Sep 22, 2010 Ned Campbell Uncategorized
The goose droppings have been piling up at Gilly Lake for a long time. After sorting through several options throughout the year, Camillus Parks and Recreation Director Eric Bacon decided on one that may not sound pretty, but could work at a reasonable price.
Bacon received a permit Monday from the U.S. Bureau of Fish and Wildlife to kill no more than two geese a day, and no more than 20 geese total. He met with the Camillus Town Board that same day and they decided to go ahead with the plan.
“This is what we need to do in order to accomplish solving our problem, which was people not being able to enjoy the park because of goose droppings and the potential problem of having too many goose droppings in the water and potentially having to close our beach,” Bacon said.
He hopes that by shooting the geese, the others will get the idea that the park is not a safe place to inhabit. The first geese will be killed either before the end of the week or early next week.
“If it works by shooting two we wouldn’t do it anymore,” Bacon said. “If we did it the first day and they were still hanging around, we would probably do it another day.”
A member of the parks department trained in hunting will do the shooting with a shotgun between the hours of 7 and 9 a.m. when the park is closed, “but probably closer to 7,” Bacon said. Bacon consulted with Camillus Chief of Police Tom Winn about the issue of shooting within hearing range of a few residents, and Winn suggested he inform residents of the authorized procedure through the 911 service.
“We had talked about putting together a flier for neighbors,” Bacon said. “Of course with all the media outlets reporting on this, I don’t know if we still need to do this or not.”
Before applying for the federal permit, Bacon consulted with an expert at Cornell University and a representative from the U.S. Department of Agriculture. He also talked to Tom Bell, a wildlife biologist with the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation, Region 7.
Bell offered Bacon a few suggestions, including applying for a federal grant that would allow the town to destroy the geese’s eggs.
“The problem with that is you still have the same amount of geese as last year, you just don’t have any more,” Bell said.
Another suggestion was to allow hunting in the area during hunting season.
“Being a park, with patrons, [Bacon] chose not to go in that direction,” Bell said.
One proven method of countering the goose population includes altering the habitat; for example, letting the grass grow taller.
“You let the grass grow, it becomes less attractive to the geese,” Bell said. “The problem is it also becomes less attractive to people.”
Bell supports the town of Camillus’ decision to try and scare the geese away through controlled killing. He thinks it could really work, too.
“This time of year it could be potentially very effective,” he said. He added that during the summertime, the geese are all “flightless at the same time” because they are molting their feathers. But now, they’d be perfectly capable of flying away upon hearing gunfire.
Bacon tried additional methods of scaring the geese away without success, including placing wooden coyotes around the park.
“We had geese sitting on them,” he said. “It was almost comical.”
Other options were ruled out due to their potentially high cost.
“Do we want to bring in a Border Colley and a dog owner and have him cost us ‘x’ amount of dollars so that it might work?” Bacon said.
Bacon said he is an animal lover and resorting to killing geese is not desired, but the problem of heightened goose droppings at the park needs to be solved.
“Gilly Lake has kind of developed a reputation over the years that it’s the ‘goose poop’ lake,” he said. “No one wants to go there because of the mess that the geese leave. That’s why we’ve progressed to this point, because we have a beautiful park out there and I don’t want it to not be used because people are afraid of stepping in goose poop.”