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Geese Stirring Up Debate In Scarsdale

The talks over how to deal with the Canada geese in the village of Scarsdale has taken center stage in the news this week and sparked protests.

Although many consider them protected wildlife, others call them a feathered mess.

This week, the Canada geese here in Scarsdale are stirring up quite the controversy. Add to that some face time for these webbed natives on TV and print news, two differing view points, and now the battle over the Geese has begun.

This week, Newsday, Lohud, MyFoxNY, the Associated Press and NBC 4 reported on the bird dilemma. At issue, the measures the Village plans on using to keep the geese population under control.

Boiled down, the village wants to kill the geese and use the bird meat to feed the needy, via the Westchester Food Bank, according to Newsday.com. The problem is the geese are making a mess of the pond area and fecal matter is getting into the Bronx River waterway.

Scarsdale's Village Manager Alfred A. Gatta told LoHud.com that the village tried to use a border collie and noisemakers to get rid of the geese, but the attempts failed. 

The animal advocates want a more humane solution.

According to media reports, the village would use hired USDA agents over the summer to kill the geese that live near the pond by the Scarsdale Public Library.

Protesters are speaking out online through petitons. The petitionsite.com has 400 signatures against the village's measures to kill the geese.

The petition states:
"People should sign this because animal have rights, but can't speak for themselves, and people plan to kill geese as an answer to normal behavior. There are humane alternatives, which should be considered before just "doing away with the geese" as is their disturbing plan."

The Friends of Animal advocacy group is also speaking out against the plan.

“Canada geese, a bird native to North America, should live free of harassment and harm in Scarsdale, and throughout its range," Edita Birnkrant, NY Director of Friends of Animals, said in a statement.

Birnkrant said Gatta’s "complaints about goose droppings are illogical...as Gatta could easily implement a proven plan to remove fecal matter if it's accumulating in public areas. Human litter is picked up, the group says, and residents pick up after their dogs."

"What's needed is an attitude adjustment," Birnkrant said. "Not a bloody round up and shooting project."

The Friends of Animals calls goose roundups "monstrous" and describe the USDA's process of stuffing "the bound, panicked geese and babies into crates. Next, the geese are gassed or shot to death. Does Gatta imagine such immorality is preferable to cleaning the grass?"

The group is asking the village to seek alternative methods to deal with the issue.

What's your view of this feathered controversy? Share your thoughts here.

