Friday, October 20, 2006

"New" Source For Water Pollution

Note: When I was having so much back pain that I couldn't do much blogging, I saved a stack of newspaper and news-magazine articles which I found interesting. The following blog is based on one of those hoarded articles. All emphases are mine.

Photo from the Washington Post
Sometimes a story comes along and makes the reader say, "Duh!" Such a story appeared on the front page of the September 28, 2006 edition of the Washington Post. Excerpt from "Wildlife Waste Is Major Water Polluter, Studies Say":
"Scientists have run high-tech tests on harmful bacteria in local rivers and streams [in Virginia and Maryland] and found that many of the germs -- and in the Potomac and Anacostia rivers, a majority of them -- come from wildlife dung. The strange proposition that nature is apparently polluting itself has created a serious conundrum for government officials charged with cleaning up the rivers.

"Part of the problem lies with the unnaturally high populations of deer, geese and raccoons living in modern suburbs and depositing their waste there. But officials say it would be nearly impossible, and wildly unpopular, to kill or relocate enough animals to make a dent in even that segment of the pollution.

"That leaves scientists and environmentalists struggling with a more fundamental question: How clean should we expect nature to be? In certain cases, they say, the water standards themselves might be flawed, if they appear to forbid something as natural as wild animals leaving their dung in the woods."
Not serious, you say? Sometimes waxing eloquent and even calling upon historical background (which is, of course, unverifiable), some animal lovers refuse to accept the data from the study and want to discount the findings:

"'If you were here when Captain John Smith rode up the Anacostia River [in 1608], and you tested the water, it would probably have a good bit of coliform in it' because of wildlife,' said Robert Boone, president of an environmental group called the Anacostia Watershed Society."
Maybe so. But throughout D.C. and the close-in suburbs here, we have deer, geese, muskrats, raccoons, and a variety of other wild animals leaving their little gifts. According to the article, such leavings are having an impact beyond the nuisance of dealing with goose droppings in the area's swimming pools and on golf courses, cemetery markers, and our freshly washed vehicles:
"In the Washington area, violations of the bacteria standards have put more than two dozen streams, including the Potomac and Anacostia rivers, on the federal 'impaired waters' list. That means they do not meet the ideal conditions for swimming and need cleaning up....

"In the Potomac and the Anacostia, for instance, more than half of the bacteria in the streams came from wild creatures. EPA documents show that similar problems were found in Maryland, where wildlife were more of a problem than humans and livestock combined in the Magothy River, and in Northern Virginia tributaries such as Accotink Creek, where geese were responsible for 24 percent of bacteria, as opposed to 20 percent attributable to people.

"'Wildlife consistently came up as being . . . a major player,' said Peter Gold, an environmental scientist for the EPA.

"To some scientists, this makes perfect sense. They point out that a few wild animals have managed to thrive in the environments that humans create: Deer feast on suburban flowers; raccoons raid backyard pet-food bowls. Nonmigratory Canada geese, descended in part from geese brought to this area as live hunting decoys, have fallen so much in love with golf courses and groomed city parks that their East Coast population now stands at 1.1 million.

"It could be the ultimate irony of people's impact on nature that the entire system has changed so radically that wild animals now degrade their own environment. More animals means more bacteria-laden waste. Some of that is swept by storm water into rivers and streams."
What to do?
"[I]t is one thing to blame wild animals for pollution and another to figure out how to get them to stop....

"[Scientists] determined that there needed to be an 83 percent reduction in the amount of waste that wildlife left directly in streams."

"But even the scientists who make these determinations say such a large reduction is unlikely. Although Maryland does kill a few hundred geese annually to reduce water pollution, and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service last month relaxed its rules to make it easier to kill geese for public-health reasons, no officials in this area have plans to kill or remove wildlife on a scale large enough to make a difference to the waterways."
Thinning the ranks of Bambis or Rascals is, to say the least, distasteful to animal lovers. All those years of Disney movies, National Geographic, and Animal Kingdom have caused a lot of people to anthropomorphize and idealize living with wild creatures.

The final conundrum, according to the last pargraph of the article:
"'Has anybody studied about fish?' quipped David Feld, national program director for a Falls Church-based group called GeesePeace, which seeks nonlethal ways of controlling goose populations. 'How much fish contribute?'"
I can see the line forming for the grants now, as various groups apply for funds to conduct studies as to how much fish contribute to water pollution.


At 10/20/2006 8:22 AM, Blogger The Merry Widow said...

