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What's good for the goose?
July 19, 2010 10:43 PM   Subscribe

Why shouldn't I eat a goose from Central Park?

Inspired by the mass culling of geese in Prospect Park -- and the outrage over the fact that if you're going to kill them, you may as well eat them ...

What are the legal, ethical, and/or health-related issues associated with grabbing a goose from the park one night and eating it for Sunday dinner the next day?

*Question applies to any urban park, not just Central Park.
posted by awenner to Food & Drink (21 answers total) 6 users marked this as a favorite
 
H5N1 (Avian Flu)
posted by special-k at 10:47 PM on July 19, 2010


Legal: misdemeanor or worse citation if you get caught hunting where you're not supposed to and without a license.

Ethical: Maybe others like going to the park to see the (mean, nasty) geese and you're depriving them of that.

Health: Probably depends on what the thing ate. If you cook it well it's probably just as safe as any factory farmed chicken.

In short, hunting wild animals in public spaces would send a signal to anyone who found out that you are a desperately crazy person who needs financial and psychological assistance. Wait until times are much much tougher before you try something like that.
posted by Burhanistan at 10:49 PM on July 19, 2010 [2 favorites]


You missed taste related issues, and that would be the a slight garbage taste to the meat because most urban animals don't eat the same diet that their rural brethren do.
posted by sleslie at 10:53 PM on July 19, 2010


You missed taste related issues, and that would be the a slight garbage taste to the meat because most urban animals don't eat the same diet that their rural brethren do.

I'm not so sure. Most of the waterfowl in parks that I see are well fed on a diet of grains from people feeding them, and supplemented with frogs from the ponds.
posted by Burhanistan at 10:56 PM on July 19, 2010 [1 favorite]


The Migratory Bird Treaty Act of 1918 [pdf] protects several species of geese, including Canada geese, even when the bird is a year round resident and doesn't actually migrate. You can hunt geese—even those on the MBTA list—during goose hunting season provided you hunt from authorized areas, observe bag limits and have a hunting license(s), register with HIP and buy a federal duck stamp.

Failing to do the above and getting caught with your dead goose would get quite expensive.
posted by jamaro at 11:05 PM on July 19, 2010 [3 favorites]


If you're curious, the Fish and Wildlife Service has a document about residential goose management.
posted by hydrophonic at 11:08 PM on July 19, 2010


Avian Flu FAQ from Iowa State University:

Is it safe to eat wild game birds that I have shot?

To date, no wild migratory birds have been found with the virus in North America. If you hunt, there are some precautions that you should take when handling harvested birds. The National Wildlife Health Center recommends that hunters:

Sick or diseased birds should be avoided.
Wear disposable durable gloves while handling and dressing birds.
Practice good hand hygiene by washing your hands with soap after dressing the birds. If your hands are not visibly soiled, alcohol based (62% minimum ethyl alcohol) hand sanitizers will work. You must cover all surfaces of your hand with the sanitizer and it must remain for 15 seconds.
Do not cross contaminate yourself during dressing by smoking, eating or drinking.
Cook all game birds to 165°F minimum.

posted by Bwithh at 11:50 PM on July 19, 2010


Another ethical problem with taking animals from a public park in an urban area is that populations in the area are not large enough to sustain many people doing so. So, who gets to and why? What happened in Central Park is obviously an exception; if the city is going to kill off the entire population, why not eat some first

I live a short walk from a large forested park with its own population of turkeys. On the other side of the park is a more rural neighborhood and I know for a fact that at least a few people living over there take turkeys on occasion. These people are also middle class professionals, so this sort of thing is not just for the desperate, weird, or financially distressed.
posted by Derive the Hamiltonian of... at 2:27 AM on July 20, 2010


Another ethical problem with taking animals from a public park in an urban area is that populations in the area are not large enough to sustain many people doing so. So, who gets to and why?

This is only a problem in theory, as almost nobody 1) has the good idea to do this and 2) the balls to carry it off. So not really a problem - you get to eat them, should you choose to accept this mission.

Why shouldn't I eat a goose from Central Park?