Logocentric January 18, 2013 at 07:32 PM
Leave the geese alone. Geez. We're always looking for ways to benefit ourselves, why not let the animals live in peace?!!! We can be so annoying sometimes with our rationalizations for why we just have to destroy nature. You don't need to kill geese to feed the needy. There is plenty of food to go around if you take some from the greedy.
Lisa Gentes-Hunt (Editor) January 18, 2013 at 07:38 PM
Thanks all for the comments! Keep them coming!
Misse Lanni January 18, 2013 at 08:14 PM
Murder, kill, murder, kill. This is what we are teaching our children. If you don't like something it is ok to kill it. Canada Geese are very loyal animals that mate for life and have very strong flock and family bonds. Wouldnt this be a better example to teach our children? We need to learn to co-exist and appreciate all that this world has to offer. As far as the poop comments, give me one example of an animal that poops just to irritate man kind? There is no golf course conspiracy created in goose nation.Guess what everything poops take that up with God. I poop too, does that mean you are going to kill me next?
ASteinberg January 18, 2013 at 10:38 PM
The citizens of Scarsdale should demand detailed information as to WHERE the geese are supposed to be slaughtered/processed. The problem is that FEDERAL (and likely state) LAWS prohibit the slaughter and processing of non-farm-raised waterfowl in licensed butcheries EVEN if they hold a "POULTRY LICENSE". Experience from several states shows that these laws have regularly been violated by state officials and USDA employees. They knew that the state would protect them by ignoring criminal complaints. By slaughtering and processing wild geese in a butchery, these people put health and life of thousands of consumers on the line. One state (Wisconsin) had even some death cases due to enteric contamination of meat and a state investigation regularly fails to find the origin of this problem. This process fits the classic definition of CORRUPTION.
ASteinberg January 18, 2013 at 10:44 PM
The "feed the hungry" ruse is the PR campaign that the USDA killing team uses to justify killing the geese. They kill geese for profit; this is how they make their money. The idea that we are "feeding the hungry" also makes about as much sense as going into the local zoo and killing the bears, lions and cougars and saying that it's okay because they will be fed to the hungry . If people are homeless and hungry, that is one issue (although lack of food is not part of the problem). We do not have to destroy our wildlife to feed the hungry. Defending our wildlife is one important value. Caring for our homeless is another important value -- but they are not related. Killing something that should not be killed and trying to use feeding the poor as an excuse makes about as much sense as a murderer who donates his victims' organs to a transplant bank being hailed as a hero.
ASteinberg January 18, 2013 at 10:52 PM
They are migratory waterfowl that are native to ALL of North America and not exclusive to Canada. Just as the American Bald Eagle is not exclusive to the United States. 7 billion people on this planet and you really want to talk about how overpopulated GEESE are? It is irrational to hate an animal. I do not despise geese, and there is nothing disgusting about them. They are extremely loyal mates, devoted parents and very intelligent. The fact that people have built over 60% of the wetlands that is their home, overhunted them to near extinction and then restored them, then ignored the growth in their resident population until they want to kill them says far more about us than it does about geese.
ASteinberg January 18, 2013 at 10:54 PM
The citizens of Scarsdale should demand detailed information as to WHERE the geese are supposed to be slaughtered/processed. The problem is that FEDERAL (and likely state) LAWS prohibit the slaughter and processing of non-farm-raised waterfowl in licensed butcheries EVEN if they hold a "POULTRY LICENSE". Experience from several states shows that these laws have regularly been violated by state officials and USDA employees. They knew that the state would protect them by ignoring criminal complaints. By slaughtering and processing wild geese in a butchery, these people put health and life of thousands of consumers on the line. One state (Wisconsin) had even some death cases due to enteric contamination of meat and a state investigation regularly fails to find the origin of this problem. This process fits the classic definition of CORRUPTION.
ASteinberg January 18, 2013 at 11:10 PM
There are many, many communities that have satisfactorily resolved their goose population problem without killing. In fact, most of these communities used to use the USDA to kill until they realized they were shelling out a small fortune to kill every year, and it did nothing to solve the problem; in some cases, it made it worse. If you are not addressing the reason the geese are attracted to this particular location, you will never solve your problem. A few years ago in Moorestown, NJ, the town killed 133 geese from a local park. Within a month, 90 new geese had come in to take their place. That is all any reasonable mind needs to hear to reject the killing option. The following year, the town tried a non-lethal humane combination of methods and they lowered their goose population to highly satisfactory, maintainable levels. They've never gone back to killing; they don't have to. If Scarsdale starts now and goes into spring with a combination of humane methodologies - landscape modification, egg addling and a few other ideas (and there are plenty of organizations and companies who are successful at this who can advise and help), they will effectively lower their goose population and will be able to maintain this for the long term. Once established, they can utilize volunteers to keep this going at low or no cost to the township.
ASteinberg January 18, 2013 at 11:10 PM
There are many, many communities that have satisfactorily resolved their goose population problem without killing. In fact, most of these communities used to use the USDA to kill until they realized they were shelling out a small fortune to kill every year, and it did nothing to solve the problem; in some cases, it made it worse. If you are not addressing the reason the geese are attracted to this particular location, you will never solve your problem. A few years ago in Moorestown, NJ, the town killed 133 geese from a local park. Within a month, 90 new geese had come in to take their place. That is all any reasonable mind needs to hear to reject the killing option. The following year, the town tried a non-lethal humane combination of methods and they lowered their goose population to highly satisfactory, maintainable levels. They've never gone back to killing; they don't have to. If Scarsdale starts now and goes into spring with a combination of humane methodologies - landscape modification, egg addling and a few other ideas (and there are plenty of organizations and companies who are successful at this who can advise and help), they will effectively lower their goose population and will be able to maintain this for the long term. Once established, they can utilize volunteers to keep this going at low or no cost to the township.