As a science major I find this absolutely hilarious! People are so divorced from animal reality, they can't connect the dots between animals and hamburgers! Heck, if the geese, ducks, deer and raccoons are reduced the predators in the zoos would be very happy. And healthier!
As knowledge increases, so does stupidity!
Good morning, G*D bless and Maranatha!


At 10/20/2006 8:31 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I think we should require the fish to wear diapers.

At 10/20/2006 11:19 AM, Blogger Always On Watch said...

I think we should require the fish to wear diapers.

Hehehe. I can see it now. I whole new industry!

Excellent point about the zoos. Some zoo animals have contracted deadly diseases from the intruders.

Many wild animals like to eliminate over water. And rabies can be contracted by rabid animals sharing the same water source.

I should write up and post my story "My Summer as a Trapper in the Suburbs."

In fact, there now are at least two firms of professional trappers in the D.C. suburbs; these companies try to rid homeowners of infestations. Certain areas here are overrun. And there is nothing cute about a raccoon who invades and destroys an entire room. There is also nothing funny about a fox pursuing a toddler across one's own yard. Both such events have happened in recent years in the close-in suburbs.

At 10/20/2006 12:20 PM, Blogger The Merry Widow said...

Squirrels are nothing to frolic with either! At college, some girls left their dorm room window open, a squirrel got in...they can be quite aggressive! Especially if people feed them.


At 10/20/2006 1:09 PM, Blogger Brooke said...

I suppose that the animal lovers will blame us, as we are "encroaching" on the hapless animal's territory.

TMW, my Dane keeps my yard relatively squirrel free... As soon as the back door opens, they run for the trees!

To my thinking, the water standards themselves are likely unrealistic, and the need to thin the population is reasonable.

If you have the misfortune of having a pond on your property and it is beset with geese, it is illegal to kill them. Nevermind that they are on YOUR property, pooping everywhere, and they are not an endangered species at all.

I tell you, it would be perfect to thin the geese population about Christmas time; to hunt your own, and sell the birds cheaply at local grocers, or hell, even donate them to poor families so that they can have a feast!

At 10/20/2006 1:23 PM, Blogger Mr. Ducky said...

Not a bad idea Brroke. They're a terrible nuisance but they are also terrible eating. Virtually inedible.

At 10/20/2006 2:26 PM, Blogger nanc said...

pate de fois gras.

At 10/20/2006 3:09 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I'll bring the quackers, nanc! Who's got the beer?

...on second thought...maybe I'll skip this party.

At 10/20/2006 5:07 PM, Anonymous Seth said...

This news must be causing some degree of scurrying at the HQs of a few animal rights and environmental groups, LOL.

The very "victims" that keep them in business are endangering one another and polluting the environment, that's rich!

From my own experiences with liberals, you will see a tightening of the jaw and hear nothing on the subject from most of them -- if you bring it up, they will dismiss it out of hand -- except, of course, the ones who have the wherewithal to milk some govt research grants, or those who can find a way to blame it all on Man, America, or, more conveniently, George Bush.

At 10/20/2006 7:44 PM, Blogger Always On Watch said...

Brooke & Duck,

Duck said,
They're a terrible nuisance but they are also terrible eating. Virtually inedible.

I know that from personal experience dating back to my teens. Mom roasted one in the oven; the more we chewed, the "bigger" the bite got.

Then again, Mom didn't have a crock pot, nor did she marinate the goose properly. Cooking that goose was one of her few failures as a cook. Geese have lots of fat, so a way to drain off some of that fat would be necessary.

Perhaps a wild-game cookbook has some good recipes, even for wild geese.

At 10/20/2006 7:47 PM, Blogger Always On Watch said...

The very "victims" that keep them in business are endangering one another and polluting the environment, that's rich!

Since that story in the WaPo, I haven't heard a word about the fact that wildlife are polluting our water supply. I haven't checked any of the love-the-wildlife web sites to see if they're in a tizzy.

At 10/20/2006 7:51 PM, Blogger Always On Watch said...

Squirrels are nothing to frolic with either!

A few years ago, squirrels chewed through my cousin-in-law's attic wiring. The house, just two blocks from here, burst into flames! Fortunately, my cousin-in-law wasn't home, but the entire dwelling was gutted and no longer habitable. So what did the county do? They cited her house as a hazard, and it cost her a small fortune to get it boarded up. To add insult to injury, the county refused to zero out her assesment because "the foundation was still usable." Hardly! The house was a bungalow of the type built just after WWII, so nobody would ever use that foundation to rebuild.

