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Feature Stories

Our Goose Isn’t Cooked

While visions of gassed geese danced in the heads of Town of North Hempstead residents, as the town recently explored that option as a solution to the poop-riddled parks that are the hallmark of Canadian geese, residents of other areas of Nassau were surprisingly quiet.

It’s not that these Long Islanders don’t love — or hate — the fecal-infesting fowl. It’s that many places have found solutions that are quite effective and not nearly as extreme as euthanasia. It’s a program called GeesePeace.

Founded in 2000, this Virginia-based nonprofit (www.geesepeace.com) works with communities around the country, and even in the U.K., to (as the name suggests) make peace with geese.

“We are pro solutions,” said David Feld, the group’s national program director. “We bring opposite sides together and work out a solution that gives people their parks back and is not harmful to wildlife.”

The cornerstone of GeesePeace is knowing a lot about Canadian geese. Off the top of his head, Feld can give you a three-credit course in the near-eradication and amazing recovery of the species. Mating, molting and migration are on the syllabus, too.

The primary actions the group recommends are encouraging people to not feed the geese and for specially trained pros and volunteers to “oil the eggs.”

From April through mid May, the geese lay and sit on their eggs. The nests are surprisingly easy to find. But instead of shooing the birds and cruelly crushing their eggs, the GeesePeacers coat the eggs with corn oil. This closes up the pores and prevents the embryos from developing. First, of course, they make sure that development hasn’t gone very far.

Generally, the goose is none the wiser and continues sitting fruitlessly on the eggs. Had the eggs been taken, the goose would simply lay more. And chasing the goose would only relocate the nest within the immediate area.

Oiling, Feld said, has proven to be hugely effective. Not only because it slows population growth, but also because geese that don’t have goslings leave the area and spend much of the spring, summer and early fall in Canada’s James Bay. And birds that are flying north aren’t pooping in our parks.

The only birds that stay around Nassau County are those who are accustomed to humans catering their meals and those with goslings.

Yes, the others return come fall, but amid the leaves and snow, the poop isn’t the same problem it is during kickball season.

Oil the eggs and refrain from feeding the geese year after year, and there will be no need for a gas-the-geese round up, said Feld.

In fact, he said that in the weeks ahead he will be visiting Long Island to recognize local governments that have been faithfully following and benefiting from the GeesePeace plan for at least five years. Obviously, the Town of North Hempstead isn’t on the award list. But the Towns of Hempstead and Oyster Bay are. Get details on the local programs at www.townof

hempstead.org/geesepeace and by Googling “Town of Oyster Bay geese control.”

“Most people haven’t heard of us,” said Feld. “We’re low key. But we’re out there doing the work, giving people the tools they need to solve the problem.”