You should. Carpe diem!
posted by Meatbomb at 4:34 AM on July 20, 2010 [2 favorites]


The Eskimo word for a goose is nigeluk, which is also the sound used to call them, roughly onomatopoeic with their call. Delicious, right down to the brains and feet.

Crafty buggers too. They generally know to avoid getting in shotgun range of humans on the ground, which is why you have to be very well camouflaged and dug in so they don't see you until it's too late.

I'm trying to imagine digging a goose blind in Central Park. That's probably a bigger crime than killing the goose itself.
posted by fourcheesemac at 5:29 AM on July 20, 2010


Also, if you think killing a goose is easy, you should go hunting properly first. Almost never do they die from the first shot even when it's a good one. They'll fight like crazy even when mortally wounded, so you have to get them by the neck and twist, fast and hard. I doubt it's as easy as it might seem to just walk up to a goose, even an urban one, grab it, and kill it by hand.

So the really tricky part of this is walking through Central Park with a loaded 12 gauge. Good luck with that.
posted by fourcheesemac at 5:32 AM on July 20, 2010 [1 favorite]


I know someone who did it. Long time ago. I was 12. My friend had a handyman working around his house. Guy was a WW II vet and quite frankly a little "off". Tough as nails. Anyway, one day we are sitting at the kitchen table when in walks HM. He starts telling this story to my friend's mom. "So I am down at the duck pond and I see some tasty looking birds. I go to my car and get a burlap sack. I start calling "Here duckie duckie, here duckie duckie." Sure enough with some bread in hand he comes close enough to snatch and put into the sack. I snap his neck and take him home to Joanie (his wife) and she is plucking and cooking in no time."

We sat there in amazement and fear. Those were the ducks we had fed a few years ago when we were toddlers. I finally got the courage to ask, "How was it?" "Damn good bird" was all he said and he walked away. I know the story is true because I once watched him stitch up his cut arm with a needle and thread he got from the junk draw in the kitchen. Put in 5 stitches right in front of me. Pre-teen boys are impressed by this.
posted by JohnnyGunn at 6:27 AM on July 20, 2010 [2 favorites]


I also know someone who did this (poached a Canada goose) and he reported back that it tasted terrible, so YMMV.
posted by jquinby at 7:20 AM on July 20, 2010


Well, down here you can be arrested even for taking a duck with intent to consume - god only knows what the penalties would be for trying to take a goose.
posted by komara at 7:22 AM on July 20, 2010


If these are Canada geese: you don't want to eat them because they taste terrible. Just awful. Gamey, tough, nasty, yuck. When I was in my early teens my dad decided it would be a good idea to have a traditional old fashioned roast goose dinner for the holidays so he went out to the lake and shot one. (Nevermind that they were a protected species and that was illegal at the time). It was a monumental disaster that the family still talks about... I can still remember that awful taste in my mouth. Ugh. And we ate a lot of wild game growing up, but that goose... that goose haunts my dreams.
posted by cuddles.mcsnuggy at 7:26 AM on July 20, 2010


What are the legal, ethical, and/or health-related issues associated with grabbing a goose from the park one night and eating it for Sunday dinner the next day?

Legally, as mentioned above, the Migratory Bird Treaty Act makes it illegal to 'take' migratory birds, their feathers, eggs or nests (which includes most bird species in the US and Canada). Take in this case is defined as "by any means or in any manner, any attempt at hunting, pursuing, wounding, killing, possessing or transporting any migratory bird, nest, egg, or part thereof." Some species, such as the Canada Goose, can be hunted during proper seasons, in the proper areas and with restrictions on the number of birds that can be killed. Fish and Wildlife officers or researchers can get exceptions to these rules for scientific or management purposes.

Ethically, they're not your (as an individual) birds. They are the government's (i.e. we all own a bit of them). You would be stealing. I think you could also make the argument that this is not a behaviour you'd want to encourage in others. It's be fine if you took a bird, but then your neighbour finds out and they take a bird and then the family down the street takes a couple for Christmas dinner and then all of you take just one more before there are none left...and the geese are gone. Tragedy of Commons.

