As recently as 1960, the giant Canada goose was thought to be totally extinct, until a few determined specimens were found hanging around Minnesota. Vowing to atone for our extinction addiction, and probably disappointed that the "giant" goose wasn't actually the size of a pterodactyl, we put a breeding program into effect to bring the Canada goose back from the brink. A few short decades later, our efforts have proven a resounding success. So successful, in fact, that now we're trying to kill them before they kill us.
That's gratitude for you.
A population estimate of giant Canada geese reports that there are millions of them now, spread out across the United States and Canada, and that their numbers have increased by 3 percent each year from 1998 to 2007. Highly adaptable and living as long as 25 years, they feel perfectly at home in suburbia, cheerfully pooping in parks, beaches, lawns and swimming pools. In 2009, a French outdoor leisure center actually had to be closed down due to a superabundance of goose shit that turned it into a giant disease-ridden slip-n-slide.
If you're ever visiting Maine, you might want to consider a hat.
They've become so comfortable that many of them don't even bother to migrate, deciding to carpet bomb our minivans with excrement full time. That's pretty aggravating for humans, but Canada geese in the wild are downright hazardous to their fellow fowl. They're so territorial that they will actively prevent other species of birds from settling anywhere near their territories, thereby cramping those birds' reproduction chances.
Manitoba Dept. of Conservation
"You gonna have sex? We'll just sit over here and watch. You won't even notice us."
And they're not just assholes to other birds, either. Not particularly impressed with our attempted genocide, they have no fear of humans and will attack you, too, if they find you in their territory. And increasingly, "their territory" refers to "the North American continent."
"Quick! Shit in the wound!"
And you'd be foolish to believe that they won't just kill your ass. Bird strikes in the U.S. cause over $600 million in damage to both civilian and military aircraft per year, and have been directly responsible for the deaths of 219 people since 1988. And the Canada goose has most definitely distinguished itself as a major culprit -- there have been about 1,350 geese/aircraft collisions in the last 20 years. Friends, that's no accident.
"I could see it right before impact, and it was smiling. It was smiling."
You can email Meg at megstasia or follow her on Twitter.
For more animals designed to destroy us, check out 6 Animals That Just Don't Give A F#@k and 7 Animals That Are One Flaw Away From Taking Over the World.