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Mamaroneck residents urge nonlethal alternatives to geese problem

Mar 12, 2013

Written by
Swapna Venugopal Ramaswamy

MAMARONECK --Calling the village's plan to slaughter geese inhumane, about 50 animal defenders and residents urged lawmakers to consider alternatives during Monday night's village board meeting.

The hearing was limited to 25 minutes, and only about 20 of the 50 people assembled were able to speak. In a highly unpopular move, Mayor Norman Rosenblum limited each speaker to one minute each, eliciting complaints from those gathered. The board said it would not respond to any of the comments.
To tackle the decades-long issue of goose droppings in the parks, the village plans to work with the U.S. Department of Agriculture to kill the birds and donate their meat to local food banks.

Last year, the village purchased a $29,000 Rake-O-Vac to clean up the goose droppings.

Edita Birnkrant, the New Yorkdirector of Friends of Animals, a nonprofit, international animal advocacy organization, called the village's plan "misguided."

She asked why the village wouldn't give the Rake-O-Vac a chance.

"Just clean it up," said Birnkrant, a supporter of habitat and landscape modifications to deter geese. "We need a different mindset." When she exceeded her one minute, the mayor began calling on a police officer to escort her from the podium.

According to the USDA plan, the geese would be captured during the summer during their molting period -- when they shed wing feathers and can't fly —and their nests will be treated with corn oil to prevent eggs from hatching.

Paula Young, a state wildlife rehabilitator, asked the board to use "humane deterrents"like a "grape Kool-Aid," which she said, contains methyl anthranilate.
"It does not harm them, but they find it repulsive," she said.

Animal advocate Kiley Blackman of Tuckahoe urged the board to consider other options.

"I am begging you, do anything but slaughter them," she said.

Lorraine Izzo of Bronxville said Mamaroneck was setting a bad example for children.

"We are teaching them that when something gets in our way, we need to exterminate them," she said.

Last week, the mayor said the village would hear presentations on other options from experts at its March 18 meeting.

Scarsdale recently dropped its plan to work with the USDA on a similar plan after a public outcry.

Edita Birnkrant

NY Director
Friends of Animals
1841 Broadway, Suite 350
New York, NY 10023

Phone: 212.247.8120
Fax: 212.582.4482

Web site: mamaroneck-goose-plan-brutal

Wildlife Advocates, Residents Call Mamaroneck Goose Plan "Brutal"

by Chaya Babu The Village of Mamaroneck has a contract with the USDA to eliminate geese from the community. Photo Credit: Mark Chapman

MAMARONECK, N.Y. -- Statewide animal rights' activists and residents turned up to the Village of Mamaroneck Board meeting Monday to oppose the Village's plan to deal with the community's geese population. The Village is moving ahead with the U.S. Department of Agriculture to slaughter the geese. Edita Birnkrant, NY Director at Friends of Animals, an animal rights advocacy organization, explained the process of how this typically happens and why it upsets those who care about wildlife.

"USDA agents come into the parks usually early in the morning when it's dark, and they separate the goslings that were born recently from parents, stuff the geese and babies into crates, stack them into trucks, and drive them to whatever location where they're going to be gassed or shot," Birnkrant said. "They say they're going to use the meat for a food bank, which is absurd. But that's the process, and it's very traumatic, stressful, frightening of course. It's a very cruel way to kill the geese."

Approximately 50 people showed up, not all of whom got the opportunity to speak. The hearing was limited to 25 minutes, and Mamaroneck Mayor Norm Rosenblum informed the crowed at the beginning of the meeting that each person would only be allowed one minute versus the standard two minutes at public hearings. "There's an estimated 250,000 geese in New York State, and the number should be around 80,000 - so that's about three times more than what it should be," Mayor Rosenblum said, citing numbers from a presentation. "This can be proven by the amount of goose waste that's at Harbor Island and Columbus Park. You cannot walk without stepping in it." The goose droppings issue is one that the community has been dealing with for decades.

"The USDA will determine how much of the flock that's at Harbor Island should be culled and taken away," Rosenblum said.

Birnkant said the alternatives to the eliminating the birds by killing them are obvious, one of them being the use of the Rake-O-Vac, a $29,000 piece of equipment that the Village bought last year to clean up the droppings.

"Hello the answer is staring you in the face: you've purchased this large commercial machine which cleans up the poop very effectively," she said. "They're not using it. They're not making any policy to clean up the goose poop. It's almost laughable - you're a waterfront village and water fowl are going to be attracted to the area. No matter how many you kill this summer, more will fly in."

Birnkant said that experts have made recommendations for how waterfront communities can modify the landscape and habitat to deter Canada geese from coming in. Such changes would be a big investment, but she said they are more sensible than putting money into a yearly roundup and slaughtering of animals that will continue to repopulate the area. "It's a waste of taxpayer dollars, aside from the inhumane aspect," she said. "And it's just not rational: unless you put a glass bubble over Mamaroneck, the species will come back. This is how nature works."

Mayor Rosenblum said that the Board heard the statements from the public and will review other options that are presented. "If someone thinks they have another alternative, we'll look at it," he said. "But there's nothing left to be discussed at this point, and the USDA contract does remain valid."

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