Growing population presents a messy problem but in Switzerland, the problem with an outdoors dummy is in the courtroom

Just about everyone who has read some of my columns is familiar with my opinions on people possessing an urbanized mind-set. 

More often than not, these (often well-meaning) folks do not have the foggiest idea about problems encountered with wildlife. The squirrel in the park that receives peanuts is not supposed to bite a finger. Gulls should not mess up car roofs while begging for more McDonalds tidbits. And raccoons should not scatter trash from trash receptacles as they forage for their own preferred tidbits.

It can be downright humorous how urbanized people think. Canada geese can be wonderful neighbors, so people often encourage them to stay in a given area with free food and even the placement of nesting platforms. But these big birds are survivors first and foremost. If they are encouraged to breed, then they will certainly breed.

A pair of geese trailing eight or 10 fluff balls of downy goslings is one of the prettiest sights in nature. But 10 pair of geese trailing their broods means the potential for problems. And 20 or more pairs, with broods that will grow up to procreate their own goslings, means almost certain trouble for human residents.

I predict there will be some major problems this spring. Virtually every city, town and village along the east coast already has a serious goose problem, and there are countless other communities all across this country facing the same problems. There are simply too many Canada geese all over.

The primary problem is goose poop. Every green area, from city parks to golf courses, is likely to harbor an over-population of these birds. And when they are feeding on lush new spring and summer grasses they will leave behind a lot of goose poop. They will poop some more when they return to their aquatic haunts to rest from all that feeding, fowling the water as well as the grassy areas. (No pun intended.)

This problem, at least for urbanites, will probably never go away. The only answer is to remove all of the geese and make sure no others fill that population void. Addling eggs in the nest will slow the overall population growth, but some nests will not be found. And trapping and transferring the birds is out of the question because there are no goose-free areas left to transfer them to. 

Residents of almost every urban area, be it city or suburb, will continue to suffer from wildlife related problems into the foreseeable future. Geese, deer, coyotes, raccoons and other species will continue to flourish as long as scientific wildlife management is ignored. And urbanites are usually good at ignoring science in favor of the heart.

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Over the years I have covered a number of dumb outdoor crook stories, along with other situations where people did less than smart things while recreating afield, astream or aforest. But never have I covered a dumb outdoor lawyer. Until now, that is.

Switzerland is well known for its excellent chocolate and its silent banks and bankers. It is less well known for its kooky pet, livestock and wildlife laws.  It currently has laws that prohibit keeping only one bird in a cage, tying a horse in a stall, or a single pig in a pen because those activities constitute “solitary confinement,” which of course in cruel and unusual punishment. (Honestly folks, you just cannot make this stuff up.)

And a while ago, it outlawed catch-and-release fishing as also being too cruel.  Of course that means catching and killing fish is less cruel than catching and then releasing those fish to swim away and live, if that makes any sense at all.

But now we come to the lawyer in question.  He happens to be Europe’s only known “animal lawyer.”  And last month he took an angler to court for catching a northern pike.  But the lawyer’s complaint was not that the angler caught the pike because this species is a legal game fish.  No, the complaint was that defendant, the angler in this case, “tortured” the poor victim because he took more than 10 minutes to fight and land the (now dead) complainant (the aforementioned pike).  

This legal eagle of a lawyer convinced the head honcho of the “canon” (the Swiss legal district) where the pike met its unfortunate and untimely demise to pay his $185 per hour fee for representing the (still dead) complainant and prosecuting the loathsome, evil angler for his torturous activities.  (Fortunately northern pike are incapable of being water-boarded, and they do not have fingernails, or there may have been even more charges piled on that villainous angler.) 

On second thought, I have to admit that any lawyer who can represent a dead fish and get the representative of a country to pay his rather impressive legal fees can’t be all that dumb after all.  Which does not speak very highly of the country that pays those fees, does it?

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The other day I had a little spare time (but don’t tell the little wifey — she thinks I was scrubbing out the laundry tub). And I got to thinking about all the totally useless facts I have stored up in the gray matter over the years. I will confess that it was a really scary six minutes.

For instance, did you know that polar bears can smell a seal from 20 miles away? Or that the South American capybara is the world's largest rodent, and can weigh well over 100 pounds? Or that the heart of an adult giraffe weighs an average of 25 pounds?

So why do I foist this completely useless information on you, my 47 semi-regular readers? Beats me. But after covering an animal lawyer that gets $185 per hour to represent a dead fish, it just seemed like a good idea.

Len Lisenbee is the Daily Messenger’s Outdoor Columnist.  Contact him at lisenbee@