Health-relatedly, they can carry a lot of diseases besides avian flu such as salmonella, avian pox and West Nile virus. These probably wouldn't be a problem if you ate the birds since cooking would probably kill the virus/bacteria. Also they probably have feather mites.

Taste-wise, although you didn't ask, pretty good! Not as good as a White-fronted Goose but still yummy. Especially if you wrap the breast meat around a cream-cheese stuffed jalapeno and then wrap the whole thing in bacon and barbeque it.

You know what you should be eating more of? Snow Geese. Those guys are destroying the Arctic and getting fat on US corn fields over the winter. Eat all you can.
posted by hydrobatidae at 8:47 AM on July 20, 2010


Since everyone's already nicely covered the legal, ethical, health, and taste issues, I'll bring up another problem that hasn't been mentioned: the practical considerations.

At night, goose sleep under cover. I'm not sure if you'd be able to sneak up on one at night. Can you find them? By flashlight? Is that a realistic scenario for Central Park, to be poking around the shoreline with a flashlight? (I know nothing of Central Park but what I've seen in the movies.)

During the day, sure, they'll walk right up to you. You could pop a pillowcase over one without too much trouble. Except that those fuckers are huge, and will beat your ass. There's a reason people shoot them from a distance.

Geese put up a fight, is what I'm saying. And be aware that human onlookers will probably take the goose's side in the dispute.

You obviously don't want to shoot or stab one in broad daylight. That's not how you want to end up in the newspaper. So let's say somehow you manage to find one at night and snap its neck with your hands. (I wouldn't try to stab it; you'll just ruin the meat. Actually I have no idea how you'd kill a goose with your bare hands. Nor would I want to try it. (c.f. getting your ass well and truly beaten.))

Let's skip past that. You are now standing in Central Park holding a dead goose. Or perhaps running away from the rest of the flock which are chasing you with fire in their eyes HONK HONK A'HONK. (Geese will move to protect a flock member in danger.)

Now you need to get it home. This isn't how you want the cops to find you; hunched over the dismembered corpse of a goose in Central Park at two in the morning. I'm not sure if a Canada goose would fit in a backpack. Maybe a duffel bag.

If you're a New Yorker I assume you won't have driven a car to the park. You are now in a position of having to take a cab, walk the streets, or ride the subway while carrying a dead goose in a duffel bag.

Note: I recommend putting the goose's body into a garbage bag first, so that it doesn't start dripping blood. The last thing you want to have to do is explain to someone that the reason your heavy duffel bag is dripping blood is that there's a dead goose inside. Not a hooker, I swear! It's a goose! No, wait, please don't call the cops, that's not necessary, I promise!

Now that you're home, you need to pluck it, and carefully remove the viscera. Are you prepared to disassemble an entire goose? You will need a sharp knife, a strong stomach, and probably a garbage disposal.

Be sure to double-bag everything, so that the nice old lady down the hall doesn't encounter a bunch of bloody feathers and a pair of goose feet when she goes to take out her trash. Her heart probably can't stand the strain.
posted by ErikaB at 10:22 AM on July 20, 2010 [11 favorites]


I'd just like thank everyone here for not calling them "Canadian geese".
posted by rhombus at 10:34 AM on July 20, 2010


You could probably decapitate one with a sword pretty easily. Just walk away and let the body bleed out. Then have a second person dressed as park clean up crew come in and scoop it up all official like.
posted by abc123xyzinfinity at 3:07 PM on July 20, 2010 [2 favorites]


You know what you should be eating more of? Snow Geese. Those guys are destroying the Arctic and getting fat on US corn fields over the winter. Eat all you can.

Shot several back in May, not bad eating actually.
posted by fourcheesemac at 4:02 AM on July 21, 2010


Now that you're home, you need to pluck it, and carefully remove the viscera. Are you prepared to disassemble an entire goose?

Naw, just breast it. The rest of the meat on a wild bird is usually way too much work for too little gain. And snows are yummie.
posted by jamaro at 2:18 PM on July 21, 2010


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