Getting rid of the fowl problem around village lakes is turning out to be a wild goose chase for Brightwaters residents.
The village in the past couple of months has received about a dozen complaints about the Canada geese that nest around Lower and Upper Cascade Lakes, Lagoon Lake, Mirrror Lake and Nosrekca Lake and about the excessive amounts of geese droppings on residential streets, Mayor John Valdini said. The village has also received calls from residents who want to protect the geese in the community, he said.
“There’s very separate camps people are in,” Valdini said. “I’m trying to get the best of both sides by getting informed.”
Residents discussed methods to control the resident geese with representatives of the state Department of Environmental Conservation at an informal meeting by the lakes last week. The mayor, village clerk and SPCA officers were also in attendance.
Geese can create up to three pounds of fecal matter daily, which can lead to an increase in E. coli and nutrient levels in lakes, according to the DEC. Nutrient levels can cause algal blooms, and people who come in contact with contaminated water can get a rash or gastrointestinal problems.
State DEC officials said there are tactics to discourage geese from settling, but there is no fool-proof method.
Peter Resing, a Brightwaters resident, said that his boat and house get covered in droppings, and was worried about the diseases the droppings could transmit to his grandchildren, who play in areas with a lot of droppings, he said.
“You can’t step out without stepping on fecal matter,” Resing said. “It is a problem, and something needs to be done.”
Other residents, such as Jonathan Landon, 37, were opposed to taking action against the geese, saying they were a part of the Brightwaters habitat and needed to be treated humanely.
"We cannot really make any sort of decisions based on one aberrant year in which we've had many successful breeding pairs," Landon said.
Canada geese are legally protected at federal and state levels, according to the DEC, which can limit the methods used to control them.
“This is not a problem specific to the Village of Brightwaters,” said Kelly Hamilton, a DEC official. “What we generally suggest is tactics for homeowners to use to try to alleviate the problem on their own property.”
Hamilton said that homeowners could take measures to scare geese away, such as installing sprinklers, letting lawns grow higher to make feeding harder and putting up fences.
The village could take wide-scale action to control the geese, such as oiling unhatched eggs with corn oil during the nesting season to prevent them from hatching, Hamilton said. The village could also pass anti-feeding ordinances or hire specially trained dogs to scare the geese away, she said.
Hempstead Town and Babylon Village have implemented egg oiling programs. Hempstead Town also employs dogs at 20 parks.
“I don’t want to get rid of them 100 percent,” resident David Thompson, 53, said. “I love the idea of oiling the eggs. If we reduce the population without eliminating them, it seems very humane to me.”
Valdini said the village will consider the options and likely come to a decision in time for next spring's breeding season.
Recommendations for homeowners by DEC to discourage geese from coming onto lawns and settling in the area.
- Discontinuing feeding.
- Allowing grass and herbs to grow between 10-14 inches.
- Installing grid wires on lawns and small bodies of water.
- Using visual scaring devices such as flagging balloons.
- Using noisemakers or pyrotechnics if local ordinances allow them.
- Installing motion-sensor sprinklers that turn on to scare geese away.