When one considers the growing feral geese and/or rabbit population in Great Brak River, one generally falls into one of three camps. Those who are for, those who are concerned about their impact on the environment and those who genuinely couldn’t be bothered.

Whether strongly for, against or inert on this subject a good place to start dialogue is to begin by respecting each other’s opinion. Perhaps, by being compassionate amongst one another we can then find productive ways to manage not only the important conversations about potential impact and appropriate animal husbandry but the practical implementations needed to manage the environment compassionately.

Issues involving animal welfare, human/animal conflict and balance of ecology are deeply complex and there are times when social media, and media in general, by their very nature of locking onto emotive subjects makes the implementation of important environmental legislation by community and authorities increasingly difficult. However, just because a topic is uncomfortable or gains media attention it should not stop the relevant authority from acting if and where needed. People’s emotions are at times allowed to run away and drive unreasonable narratives and by society and authority allowing this to happen, it is not only irresponsible but makes the conservation effort extremely perplexing.

Lately, instead of working as a community to achieve a common environmental interest for the betterment of an area, we elect to concentrate on bickering online, voicing emotive or personal beliefs that are not founded in science. Therefore we delay necessary action, ignoring and compounding the problem. When authorities are unwilling to make firm decisions they are essentially creating a void which is filled by a community turning against each other. One side feels the need to get more vocal because they feel they and the environment are being ignored, and the opposing side rises to this in defence of its own personal opinion or preferences. Tensions escalate because both parties are ultimately preoccupied with defending what they perceive to love or hold important. Blinded by love and personal preference, neither side seems willing or able to budge, let alone listen to one another.

Of all the subjects and matters in the world, the environment is the one thing that does not take into account human emotion, personal belief, religious affiliation, race, social standing or political allegiance in order for it to achieve natural balance. In fact, if unmolested by human prejudice it thrives. Yet it seems at every turn we try to push these narratives in order to create a fight out of personal standings instead of removing ourselves from the debate to ask what is best for the environment, in this case Great Brak River. While we fight one another, everyone including the environment loses.

Shying away from responsibility, as well as mutual respect for opinion, manifests in reality not only as intertwined environmental impact and biodiversity issues but perhaps as a reflection on social behaviour and society itself.