Letter to the Editor: Consider Humane, Effective Solutions to Human/Goose Conflict

A former Greenhaven resident proposes humane alternatives to killing geese in Mamaroneck.


Editor's Note: The letter below does not necessarily represent the views of Patch media.

Mamaroneck has recently signed a contract with the USDA to kill Canada Geese. Killing geese as a solution to the human/goose conflict is not an effective solution, and never has been. More geese simply move in to fill the void. For a waterfront community to resort to killing waterfowl is illogical, cruel, and wasteful. Blaming geese for water pollution when Mamaroneck has a long history of sewage-related problems is a way of avoiding responsibility for addressing the real issues.

The only effective, long-term way to handle human/goose conflicts is through a comprehensive program. This must include education to deter feeding and foster tolerance for wildlife; goose feces removal; habitat modification; and humane population management through egg oiling or birth control. A waterfront community simply has no choice but to find a way to co-exist with waterfowl.

Concerns about goose feces should be addressed by cleaning up the feces. The town has recently purchased a machine for this purpose. Concerns about population can be addressed through education and, if necessary, birth control. To commit taxpayer money toward killing geese is both a waste of money and a waste of precious life.

Many people take great joy in watching these intelligent, graceful geese who mate for life and care tenderly for their offspring. We are both saddened and outraged that Mamaroneck is committed to slaughtering them when they are totally defenseless and unable to fly during molting. It is all the more tragic that killing them will solve none of the problems that it purports to. Mamaroneck can and should do better.

