Some Brightwaters residents, fed up with finding geese droppings on their property, set up a string fence to keep the birds away, but that violates village code, said Village Mayor John Valdini. NewsdayTV's Ken Buffa reports. Credit: Newsday/James Carbone; Photo Credit: Tom Lambui

Brightwaters resident Joe Pers wanted to keep geese poop off his welcome mat. So he set up a string fence around his front yard to keep them away — and now he has run afoul of village code.

Flocks of Canada geese around the lakes in Brightwaters are considered a nuisance by many residents in the area, nearly a dozen of whom, including Pers, 71, were recently issued warnings by the village for lining their yards with string fences that fall partially on municipal property. 

“Anything that the residents might want to come up with that would help protect their properties, I’m fine with, but I have to maintain the character of the village, and the look of the properties is something that's important to people who live there,” Brightwaters Village Mayor John Valdini said.

Prompted by complaints from neighbors, the village ordered nine residents to move string fences out of the village right of way by Jan. 1. The string could pose a tripping hazard or damage snow clearing equipment, a letter sent to the residents says.

Valdini said Thursday tickets have been issued to three residents, including Pers, who has not taken down the string fence. Pers and the other residents were ordered to appear in village court on Feb. 8.

There has been an “explosion in resident goose numbers” throughout New York, according to the state Department of Environmental Conservation. All Canada geese are protected by federal and state laws and regulations. The DEC estimated in 2019 there were around 364,000 geese in the state, far outstripping “a more acceptable number” around 85,000.

To keep the geese population under control, the Village of Brightwaters has tried using fake swans and hired geese control companies to oil eggs in the spring, which keeps them from hatching, and use border collies to chase geese from local parks in the summer. 

"Growing up, we didn't have the problem with the geese the way we do now," said Pers, who has lived in the area his entire life.

Bill Alemaghides Jr., 50, owner of Long Island Geese Control, said geese prefer open grassy areas near water and said using border collies to chase, or “herd,” flocks of geese is the most effective method to control the birds.

The company has not been hired to tackle the population near the lakes, where residents have put up string fences, although they do patrol two of the village's parks with border collies in the summer. 

Fake swans or silhouettes of dogs don’t usually work for very long and string fences are not effective either, according to Alemaghides, who noted that the string could pose a danger to geese.

The geese population has "definitely" been growing year by year, Alemaghides said, which has made it harder to keep customers happy.

The DEC website says the best results for controlling geese are usually achieved through a combination of methods, such as not feeding the geese and allowing hunting.

Birds can get around most fencing but fences may prevent "direct attacks," according to the DEC. To be most effective, goose control fences should be at least 30 inches tall and solidly constructed.

Pers highlighted his concern about nitrogen loading from geese poop in local water bodies and potential health risks, such as E. coli and other bacteria. 

“I understand where [the mayor] is coming from. Rules are rules,” said Pers, who says his fence has been effective. “But if people can protect their front yard with rocks and pipes and buoys ... at the end of their driveway … what's my little string line doing?”

Brightwaters resident Joe Pers wanted to keep geese poop off his welcome mat. So he set up a string fence around his front yard to keep them away — and now he has run afoul of village code.

Flocks of Canada geese around the lakes in Brightwaters are considered a nuisance by many residents in the area, nearly a dozen of whom, including Pers, 71, were recently issued warnings by the village for lining their yards with string fences that fall partially on municipal property. 

“Anything that the residents might want to come up with that would help protect their properties, I’m fine with, but I have to maintain the character of the village, and the look of the properties is something that's important to people who live there,” Brightwaters Village Mayor John Valdini said.

Prompted by complaints from neighbors, the village ordered nine residents to move string fences out of the village right of way by Jan. 1. The string could pose a tripping hazard or damage snow clearing equipment, a letter sent to the residents says.

Valdini said Thursday tickets have been issued to three residents, including Pers, who has not taken down the string fence. Pers and the other residents were ordered to appear in village court on Feb. 8.

There has been an “explosion in resident goose numbers” throughout New York, according to the state Department of Environmental Conservation. All Canada geese are protected by federal and state laws and regulations. The DEC estimated in 2019 there were around 364,000 geese in the state, far outstripping “a more acceptable number” around 85,000.

A gaggle of geese cross Lakeview Avenue East, near Joe Pers' home. An...

A gaggle of geese cross Lakeview Avenue East, near Joe Pers' home. An overpopulation of Canada geese around the lakes in Brightwaters has become a nuisance to residents in the area, Pers said. Credit: Tom Lambui

To keep the geese population under control, the Village of Brightwaters has tried using fake swans and hired geese control companies to oil eggs in the spring, which keeps them from hatching, and use border collies to chase geese from local parks in the summer. 

"Growing up, we didn't have the problem with the geese the way we do now," said Pers, who has lived in the area his entire life.

Bill Alemaghides Jr., 50, owner of Long Island Geese Control, said geese prefer open grassy areas near water and said using border collies to chase, or “herd,” flocks of geese is the most effective method to control the birds.

The company has not been hired to tackle the population near the lakes, where residents have put up string fences, although they do patrol two of the village's parks with border collies in the summer. 

Fake swans or silhouettes of dogs don’t usually work for very long and string fences are not effective either, according to Alemaghides, who noted that the string could pose a danger to geese.

The geese population has "definitely" been growing year by year, Alemaghides said, which has made it harder to keep customers happy.

The DEC website says the best results for controlling geese are usually achieved through a combination of methods, such as not feeding the geese and allowing hunting.

Birds can get around most fencing but fences may prevent "direct attacks," according to the DEC. To be most effective, goose control fences should be at least 30 inches tall and solidly constructed.

Pers highlighted his concern about nitrogen loading from geese poop in local water bodies and potential health risks, such as E. coli and other bacteria. 

“I understand where [the mayor] is coming from. Rules are rules,” said Pers, who says his fence has been effective. “But if people can protect their front yard with rocks and pipes and buoys ... at the end of their driveway … what's my little string line doing?”

Latest videos