As a result of our experience in running a save-the-geese campaign we have learned a great deal. We felt it was important to pass along our knowledge in the hope that new groups will have a better starting point for their campaign than we did. If you have suggestions to add, please contact us and we will add them. The suggestions are in a random order; new suggestions will usually be added to the bottom of the list.
Get Organized QUICKLY — Time is of the essence. The sooner you get organized, the better your chance of a successful outcome. A large united group of volunteers is more effective than a bunch of individuals campaigning separately.
Give you group a name —This is important so you can speak for a group, instead of as an individual. A group name adds legitimacy to your campaign.
Don’t wait for someone to get started and organize a group — Put up signs, make phone calls, send e-mails to find others willing to volunteer. The sooner you find others who want to help, the better. Once you find each other, someone else can take the lead if you don’t want to do it!
Create an e-mail mailing list of volunteers — This is important for making plans. You can also use the “reply to all” function to run e-mail meetings if you have trouble getting the group together for meetings. It also keeps your discussions and plans private (see note under social media). Make sure to select a volunteer to maintain the list for the group.
Schedule meetings and make plans — Whether it is done in person, via e-mail or over the phone. You need to hold discussions and make plans. Assign tasks to volunteers so more can be accomplished in a shorter period of time.
Create a website for your group — This allows you to give interested people a place to look for information on your campaign. It also allows potential volunteers to find you and it provides legitimacy to your campaign. Your campaign will likely last for several years, so you will need a place to post events and news. Note: If you want a website created for your group, please contact us. We can add you to our root www.savethegeese.ca/your name.
Create a formal proposal — This will show that you are committed to the project and have thought things through. A good proposal may actually prevent a cull! We felt this was so important, we have added a page to our site (Proposal Suggestions) to provide suggestions for your proposal.
Avoid social media (such as Facebook) if possible — Facebook campaigns can help you to find volunteers, but they can also lead to a great deal of frustration. If you have an open site, people in favour of killing the geese may come onto your site. This can lead to nasty exchanges and threats, and can be completely counter productive. It can also chase potential volunteers away! (Trust us on this one…) Another thing to note, these type of campaigns put everything out in the open. You may want to make your plans in private; especially if you plan to protest. If you do use this method, we suggest you create a private group with members that you have found on the site that you feel would be helpful in your fight. It is best to use a private group or e-mail “meetings” more often than “open” social media.
Contact the jurisdiction and try to get a meeting — Before you get too far into your campaign, try to set up a meeting with the location that is planning the cull. If they are willing to speak with you and listen to your plans, you are 1/2 way to achieving your goal! A location that will not respond to you has already decided that there is nothing you can do to stop them!! If you schedule a meeting, you should try to have a complete proposal to hand out or at least a well thought out “preliminary proposal”. Make sure you are well organized and have your facts straight — the geese are depending on the success of your meeting. Select volunteers that are well spoken and level headed to attend the meeting. Dress for “business” and be RESPECTFUL.
Be very careful with the media — The media can be extremely helpful, but they are also a double edged sword. The media typically will take whatever the location tells them at face value and print it as fact. Be very careful NOT to allow them opening to make your group look bad. If you choose to deal with the media make sure knowledgeable, well spoken, calm representatives are chosen. Do NOT allow “any random person” from your group to speak for you; this can lead to misinformation, overly passionate “zealous” comments, etc. and can actually damage your campaign.
Make a contact list or people/groups to call, e-mail or phone — Make a list of government officials, animal rights groups, etc. that you think may help you and contact them for help.
Get the word out — Post flyers on telephone poles, put letters in mailboxes, put notes on car windshields, call and e-mail everyone you know, post a message on your Facebook page, put a note on forums (kijiji, etc.), create a website (as already mentioned), place newspaper and radio ads, etc. Do everything you can think of to make people aware of the issue.
