EDGEWATER, N.J. -- Edgewater officials said Monday night that they are continuing with a plan to gas Canada geese to control their population despite offers from animals rights activists to buy out the contract.
“The health and welfare of their children was at risk. That is why this program was implemented,” Mayor Michael McPartland said. "We’re going to go with this program this year."
“I recommend we continue the course,” Councilman Michael Henwood added.
Nearly two dozen opponents spoke during Monday night's Mayor and Council meeting.
Offers to buy out the borough's contract with the federal government came from the Animal Protection League of New Jersey and Virginia Heagney of Cliffside Park, who owns an Edgewater business.
"It's an offer of help. It’s pragmatic. We want the geese to move on on their own," said APL Director Angi Metler.
"I'm ready to cut a check right now," Heagley said.
Metler has proposed solutions such as habitat modification, instituting and enforcing public feeding bans and employing mechanical scare devices, flags and noise.
"In all honesty, we’ve tried those options," McPartland replied. "What has worked…was this program."
Edgewater is in the fourth year of a deal with the USDA's Wildlife Services, which coats goose eggs so they don't hatch, removes nests and rounds up and euthanizes the birds.
"The goal is to reduce conflicts with geese in parks and the riverwalk [and] reduce threats to aviation at surrounding airports," Aaron Guikema, the state director of USDA's Wildlife Services said. "We addle eggs by piercing them and putting them back in the nest. "It keeps them from hatching. It keeps them from re-nesting."
Guikema provided statistics as well.
In 2013, Wildlife Services captured 91 geese in Edgewater. That number dropped to 17 last year.
"In my opinion it seems like we’re being successful removing the geese," Guikema said.
A petition drive demanding that borough officials break the contract and instead "employ effective nonlethal, humane methods" to treat Edgewater's growing geese problem is still in effect.
Another protest is being planned for Saturday across the borough, activist Doreen Frega said. Volunteers will be cleaning geese droppings as well.
"We're not going away," Frega added.