foreclosure rates up.
October 25, 2007 How long will it be before I will be able to write: "The Federal Reserve lowered its lending rate to 4% in response to the collapse of the U.S. housing market and massive numbers of foreclosures that threaten the banking and mortgage sectors."
"Should the elevated turbulence persist, it would increase the possibility of further tightening in financial conditions for households and businesses," he said.

"Uncertainties about the economic outlook are unusually high right now," he said. "These uncertainties require flexible and pragmatic policymaking -- nimble is the adjective I used a few weeks ago."

December 11, 2007 Somehow the Fed misses the obvious.
[Image from:]
December 13, 2007 [from The Christian Science Monitor]
"The odds of a recession are now above 50 percent," says Mark Zandi, chief economist at Moody's "We are right on the edge of a recession in part because of the Fed's reluctance to reduce interest rates more aggressively." [see my comments of September 11]
January 7, 2008 The real problem now is that consumers can't rescue the economy and manufacturing, which is already weakening, will continue to weaken. We've gutted the forces that could avoid a downturn. The question is not whether there will be a recession, but can it be dampened sufficiently so that it is very short.
January 11, 2008 This is death by a thousand cuts.
January 13, 2008 [N.Y. Times]
“The question is not whether we will have a recession, but how deep and prolonged it will be,” said David Rosenberg, the chief North American economist at Merrill Lynch. “Even if the Fed’s moves are going to work, it will not show up until the later part of 2008 or 2009.
January 17, 2008 A few days ago, Anna Schwartz, nonagenarian economist, implicated the Federal Reserve as the cause of the present lending crisis [from the Telegraph - UK]:
The high priestess of US monetarism - a revered figure at the Fed - says the central bank is itself the chief cause of the credit bubble, and now seems stunned as the consequences of its own actions engulf the financial system. "The new group at the Fed is not equal to the problem that faces it," she says, daring to utter a thought that fellow critics mostly utter sotto voce.
January 22, 2008 The cut has become infected and a limb is in danger. Ben Bernanke is panicking and the Fed has its emergency triage team cutting rates... this time by 3/4%. ...

What should the Federal Reserve do now? Step back... and don't be so anxious to raise rates at the first sign of economic improvement.
Individuals and businesses need stability in their financial cost structures so that they can plan effectively and keep their ships afloat. Wildly fluctuating rates... regardless of what the absolute levels are... create problems. Either too much spending or too much fear. It's just not that difficult to comprehend. Why has it been so difficult for the Fed?

About Me

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Michigan, United States
Air Force (SAC) captain 1968-72. Retired after 35 years of business and logistical planning, including running a small business. Two sons with advanced degrees; one with a business and pre-law degree. Beautiful wife who has put up with me for 4 decades. Education: B.A. (Sociology major; minors in philosopy, English literature, and German) M.S. Operations Management (like a mixture of an MBA with logistical planning)