Arrange a goose patrol — Make a schedule and get volunteers to patrol geese filled areas. If the geese have NOT nested, the volunteers should CAREFULLY try to scare the birds away. If the birds find a new place to nest, your problem may be solved! Once the geese have nested, the best you can do is to keep the young & their parents in a nearby waterway & hope they will float downstream and come out of the water in a safer place... (Geese will have lost their flight feather and cannot fly at the end of the nesting season and once they have young they will not fly away and leave their babies anyway…) Be very careful around geese with young; always keep your distance. Noise makers, such as pots & a wooden spoon, will allow you to chase the birds away and still keep a safe distance. Remember, you do NOT want to cause undue harm to the geese, so don’t overdo it! In some jurisdictions you may need a special permit to “scare” waterfowl; make sure you check into this before you do anything. If the geese make it through the molting stage (when they lose their flight feathers) they are probably safe (most cull are done when they are flightless) but it is still a good time for you to encourage them to find a new home…
Arrange a Goose Clean-up — A voluntary clean-up of goose droppings is a great way to show the location your commitment to saving the geese. It is an act of good faith that may help your cause. Even if the location will not respond to you, we suggest you arrange a clean-up in hopes that this act will open a dialogue with the location.
If the location will NOT listen, you may want to organize a protest — This should only be done if you cannot get the location to respond at all. The time and date should be kept PRIVATE until the protest occurs. Use your e-mail list to inform your volunteers. If you alert the media, ask them to keep the date & time private until the event happens or at least until the last minute. If the location knows there is going to be a protest, they may move up they plans for the cull & do it BEFORE you can protest and attract attention to the issue! Also make sure that you are respectful and non-violent at all times during a protest. The way you represent yourselves publicly is very important to your success!
If the location will NOT listen, you may want to do goose watch patrols — You will want to keep a close eye on the geese and watch for signs of “cull” activities. The people involved in the cull will require some time to set up and get organized. If you know where the geese are and watch them carefully, they cannot “surprise” you and kill the birds. Make a schedule and have volunteers monitor the birds day & night. You will also need to decide, as a group, what actions you will take if you discover the cull is about to happen. No matter what you decide, do NOT get violent! We suggest you make a “quick action” list of volunteers that can be contacted and mobilized quickly.
Learn your Acts & Regulations — Research the laws related to geese (we have listed some on our site) and learn as much as possible. You may be able to find information in the laws that will help you save the geese!
Learn everything you can about geese — Take the time and become an expert on geese. Learn what they eat, what environments the prefer, what frightens them, etc. Also learn about geese management options (we have provided links). If you can speak like an expert, people will listen.
Contact garden centers — Contact garden centers in the area and try to find one that will help. We suggest you make arrangements with the center to display a sign about the geese, to provide a list of plants that customers can buy for the “geese campaign” and to hold the plants for you until they are needed. Many garden centers will gladly help as it means increased sales for them. If the location will not respond to you, you may want to run a short campaign and present the plants to them with a note from your group. It is another act of good faith on your part that may open the lines of communication with the location. Even if you don’t actually run the campaign, you should still make arrangements in case you might need it at some point. ALWAYS make plans BEFORE they are required!
Select a LOCAL to be your spokesperson — Many small towns/villages have an “us vs. them” attitude and resent “outside” interference. Make sure the primary spokesperson is someone from the location involved in the cull. This can prevent the location from using excuses such as “the only opposition is from outsiders”.
Fundraise — Even if the location will not respond, raise money for the cause. If they will not accept your proposal and offers for help, you can donate the money to an animal rights organization! Make sure this is noted on your fundraising information. Use your imagination to raise money! One suggestion is a dog-walk event during the start of the nesting season. Having a large number of dogs around may discourage the geese from nesting in that location! Make sure all dogs are leashed! Do not do this once they have laid eggs or have babies—it could lead to injuries!
Make a petition & get signatures — Get signatures from as many people as possible. There are online sites that can help. Local flea markets and some malls will also allow you to set up displays.
Contact the government department responsible for permitting the cull — It is VERY important that those responsible for issuing permits KNOW YOU EXIST. If they are aware of the volunteers and your plans, THEY MAY CANCEL THE PERMIT! In some locations they have the ability to cancel the permit if they see that the problem “no longer exists” or will be remedied without the cull. Make sure you send them a copy of the proposal & that they receive frequent “contact”.
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