LAKEWOOD, STAFFORD AND TUCKERTON, NEW JERSEY
400 Canada geese removed, killed by county, USDA
Had been polluting 3 county parksBy Kirk Moore • TOMS RIVER BUREAU • July 17, 2008
Ocean County and U.S. Department of Agriculture officials removed and destroyed more than 400 resident Canada geese from county parks in Lakewood, Stafford and Tuckerton in late June, after a decade of nonlethal control methods failed to stem the waterfowl population at what used to be popular swimming lake beaches.
The operation from June 23 to 25 rounded up geese at Ocean County Park in Lakewood, A. Paul King Park in Stafford and Tip Seaman Park in Tuckerton. The decision to capture the geese came after an effort in April to render more than 200 eggs in nests unviable, said Carol Bannerman, a spokeswoman for USDA Wildlife Services, which issued a federal permit and helped remove the geese at a cost of $22,000 to the county.
"It is unfortunate. It's not something we're happy to do. But the community there outlined a problem," Bannerman said.
The growth in New Jersey's resident Canada geese problem has made the once migratory birds a familiar year-round sight at corporate office parks and other landscapes where there's abundant fresh water and green grass. In Ocean County, environmental and health workers say goose droppings and resulting high bacteria counts in park lakes have been a factor in the virtual shutdown of several inland swimming areas since the 1990s.
"The biggest complaint we have in the Ocean County parks system is goose droppings," Freeholder John C. Bartlett Jr. said Wednesday. "We had to do something because patrons were being driven out of the park," he said, particularly in Lakewood, where the former Rockfeller family estate, now known as Ocean County Park, is the most used tract in the parks system.
Parks workers battled the geese with nonlethal means for about a decade, including $15,000 annual contracts with a geese control service that uses border collies to chase the birds away.
"When the dogs leave, the geese come back," Bartlett said.
At the recommendation of wildlife experts, other decoys were tried, like fake alligator heads in lakes, dog-shaped silhouettes and scarecrow balloons, he said.
Some methods worked for a time before the birds became accustomed to them. Chemical repellents worked for a time, as did $850 loudspeaker systems that blared goose distress cries, Bartlett said.
"We've bought thousands of acres for natural lands and geese are welcome there," Bartlett said. In the parks, cleanup efforts could not keep pace with the bird population and athletic fields were becoming too fouled to use, he said. Bannerman said 400 geese produce roughly 200 pounds of feces a day.
The birds were disposed of in a landfill after they were destroyed. Some states, including Pennsylvania and Wisconsin, have a policy that allows for slaughtering geese and supplying them to food banks and other nutrition programs, Bannerman said.
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