No one at the memorial service knew the deceased personally.

Some wore black, despite the summer heat, others “Save the Geese” T-shirts.

A prayer and request for forgiveness opened the ceremony.

“We apologize to our creator for taking the lives of these precious beings,” said Kathie Free of Madison, a retired social worker.

Wednesday’s memorial service on the steps of the City-County Building, attended by 12 people, bemoaned the loss of the geese rounded up in city parks last month and killed as part of a city attempt to reduce geese feces at picnic sites and on beaches.

At one of those parks Wednesday afternoon, several swimmers and sunbathers said they liked the result of the city’s action, if not the method.

“It’s nice because the kids are not all grossed out and yelling about poop,” said Linda Heiman, director of a summer camp run by the Wisconsin Youth Company. She brought 45 children to Vilas Park Wednesday and said it was the first time the group was able to find a grassy area clean enough for all of them to sit down on together.

But she grimaced when told the geese had been killed. “Well, that doesn’t make me happy,” she said.

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service granted permission last month for the city to kill up to 350 Canada geese at four city parks — Vilas, Olin-Turville, Brittingham and Goodman — and along the Wingra Creek shoreline.

The city contracted with the U.S. Department of Agriculture Wildlife Services to capture and kill the geese. About 210 geese were removed, said Laura Whitmore, a parks spokeswoman. The work is done for the summer, she said.

A spokeswoman for the U.S. Department of Agriculture told the State Journal last month the adult geese would be made into goose burgers for donation to area food pantries. She couldn’t be reached Wednesday.

Whitmore said she did not know the geese’s final destination.

Mourners Wednesday said they’re angry the city didn’t pursue non-lethal methods, such as transporting the geese to conservation land. They created a temporary memorial on the government building’s steps with $100 worth of fresh-cut flowers, and Madison veterinarian Jens Luebow played a CD of himself performing a piano solo of “The Plight of the Canada Geese,” which he composed.

Back at Vilas Park, Patrick Stoltman, 23, of Madison, sunbathing with a friend, said he can understand why some people would be upset with the geese being killed.

“But, personally, I don’t think it’s that horrible,” he said. “They didn’t waste the meat, and I’m confident the species is not going extinct. If it were pandas, then I’d have a problem.”

Capital W: Plug in to Wisconsin politics

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