Things More Dangerous than Nuclear Power: Swans

Idaho Falls has a beautiful park called “The Greenbelt,” which is a winding walking path with trees and grass (a rare thing here) and follows the river downtown. It’s a great place to just sit, relax, or play Pokémon Go.

For the past few years, there has been an active program to keep the Canada Geese out of The Greenbelt. The Canada Goose is a mean bugger; even if you feed it, it’ll be a jerk to you — and it likes to poop everywhere. The Greenbelt was becoming a place you wouldn’t want to walk around in because it was getting hard to run away from some jerk goose whilst stepping around all of the poo.

I figured that given it’s reputation, the Canada Goose had to have caused at least one fatality, somewhere. A colleague told me of a story of someone having been killed by a flock of geese. An unverified story on the internet claimed a goose had caused a man to fall off of his roof. In spite of my best research efforts, and even going to the lengths of contacting the Ohio Geese Control (thanks for the help, Marci!), I could not find an instance of death by goose (excluding airplane incidents) in spite of the rumors I had been told.

However, there is another species of water foul (see what I did there?) that has caused at least one human’s demise: the swan.

Elegant, graceful, and the color of purity; the swan, which spends most of its time sticking its beak into the goop at the bottom of ponds, has caused at least one fatality to date. A guy who worked for a company that used swans and dogs to shoo geese off of condo properties had drowned when attacked by one of his birds. The swan was believed to be nesting, and when the employee got too close in his kayak, it attacked.

In spite of this tragedy, the odds of being attacked by a swan are pretty slim. It is even more unlikely to be attacked by an aggressive nuclear power plant, even while breeding. To date, zero members of the public have been killed by commercial nuclear power in the United States since its inception in 1957.

Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of Idaho National Laboratory or of any agency of the U.S. government.

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