At 10/20/2006 8:36 PM, Blogger Old Soldier said...

AOW, this kind of reminds me about the polution liberals bring to the political stream... they, too, are prone to crap on traditional values like personal responsibility, consequences for actions, etc.

Sorry, back on topic... it must be linked to global warming. (Well, Seth already used the blame Bush line.)

At 10/20/2006 9:02 PM, Blogger Always On Watch said...

Old Soldier,
it must be linked to global warming

I haven't heard that excuse yet, but I wouldn't be surprised to hear it. No way will the environmentalists admit that they've fouled up.

At 10/20/2006 10:02 PM, Blogger Old Soldier said...

AOW, don't you mean, 'fowled up?'

At 10/21/2006 12:03 AM, Blogger Gayle said...

LOL! Geese in America aren't fed properly, and that's why they taste terrible. They are too fat and half greese. They are extremely greasy geese. When we lived in Germany for seven years because Walt was in the Army, goose was a delicacy. The difference was amazing. It's all in the feed. But please don't ask my what our Geese are eating here and what they eat in Germany because I haven't got a clue. I did once, but I don't remember. Senility is a beotch! ;)

Regarding global warming, the attack of the Stingrays is already being blamed on global warming, as you know.
Just you watch, if we win the next election, the Demon-rats will blame it on Global Warming.

At 10/21/2006 1:12 AM, Blogger kuhnkat said...

Finally a post the "Ducky" has a personal stake in, or is that personal breast or drumstick??


At 10/21/2006 7:29 AM, Blogger Always On Watch said...

Finally a post the "Ducky" has a personal stake in, or is that personal breast or drumstick??

I can hear Duck quacking now: "Eat beef!"

At 10/21/2006 7:41 AM, Blogger Always On Watch said...

Old Soldier,
AOW, don't you mean, 'fowled up?'

Good pun!

I believe that there is a difference in the taste of wild goodse and domesticated goose. As you mentioned, one factor causing that difference is the feed.

Venison can differ in taste as well. Corn-fed deer (the ones raiding gardens in the counties to the west of us) don't have the "wild taste" when they're prepared for the table; our friend Walt used to hunt in those counties, and we prepared the meat with ease. But the deer my father used to bring home from his hunting trips in the mountains had a strong, "wild" taste.

In Dickens's A Christmas Carol, goose is mentioned as THE dish for Christmas. I'm sure that particular goose was of the domestic variety. English Christmas carol:

Christmas is coming,
The goose is getting fat.
Oh, won't you spare a penny
For a poor man's hat?
If you don't have a penny,
A ha'penny will do.
If you don't have a ha'penny,
Then God bless you!

At 10/21/2006 2:38 PM, Blogger Always On Watch said...

To my thinking, the water standards themselves are likely unrealistic, and the need to thin the population is reasonable.

Sensible ideas, but I don't expect them to take hold with the local governments here.

At 10/22/2006 9:36 AM, Blogger Brooke said...

Oh, I'm sure they wouldn't want to be painted as "heartless animal killers" or "destroying the environment" by the PeTA and green sets.

At 10/22/2006 10:19 AM, Blogger Always On Watch said...

When the above groups don't have potable water, they might change their minds--or not.

At 10/22/2006 1:29 PM, Blogger Mr. Beamish the Instablepundit said...


If God didn't intend us to eat fried chicken, he wouldn't have made their flesh so tasty.

At 10/22/2006 6:19 PM, Blogger Always On Watch said...

Mr. Beamish,
Nothin' like good Southern-cooked fried chicken!

At 10/22/2006 9:34 PM, Blogger kuhnkat said...

I would go for the water standards being a little high.

In Nevada there is a small town that was fighting the new water standards. Their water supply, an unpolluted natural river, has arsenic. The town has never noted a higher incidence of any disease or health problem associated with arsenic. That makees no difference to the EPA. They MUST build a new, extremely expensive, water treatment plant, to process the natural water supply to FEDERAL standards!!

I believe they will probably end up on the Federal dole for money to build the plant which they can not afford to build themselves. Isn't Big Bro wonderful??


At 10/23/2006 12:34 PM, Blogger Always On Watch said...

I'm sure that a few other locations have something similar to what you describe.

Interesting...This morning on FNC I heard somebody (An EPA spokesman?) speak of lowering the water standards. The story went by quickly, so I didn't get the details. Perhaps the info will appear later on FNC's web site.


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