SI Vault
Edited by Ed Zern
May 14, 1956
Senators clash over the late Bernard DeVoto, an Air Force squadron takes a flyer at conservation and Montana biologists find geese are silly after all
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May 14, 1956

The Outdoor Week

Senators clash over the late Bernard DeVoto, an Air Force squadron takes a flyer at conservation and Montana biologists find geese are silly after all

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When New York City recently announced that it would strip a half acre of Central Park to increase parking facilities for a tavern therein, it ran into vociferous opposition from a bevy of mothers, tree lovers and assorted conservationists. Bulldozers, nevertheless, have a weight advantage over flesh and blood, and while a tearful crowd looked on, four trees went down. The protestants retreated to court requesting a temporary injunction. Last week they got it, and in rendering his decision, State Supreme Court Justice Samuel H. Hofstadter, in an urban application, echoed conservationist sentiment generally.

"It is," the justice stated, "a sufficiently grave question whether a half acre of park land, shrubbery and trees...may be sacrificed to a contemplated use of compounded dubiety; i.e., more parking space (for 80 more cars) for an enlarged cocktail lounge of a plush restaurant."

The justice observed that it seemed "most doubtful if the benevolent and far-sighted genius of Messrs. Olmstead and Vaux who laid out Central Park envisaged a bucolic night club. Certainly it cannot be argued that there is any dearth of cocktail lounges, bars and cabarets in our city and in this very vicinity."

Justice Hofstadter then suggested that perhaps Robert Moses, New York City Commissioner of Parks, regarded a half acre as "de minimis."

"But," he concluded, "no foot, or even inch of park space is expendable in our teeming metropolis."

Most conservationists would add "or anywhere else in the United States."


In a report on the movements of wild geese in the Nine-pipe and Pablo reservoir refuges in the Flathead Valley, Montana Biologists Dwight Stockstad and John Craighead lend considerable weight to the adage "silly as a goose" and fray the popular notion that geese are peculiarly canny in avoiding hunters.

Far from learning shooting hours and staying put during them, the report states, 90% of the geese in Ninepipe and Pablo reservoirs flew out during broad and legal daylight. While at times only 38% of these sailed over waiting guns, that was due more to a lack of hunters than a prevalence of brains among geese. On days of particularly heavy hunter concentration as high as 70%; of the geese honked within range.

Even where there were safe escape routes, few geese used them. "On Nine-pipe reservoir," the report continues, "there were two corridors...where geese could, leave the refuge and attain considerable height before reaching the point where guns could shoot at them. But movement data showed that relatively few flocks utilized these corridors and probably no geese learned that such flight lanes were relatively safe. Certain flocks followed well-defined patterns day after day in spite of formidable arrays of guns and men."

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