CHEEKTOWAGA, NEW YORK
106 geese from town park rounded up and killed
By BARBARA O'BRIEN
News Southtowns Bureau
Stiglmeier Park visitors were stunned by what they didn't see at the Cheektowaga Park on Wednesday - Canada geese.
Federal workers, at the request of the town, rounded up 106 geese Tuesday night and took them to an out-of-town poultry processor.
"I don't understand," said an emotional Marie Yetman, part of a grass-roots group that had been working to prevent the killing of the geese. "They're gone."
More geese will appear, said John J. Jaroszewski Jr., director of the town parks division.
"They'll probably be in the park within a day or so," he said.
He said it took several hours for a handful of U.S. Department of Agriculture staff members to put the 106 geese into crates Tuesday night. The geese are molting and cannot fly.
"We did leave birds at the pond last night," Jaroszewski said Wednesday.
Four families of geese and goslings were crated and taken to the nearby Firemen's Park on Losson Road so they would not be taken in the roundup, he said. He surmised that the geese that remained at the Stiglmeier Park pond heard the geese at the Firemen's Park and walked over there.
There were a total of 180 geese in Firemen's Park, Stiglmeier Park, Dr. Victor Reinstein Nature Preserve and the overflow retention basin by Cayuga Creek, Jaroszewski said. The roundup occurred only at Stiglmeier Park, he said.
Many parkgoers have endorsed the town's efforts to control the geese because of the large amount of droppings they leave. At the same time, the roundup and subsequent killing of the birds angered animal rights activists, who had been plying the town for weeks with information on how to control geese with nonlethal methods, such as using dogs to scare them away or taking the geese to a wildlife preserve.
"With everything that has been given to them - I'm livid," said Kelly Robinson of Depew, one of those taking the lead in fighting the town's plans. "They're double talkers."
Town Supervisor Dennis H. Gabryszak told The Buffalo News last Friday that nonlethal means still were being considered. Just a few days before that, at its June 14 work session, the Town Board told Jaroszewski that, if the birds could not be moved to a preserve several hundred miles away, the town should go forward with the third and lethal phase of the population-control program. Transporting the geese was not an option.
Gabryszak said Wednesday that a conference call was held Monday involving himself, Jaroszewski, Council Member James J. Jankowiak and a representative of the USDA.
"He said there were just too many," Gabryszak said. "His recommendation was to remove some of the geese."
The town followed the federal recommendation to permanently remove some geese and to follow up with nonlethal means, Gabryszak said.
Jaroszewski said because of the extreme heat this week, the USDA recommended it would be less stressful for the geese to remove them at night, when it was cooler to transport them. He acknowledged that rounding them up after the park closed prevented a possible confrontation with activists.
Jaroszewski said the cost for the three-phase program probably will be under $10,000, almost half of what was budgeted. He said the processing fee for the geese is $12 per bird, although that might be lower.
Some of the birds will be tested for pesticides, heavy metals and PCBs, after Robinson suggested the geese are not safe to eat because toxic chemicals have been found in the Bellevue area of the town. The meat will not be taken to the food bank until the town gets the test results, Jaroszewski said.
Jaroszewski said now that the goose population is down to about 74, the town must continue its control efforts or the population will spike again.
"Now it's time to use the nonlethal means," he said, adding the town has talked to a couple vendors about using border collies to chase the birds away.
Geese stay frozen but most tests OK
By John J. Hopkins
October 14, 2005
Test results of ten Canada Geese carcasses collected from Stiglmeier Park indicate that the birds’ toxin levels were mostly within acceptable ranges, but the remaining carcasses will remain frozen because of an elevated lead level in the kidney of one goose.
The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) rounded up the birds June 29 in the third and final stage of a reduction program requested by the town. Meat from the birds was to be donated to local food banks, but officials decided to first have it tested for PCB’s, pesticides and heavy metals following pressure from protesters.
A Pennsylvania laboratory tested the brain, kidney, liver and breast meat samples from the geese. The ten birds tested represent 9.4 percent of the 106 geese that were collected and were not processed for possible meat donation.
Richard Chipman of the USDA’s Wildlife Services said that the agency is working with national experts to fully understand what "elevated" lead in goose kidneys might mean to a person consuming breast meat from that goose.