Kimberly Gold, Former Greenhaven resident

Amy Meyer Hodman February 28, 2013 at 02:50 PM
I could not agree more. We live in Mamaroneck and my 12 year old son is furious that part of the reason this is being done is supposedly for "the kids" like himself. He is going to start a petition and circulate it at his school.
Kim February 28, 2013 at 04:21 PM
I live in Scarsdale, and they recently reversed their decision to kill the geese. The kids made a powerful statement--my daughter in middle school got 240 signatures, and the high school got 500 signatures. Go for it!
steve kanney March 01, 2013 at 01:57 AM
hmmm...kill geese for no reason for $10k/year or plant some trees and make a real dent in the problem...decisions, decisions, decisions......
Kim March 01, 2013 at 01:19 PM
Steve kanney: I was wondering about the idea to plant more trees. I notice that at Manor Park in Larchmont there are no geese. That area is waterfront, but filled with lots of trees and rocky areas. Just one idea of many, some feasible, some not. What is so disturbing is the lack of effort and creativity in problem-solving. I frequently hear officials say they "tried everything" and they "have to" kill, when in fact they have tried very little. If they have truly tried everything, why are these contracts sprung on the public after the fact? Why haven't they met with wildlife advocacy groups years before to collaborate? These groups, being nonprofit, would collaborate free of charge with accurate information and intelligent, proactive solutions. The USDA is selling these contracts to communities for one reason: to make money. And Wildlife Services is making money hand over fist---do some research. Our officials should be as suspicious of what the USDA Wildlife Services promises as they would be if a door-to-door salesman showed up selling a product for 10 grand. This entity is no friend to wildlife, or to taxpayers.
Patty A March 01, 2013 at 07:00 PM
Central Park in NYC has successfully and humanely contained its goose population for years, mostly through habitat modification (as described) and some egg addling. On occasion, CP has also used Border Collie harassment in the past -- though not over the past year and a half due to low resident goose population. Had Mamaroneck been doing these things all along, they would not now have a so-called "overpopulation" of resident Canada geese. Claims that they "tried" non-lethal methods don't fly with the actual evidence.
Patty A March 01, 2013 at 07:10 PM
Mamaroneck should be aware of what it is truly signing itself up for in its kill contract with USDA "Wildlife Services." Tom Knudson of the Sacramento Bee has written a series of investigative articles on the real horrors of WS. This is just one of them (the most recent): http://www.sacbee.com/2012/11/02/4956169/us-wildlife-workers-online-photos.html#storylink=misearch These thugs leave no targeted (or untargeted) behind. Make no mistake. When USDA comes to kill every goose at Mamaroneck, the ducks, coots, cormorants and every other bird of the water will go to. They don't hang around when there is "blood in the water," The geese are their sentries and represent early warning systems of danger. What do parents tell their children when every bird on the water is gone?
Misse Lanni March 01, 2013 at 07:29 PM
Thank you Kimberly for writing such a nice letter. Canada Geese are demonized by so many communities. People make much bigger messes then the animals. People have become so violent and seem to "solve" so many problems by killing. We should teach younger generations to find peaceful solutions that allow all species to live together. My family finds so much joy watching these beautiful birds. Ponds and waterfronts seem so quiet and sad without animals.
LifeLongResident March 01, 2013 at 08:05 PM
Patty A Thank you for the article, I read it. I don't think it bears much relevance to this discussion, seems like guilt by association. I haven't made up my mind on this but I think it is a good discussion to have and could lead to a good outcome.
Patty A March 01, 2013 at 08:34 PM
LifeLongResident: Though Tom Knudson's investigative series on USDA WS is not specific to Canada geese, it represents a small glimpse into what this rogue agency actually is. Please read this Editorial from the Bee as well as other articles by Knudson. This is a top notch journalist whose articles are inspiring calls for Congressional oversight of WS: http://www.sacbee.com/2012/05/27/4517631/put-pressure-on-wildlife-services.html#storylink=scinlineshare WS has literally been getting away with ruthless slaughter of wildlife (and even pets) for decades. One would think that an upscale communitiy like Mamaroneck would not be putting out the welcome mat for such thugs.
Patty A March 01, 2013 at 08:47 PM
This is a link to all of Knudson's investigative articles on WS. http://www.sacbee.com/wildlife/ The photos and texts are not pleasant, but necessary to know since it is this agency that has been invited into Mamaroneck to round up and slaughter the community geese.
LifeLongResident March 01, 2013 at 09:01 PM
Patty A, Thanks you for the article, I read it. They are very helpful. I too have doubts about this quasi federal/private contract system for rounding up, exterminating geese and feeding them to poor people. But this is a different program than what the journalist is talking about out west, which was a predator control program. I would be interested in knowing more about the goose program though if you have it. How many have they done? Where? Are they effective for the long term or are they just yearly harvests? I find it peculiar that this never came up before and the contracts are now signed. I have never heard about it before and if people are this crazed about it now surely there would have been something in the news about when they agreed to it. Remember about the dogs, people get crazy about animals. I remember years ago when they got the dog that was a big discussion.
Patty A March 02, 2013 at 06:48 PM
Lifelong Resident: As you know, the Sacramento Bee is from California and thus the focus of Knudson's articles has been USDA WS West Coast predator control programs. (Though he has also mentioned East Coast goose roundups). Unfortunately, no one has done an investigative series on East Coast goose roundups. However, there are several Facebook pages devoted to these. (Goosewatch NYC, Call of the Canada Geese and several others. These sites contain hundreds of articles and other vital information.) A few quick facts: USDA WS makes money from goose roundups. NYC paid more than $100,000 in 2010 for USDA to round up more than 1200 geese, for example. As Kim points out correctly, there is not great profit in simply oiling eggs or other non-lethal means of goose control. USDA does not provide harassment services, such as Border Collies. There are private companies that provide that. It is to USDA financial advantage to promote goose roundups and killing. They are experts at it and have all the necessary equipment. (Kayaks, nets, corrals, turkey crates, trucks, etc, etc.) Additionally, since the geese appear to be (like coyotes) adaptable to predation by breeding more, one could say goose roundups are the gift that keeps on giving to WS. One thing for sure: "Cruelty ends where profit begins." As long as there is financial incentive for goose roundups, then WS will continue to push for and carry them out. -- The geese that lay the golden eggs.
Patty A March 02, 2013 at 06:53 PM
This link is to some photos from a USDA WS roundup of geese from Randals Island in 2009: http://www.facebook.com/media/set/?set=oa.219736024712949


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