ASteinberg January 18, 2013 at 11:33 PM
The geese live near the pond at the library..... they're WATERFOWL. Of COURSE they live near a pond! The USDA actively solicits towns to kill geese - this is how they make their money. They were the focus of a 3-part series in the Sacramento Bee for their killing policies and how excessively they kill a variety of animals and misuse taxpayer funds to do so. Congress is considering investigating the USDA's Wildlife Services killing division because of this. Gassing the geese is particularly cruel, as geese are anatomically designed to be underwater dabblers and can hold their breath for longer periods of time. It can take up to 45 minutes for them to die, and essentially burns them up from the inside out, while they desperately try to escape from the gas chamber. You can hear them honking and banging against the sides. This is after the terror of capture and confinement, as geese are extremely "family conscious" animals and separating mates and parents and children is particularly traumatic for them. All of this for an animal that has done nothing to warrant such a grisly death - you wouldn't treat a mass murderer with such inhumanity.
Kim January 19, 2013 at 12:21 AM
I am opposed to killing the geese. I am a resident and do not want my tax money spent on killing. When you have a problem, you should always choose a non-violent solution if one presents itself. Why would Scarsdale, a supposedly progressive town, choose a crude, violent plan when alternatives are available? Don't be naive. The USDA makes a lot of money from this "business." Look it up. It would be easy to implement solutions to clean up goose poop using the Nature Scape, and town personnel. We clean up litter and those ubiquitous cigarette butts all over our beaches--so why not this? And why not just control the population through oiling the eggs and contraceptives (yes, they are available for geese). Or letting grass grow taller because geese don't like it, and hiring a border collie service that does the job right, not like the last one that soaked the town for $11,000 to bring a dog there ONCE a day (you need three times a day and it will not cost $11,000). C'mon people. You can't just kill everything in nature that inconveniences you. There is currently a petition going around the middle school that has over a hundred signatures on it...so even the kids are outraged. The community does NOT want this.
Kim January 19, 2013 at 12:26 AM
But you can clean up goose poop using machines and manpower. You can control population through egg-oiling and contraceptives. You can deter geese from certain places through border collies and altering the landscape. You don't have to like geese to be opposed to this killing. You just have to DISLIKE a culture where the go-to move when something causes a problem is to kill.
Kim January 19, 2013 at 12:30 AM
Actually, there is something inhumane about feeding the homeless meat that is contaminated with lead, pcb's, lawn pesticides, and heavy metals. This meat is not food-grade. Just because someone is poor does not mean they should eat food that could make them sick! I used to work in a soup kitchen as a volunteer. There were times where certain meals would disagree with the guests. I got to hear firsthand how horrific it is to have a food-borne illness and not have a bathroom. Or not have healthcare. Or not have a bed to rest in.... And there is something inhumane about using the homeless as a way to manipulate public sentiment around a controversial issue.
ASteinberg January 19, 2013 at 12:44 AM
Kim, it is very good to know that the majority of the town opposes this action. It certainly sounds like your Board of Trustees does not know very much about this issue or how to effectively go about resolving it by using non-lethal techniques. Frankly, it soundslike they did a rather half-assed approach and then jumped right to the USDA. Or perhaps they were actively recruited by the USDA - this is, after all, a big money-maker for them. You are correct, there IS bird birth control - it is called Ovo-Control and many resorts and communities successfully use it. What's funny is, it was co-develped by the USDA, and yet they prefer to push their killing plan instread of this. They probably make bigger bucks killing. If your community opposes this slaughter, you should all be able to get your Board of Trustees to change their plans. It sounds like many humane groups are actively working on this one.
david January 19, 2013 at 12:46 AM
Killing the geese will clear the area temporarily, but time and time again subsequent to goose roundups, geese repopulate vacant desirable habitat. a long term resolution is needed. this unfortunate plan can be avoided by making a commitment of Simple steps, such as cleaning up the grass, and making landscape modifications. The fear that geese defecation poses a threat to human health is not based on scientific evidence. Killing the geese is inhumane and counter to public opinion, it’s bad for the kids too, and not how the residents of Scarsdale want tax dollars spent.
Keith Lanni January 19, 2013 at 05:54 PM
Wow, New York and New Jersey killing/wanting to kill geese...shocking (note the sarcasm). As always, disgraceful. These magnificent, loyal, loving creatures deserve life. With all your problems in that area, this is what you focus on?? The donate meat angle is a farce, since the majority of these birds are contaminated by pesticides and other poisons humans have put into the earth. The goose meat is unedible. Your tax dollars used for lies and murder. Think about it New York.
Patty A January 19, 2013 at 10:13 PM
It seems from other reports, the geese are being targeted because of a "couple of complaints" about them. What about the people who ENJOY nature and wildlife and don't complain? Do their feelings NOT count? I don't like crowds. I therefore don't go to Times Square on New Year's. However, should I go to Times Square and then whine about the crowds and noise? Would politicians then cancel celebrations based solely on my complaint and possibly a few others? One thinks not. Well, geese should not be killed either because of the intolerance of the few. If you don't like something, then avoid it. Simple solution. You don't deprive others from enjoying what annoys you. Sick of the violence and paranoia and sick of selfish, cruel, and ignorant attitudes. If anything needs to "go," it is those.
