I have often heard seagulls referred to as flying rats. They are scavengers that serve no purpose, except to snatch our sandwiches on the beach or, inexplicably, roam the ShopRite parking lot in search of a good number at the deli counter.
Yesterday, after almost driving into a Canada goose while mistaking it for a Smart Car, I sat in my car on Haines Drive, waiting for my heart to slow down. The goose did not have a similar reaction. It looked vacantly at my car then trundled toward a gaggle of its brethren loitering and honking near the cement Teddy Bear sculpture.
Branta Canadensis maxima is the Latin name for public enemy No. 1, the Canada goose; that waddling excrement factory that serves no other purpose than to besmirch our parks and ball fields. In Pennsylvania, there is a full-time population of more than 230,000 goose residents producing about 11,500 pounds of droppings EVERY DAY. Take a stroll onto Memorial Field or the idyllic Strawbridge Lake area and try to make it back to your car without an accumulation of goose poop on the bottom of your shoes.
Although I haven’t seen them lately, I know that at one time there were border collies patrolling Strawbridge Lake. A local resident told me that the border collies left Mo’town to work with Charlie Sheen, herding him away from danger and/or prostitutes. It doesn’t seem to be working, Lassie.
What are other towns doing to get rid of those pesky waddlers? Downingtown, PA, tried using inflatable crocodiles in their lake. It didn’t work, although Action News was right there with cameras and a theme song entitled “The Crocodile Invasion…What YOU Need to Know.” Other towns have tried fireworks, spraying corn oil on goose eggs, rap music, a romantic dinner and dog decoys, to no avail. Oh, and the less-inviting vegetation that was planted by Strawbridge Lake to deter the geese? Not working, people! Those fat poop-producers are here to stay, and tough-talking ex-Philadelphia mayor Frank Rizzo might in some small way have contributed to their burgeoning population. In the 1970s, Mayor Rizzo set aside money to feed the goose gang along the Schuylkill River. He didn’t like wise guys but loved wise geese. Geese are so intelligent that some of them have even written best sellers and served on town council!
The "live-and-let-live" faction does not want to see any involvement from the Wildlife Service, whose method of downsizing is to addle the goose eggs and gas some of the nesting geese. We here at Mason Labs have a better idea.
Ever since last year’s fatal Duck Boat accident on the Delaware River, the city has been going back and forth on the future of “Ride the Ducks” in Philadelphia. For a while there was talk of moving the boats to the Schuylkill River where, presumably, they’d meet up with Mayor Rizzo’s geese, lay a few eggs, honk a lot and anger the Boat House Rowers. A route was proposed then shot down (not by hunters) by citizens who protested that the stately Schuylkill was the wrong spot for a bunch of quacking tourists.
Despite the fact that the Ride the Ducks president, Chris Herschend, said his company had operated more than 40,000 trips in Philadelphia without incident BEFORE the fatal accident, I don’t know why anyone would ride those silly amphibious contraptions. I can just see myself now, trying to convince a loved one to ride the Ducks.
“Come on, sweetheart! Let’s take a quick jaunt through the narrow streets of Philly where everyone will be gawking at us and muttering derogatory expressions under their breath. After we grow weary of that, we’ll glide into the Delaware River, smack dab into the middle of a shipping lane filled with tug boats, barges and dead bodies. There will be plenty of life vests to play with onboard, since the crew will not demonstrate physically how to put them on. Instead, they will do a delightful mime presentation, using graphic hand signals picked up from old swabbies. If the various ship captains are not busy having cell phone conversations or texting, we might make it back to shore in one piece. Perhaps two.”
I have several thoughts on these two fowl problems. Moorestown needs more revenue. Ratables are down, businesses are not thronging to our fair village. One idea is to move Ride the Ducks to Strawbridge Lake. There, we could demonstrate to the tourists how we throw away our money on lake dredging as we glide amongst the lily pads and alleged "less inviting" foliage. The passengers will be encouraged to solve the mystery of the red "no skating" flag that flies year round, even in August. After an exciting detour through the water filtration plant, the tour would continue to the Town Hall/Library parking lot to marvel at how such an affluent town cannot seem to move forward on a new complex. The librarians will happily pose for pictures once it has been determined that there are no outstanding fines.
But wait! There’s more! Let’s turn our overabundance of geese into part of the Ride the Ducks experience! As we glide along Haines Drive, the tourists will have all kinds of close encounters with the geese. Children will have a chance to run from the vehicle to the tot lot. Those that make it back with clean shoes will get a prize (a hazmat suit). Another fun activity would be "free pillow stuffing." The tourists would be motored to a nesting area, where they would gather as many feathers as they wanted, to make a souvenir of their fabulous trip to Moorestown.
So you see, I’ve managed to kill two birds with one stone…figuratively speaking. If you’d like in on the ground floor of this incredible plan, please send cash in any denomination to me, care of Patch. I promise not to goose you.