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North Hempstead Officials At Wit’s End With Geese, Decide To Euthanize Them

Officials Say They Have Tried Everything And Have No Choice
Geese (file / credit: clipart.com)

Geese (file / credit: clipart.com)

NORTH HEMPSTEAD, N.Y. (CBSNewYork) — Officials in a Long Island town said this week that they have to scare off invasive Canada geese, and now must resort to euthanasia.

As CBS 2’s Jennifer McLogan reported, the Town of North Hempstead has been in a quandary over what to do with the 600 or more geese taking over parks, fields, playgrounds and sidewalks.

The geese are popular with some residents Madison Barlow, 3, of Glen Head, would like to see the geese stay.

“I love to feed the geese,” she said.

Madison’s family was horrified to learn of the plan to euthanize the geese.

“Why get rid of an animal that’s nice to look at? That’s what nature’s all about,” said Madison’s father, Paul Barlow.

But town officials said they have very good reasons to get rid of the geese, particularly because they have been fouling waterways. Each bird produces a pound of feces a day.

“They love to poop everywhere,” one person said.

In addition, another person said, the geese are “very aggressive – they will go after you.”

The town said it has tried everything to scare the geese away. The measures officials said they have tried in vain so far include oiling eggs to prevent hatching, chasing geese with a dog, having workers in kayaks chase the geese, placing dog puppets on lawns, and instituting stiff fines to discourage feeding.

“From the park’s standpoint, our basic concern is health and safety,” said Kevin Kelly, deputy commissioner at North Hempstead Parks and Recreation.

But Kelly did not want to talk about the town board’s unanimous vote to call in the U.S. Department of Agriculture, seeking euthanasia as a “last resort.”

The USDA said if approved, it will arrive in June during molting season.

“I feel bad that they have to try to kill the geese, but they’ve tried everything else,” said Elaine Bernstein.

Bernstein and her family said the geese have made it so they can no longer enjoy their Manhasset Hills park. She said the geese carry germs and bacteria, and “you can’t walk anywhere.”

But some still said the measure of last resort simply goes too far.

“This is cruel, and if you are just going to euthanize them and not have a plan in place, they are going to come back,” said Gary Rogers. “So, what? Are you going to kill more next year?”

Other municipalities have likewise said the only course of action left is to do away with the geese.

Over protests from animal activists, the Westchester County town of Mamaroneck decided to round up and kill geese so they can be turned into food for the homeless. A similar plan has been instituted in Scarsdale.

And last summer, federal officials rounded up about 700 geese from the Jamaica Bay Wildlife Refuge and euthanized them, in the hopes of preventing airstrikes of passenger planes flying out of both John F. Kennedy International and LaGuardia airports.

Geese were also killed for aviation safety reasons in 2011 and donated as meat to a Pennsylvania food bank – prompting protests from the group People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals.

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