"Until national protocols are in place, New York Wildlife Services will not be donating the processed goose meat from the Town of Cheektowaga to local food shelters," explained Chipman. "The meat will remain frozen and stored at a Wildlife Services facility for later donation or disposal once a national protocol has been worked out."
Kelly Robinson, a vocal critic of the geese reduction plan, said that the lack of protocol was one of the reasons why she has been so outspoken.
"Nothing’s in place," Robinson said, adding the town board "is well educated" in the amount of toxins in the area. "The USDA and DEC are just as much at fault for not having a protocol. We’re supposed to be protecting (the homeless), not give them something that’s toxic."
Robinson said she was pleased to hear that the meat will not be distributed until there is a clear conclusion that it is safe.
Councilmember James J. Jankowiak said that the USDA will test geese in New Jersey and other areas where there is an abundance of chemical plants and heavy industry.
"They’ve been giving away geese up and down the seaboard," Jankowiak said, adding he wouldn’t be surprised if similar protocol is applied to other wildlife tabbed for food bank and other charitable organizations. "I think you’re going to see a change in the USDA and DEC policy on what to do with the animal."
If the town is advised that the remaining geese meat cannot be donated, it will be discarded.
Four tests were conducted at the Pennsylvania Animal Diagnostic Laboratory in suburban Philadelphia. An organic chemical screen and a chlorinated pesticide and PCB screen were performed on the livers, an exposure to chemicals test was performed on the brains and the kidneys and breast tissue were subjected to a complete mineral screen.
According to the lab report, "very slightly elevated lead levels were detected in one pooled kidney sample, though lead was not detected in the corresponding pooled muscle sample."
Samples of kidney, liver and breast meat were "pooled" into groups of five for testing. This is considered standard practice, Chipman reported.
"None of the four tests showed elevated levels of any of the compounds we tested for with the exception of one pooled kidney sample," said Chipman. "This description of "elevated" lead levels in the kidney does not necessarily mean it is harmful to the goose and should not be interpreted to mean that this would impact human health if consumed."
Chipman also noted that only the breast meat, and not organ meat, is under consideration for donation. He reiterated that there was no lead found in the breast meat of any of the samples.
Jankowiak, who chairs the town’s Department of Parks, Recreation and Youth Services committee, shared the results with the town board at Tuesday’s work session.
Jankowiak said that despite the geese reduction program’s unpopularity with a vocal group of wildlife supporters, the town has received positive feedback from other park users.
"The football and baseball players are saying the park is much cleaner now," Jankowiak said. "And people still see wildlife, they’re just not in excess."
OCTOBER 21, 2005
Letters to the Editor
The discovery of elevated lead levels in the kidney of one of the geese killed at Stiglmeier Park comes as no surprise (October 14 issue, "Geese stay frozen but most tests OK").
The Humane Society of the United States has long argued that the donation of goose meat to food banks and shelters is a stunt that poses potential health risks to an already vulnerable population and provides a convenient excuse to kill geese who become nuisances to users of public parks.
Wild birds can be exposed to any number of environmental contaminants that could put human health at risk.
The cost of rounding up, killing and processing these birds has surely surpassed what it would cost to provide safe and wholesome food to the disadvantaged.
There are other, better, ways to solve conflicts with Canada geese and these are the solutions we must turn to, not these absurd excuses built around wise use.
John Hadidian, Ph.D.,
Director, Urban Wildlife Programs
The Humane Society of the United States
Cheektowaga town officials can no longer justify their cruel act of slaughtering Canada geese based on donating the goose meat to the less fortunate. (October 14 issue, "Geese stay frozen but most tests OK").
The toxin levels in the geese, whether elevated or not, prove the geese have far more to fear from man than man has to fear the geese. First we poison them by introducing toxins into the environment and then we slaughter them for doing what comes naturally.
But apparently James Jankowiak, who chairs the town’s Department of Parks and Recreation committee, doesn’t see it that way. He continues to defend the goose slaughter by putting his own spin on the outcome when he reports, "that despite the geese reduction program’s unpopularity with a vocal group of wildlife supporters, the town has received positive feedback from other park users." In no way does this confirm that the majority of park users share his lethal position on resolving human-goose conflicts. As evidenced by the rapidly growing Border Collie industry, there is good reason to believe the majority prefers the geese be managed in a non-lethal manner.
Coalition to Prevent the Destruction of Canada Geese
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