Patty A January 19, 2013 at 10:19 PM
Should we assume from this article that the next time someone is scared of or for whatever twisted reason, doesn't like squirrels or other wildlife in a park or near a pond, the animals will be rounded up, killed and served on dinner plates? Should we turn our parks and ponds into slaughterhouses for the intolerant and paranoid? Truly unbelievable that there is seemingly no place on earth where an animal can be considered to be safe.
ASteinberg January 21, 2013 at 05:54 PM
It is not only the job of local government to protect the people of the community from dangers, but also to protect the community's animals from those who would do them harm. These geese should be protected against being killed by nature haters and self-entitled jerks who view anything that invconveniences them as something that should simply be killed. That's a very Nazi-like perspective.
Kim January 23, 2013 at 07:22 PM
I see nothing wrong with it. The geese get over populated just like deer and are messy. If they can be killed & used to feed people that is a great thing to do. A human life should come before an animal. I get sick of it being wrong to kill an animal for food. Read your bible once in awhile & it will tell you the same thing. As long as the animals are not suffering & people are benifiting from the meat more power to them !!!
ASteinberg January 23, 2013 at 10:53 PM
Perhaps you should take a closer look at the 7 billion people overpopulating the planet. Ever see how messy a park is after a rock concert? Or how messy a villege is after it's been bombed by terrorists? It's not geese who are causing war, driving drunk or engaging in deadly road rage, nor did they cause the Gulf oil spill, or dump floating garbage the size of the state or Maine into our oceans. PEOPLE did that. Apparently you are one of the gullible people fooled by the claim of feeding the geese to the poor. It might interest you to know that very few food pantries will accept geese because of the toxins in grass that they eat. No human will benefit by that, least of all the most health compromised poor. If you don't think that a goose taking 45 minutes to die while being suffocated and burned up while being gassed, and screaming and thrashing is not suffering, then you should make it your business to go to a goose roundup and gassing and observe what the process is like. You would have to be made of stone to think that those animals are not suffering. But if you are so concerned with the poor of Scarsdale, an oxymoron if ever there was one, then please feel free to kill and donate your own cat or dog to feed the poor. If you wouldn't do that, then don't volunteer the geese that many of us care about either.
ASteinberg January 23, 2013 at 10:56 PM
And also, perhaps YOU should read your Bible once in a while - particularly the part that states that God said "Thou Shalt Not KILL." In the Bible, hunters are always evil men (i.e., Esau) while shepherds who cared for their animals often became kings (i.e., David) as God saw that those who were kindly and good to their flocks of animals would be as good to flocks of people. For example, Moses was tested by God through his shepherding: While Moses was tending the sheep of Jethro in the wilderness, a lamb ran away from him. He ran after her until she reached Hasuah. Upon reaching Hasuah, she came upon a pool of water [whereupon] the lamb stopped to drink. When Moses reached her, he said, "I did not know that you were running because [you were] thirsty. You must be tired." He placed her on his shoulder and began to walk. God saw this and said, "You are compassionate in leading flocks belonging to mortals; I swear you will similarly shepherd my flock, Israel." (Exodus Rabbah 2:2) The greatest Jewish teacher, leader, and prophet was found worthy, not because of abilities as a speaker, statesman, politician, or warrior, but because of his compassion for animals. Just saying.
Laura January 24, 2013 at 11:23 AM
Our media covering these Geese kills *before* the USDA acts, vs. after, creates hope!
Laura January 24, 2013 at 11:24 AM
The circle of life isn't just a Disney song. Our ecosystem is based on interdependence of species. History reminds us that human manipulation of animal population has had rippling effects among other species - including humans.
Laura January 24, 2013 at 11:27 AM
If infection from poop is *truly* the worry, then we best test all the other poops in the same spaces (seagulls, pigeons, raccoons, foxes, opossum, cats, dogs...)
ASteinberg January 24, 2013 at 02:36 PM
There has never been any documented case of anyone ever getting sick from goose poop - this includes rescuers working in disaster areas with huge volumes of birds. animals dropping are largely biodegradable and suited to the environment. In fact, you won't find better grass fertilizer than goose droppings. if nature evolved animals to live in water, you better believe what they do in it is harmless. I would not be surprised if dredging the pond revelaed beer cans or other things that people threw in. You' re in more danger shakling hands with most people.
Laura January 25, 2013 at 01:40 AM
Thanks for your post and concern about suffering. Please know the baby geese are left to suffer, when the USDA removes (kills) the parent Geese. It is pretty heart breaking to watch. ...And the USDA can only do the killings when they can catch the Geese, and the USDA can only catch the Geese when the Geese are grounded with flightless goslings. The gosling's suffering occurs in June.
Laura January 25, 2013 at 01:43 AM
The goose dinners are not fit for human consumption - unless the mission is to also kill the 'overpopulation' of homeless people.
Laura January 25, 2013 at 01:47 AM
Good point, Dennis. Part of the reason for the Geese evolving into resident Geese, vs. those who migrate back to Canada - is the USDA removed (killed) parents and left goslings. The goslings did not know/learn to migrate.
ASteinberg January 25, 2013 at 03:25 PM
The next order fo business for the good people of Scarsdale is to call for the resignation of the ABYSMAL town leadership. These incompetent people did not intelligently look into the issue of successfully managing goose populations (and my understanding is, the group of geese at the pond is not a large flock by any means), they went right to kill, calling in the worst organization, the USDA - a group that 5 Congressmen are calling to be investigated for excessive killing of animals and misuse of taxpayer funds. They furthermore made this decision without telling anyone - the town found out reading it in the news. If these people don't even know how to manage geese, they have already proved that they are unfit to manage people.

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