Human friends of Canada geese sue federal government for helping Denver turn the birds into food

A USDA biologist watches Canada geese float on Ferril Lake at City Park, July 1, 2019. (Kevin J. Beaty/Denverite)

A USDA biologist watches Canada geese float on Ferril Lake at City Park, July 1, 2019. (Kevin J. Beaty/Denverite)

staff photos

Friends of Animals, an international animal rights group with an office in Centennial, has filed a lawsuit against the federal government for letting the city take Canada geese from local parks and have them killed and processed for food.

Denver Parks and Recreation initiated the plan to kill more than 1,600 park geese, citing environmental concerns. But the feds did most of the dirty work.

The lawsuit claims that the United States Department of Agriculture and United States Fish and Wildlife Services (part of the Department of the Interior) did not have the right to round up the geese, some of which are being fed to clients of Metro Caring, and did not follow the appropriate process in doing so.

Friends of Animals claims federal agencies should have performed an environmental analysis under the National Environmental Policy Act before culling the geese, according to the complaint. The group also claims that the Migratory Bird Treaty Act protects the animals from being captured and repurposed for food.

Denver Parks and Recreation Deputy Manager Scott Gilmore would not comment on the lawsuit but told Denverite the city’s park geese are residents — not migratory — because of the unnatural habitat created by humans.

“People have actually caused this,” Gilmore said. “We’ve created this habitat, these environments that they love — no predators, grass and water. Then they aggravate it more by feeding them.”

The lawsuit also alleges that goose meat is questionable because of pesticides and should not have been given to locals to eat.

USFW did not immediately return a request for comment, but the agency told KDVR that the federal permit authorizes the donation of birds to charitable groups like Metro Caring, which accepted the meat and gave it to low-income Denverites.

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