It was a time of mourning for a few dozen people who gathered at Bend's Drake Park Thursday evening for a memorial to honor 109 Canada geese that were euthanized last week.
Those in attendance expressed their feelings, observed a moment of silence for their surviving companions and families, and discussed ideas of how to prevent this from happening again.
Organizers arranged the memorial event with the intention of "bonding together to promote proven methods of non-lethal methods of goose control."
"Many of us were saddened and perplexed by this (action)," said organizer Foster Fell.
The Bend Metro Park and Rec District approved the euthanization of 109 geese by CO2 gas as a last-ditch effort to control the geese population in town. The meat has since been processed and will be distributed to local food banks.
The issue of how to control the geese population in Bend has been controversial for many years. The park district said it has tried at least 25 methods of hazing to get the geese to migrate, as well as "good round-ups" and relocation. Other steps included harassing the geese with dogs, and oiling the goose eggs to prevent their birth.
Apparently, none of them effective enough to curb the hundreds of geese who flock to the park, often fed by residents and visitors, despite the park district encouraging them not to do so. Their droppings have caused consternation, also raising health concerns.
But foes of the geese killings -- which has made news around the world, and drawn scorn from Canadians as unnecessary -- said a prettier, less messy park is no reason to kill the wildlife.
"I think how they dealt with the goose population is not based on sound science," said Marilyn Miller, event organizer and certified Naturalist. "This is not going to accomplish their objective."
"Our position is not that the parks should be 'geese-free'," said Ed Moore of Bend Park and Rec. "Our position has been all along that we're out to make the parks usable and have a carrying capacity of geese that is acceptable through (U.S. Fish and) Wildlife Services, and ODFW (the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife)."
Last year alone, Bend Park and Recreation spent $22,000 to clean goose waste in Bend parks.
"Bend Metro's program already had enormous success, to be a model for other communities," said Fell. "We feel they could have continued with some improvement and achieved a sustainable long-term plan while lowering costs, and control the goose population."
One organizer of the memorial said they'll be looking into the legality of euthanizing the geese, and might pursue a lawsuit, if they find the actions were illegal.