News Index > Oct '06- current > November 2006
Geese and Humans: Can't we all just get along?

The Journal News (Lower Hudson Valley) November 17, 2006

Canada geese.

They've been called the scourge of the suburbs - not to mention a bunch of other names that can't be printed here.

Maybe the birds represent to us what pigeons represent to our urban neighbors: noisy poop machines that don't seem to bring much to the table.

The long-necked birds have certainly created their share of controversy in the Lower Hudson Valley for more than a decade.

"Our community almost came to blows," Holly Hazard of Lake Barcroft, Va., told a group of about 100 people yesterday at the beginning of a two-day meeting in Tarrytown on geese. "We all felt that if we could go to the moon, we should be able to solve the geese problem."

Hazard is vice president of GeesePeace, a non-profit organization hosting the meeting to launch a regional effort aimed at getting communities within 60 miles of New York City to work together to find humane solutions.

GeesePeace grew out of that Virginia community, shepherded by Hazard and her neighbor David Feld.

Feld said yesterday that the symposium was aimed at helping municipal officials see the bigger picture.

"The challenge is for local leaders to know that with a concerted and coordinated effort, these problems can be solved," Feld said. "We want to get the geese out of the areas where they are causing problems and into areas that aren't bothered by them. Not every place that they like is a ballfield."

Not feeding the birds is one of few areas of agreement between animal activist organizations such as Friends of Animals and GeesePeace.

Members of Friends of Animals, based in Darien, Conn., were handing out information to participants yesterday as they arrived at the seminar yesterday at the Marriot Hotel on Route 119.

Noah Lewis, an animal rights activists, said afterward that the group's main concern is that the geese are respected and allowed to live naturally as a part of a "thriving biocommunity."

"We think most people overreact to the presence of geese," Lewis said. "For a few months of the year, they are molting and congregate. That's when most of the complaints come."

Lewis said growing longer vegetation such as cattail around water sources and landscaping in a coordinated way will reduce the impact on communities.

Geese need to see water from the grassy area where they snack, in case they want to flee a predator. Blocking their view means they'll find another spot, Lewis said.

"There's no safety or health threat to humans," Lewis said. "It's really an aesthetic issue."

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