MAHOPAC, N.Y. - The town is looking once again this year to conduct a Canada geese roundup, removing as many as 125 of the birds from Mahopac lakes and ponds.
Many consider the geese to be a nuisance, defecating on lawns, beaches, and docks and in public parks where children play.
The geese-removal operation was requested by the Lake Mahopac and Lake Casse park district advisory boards and by Recreation and Parks Director Jim Gilchrist on behalf of Sycamore Park/Long Pond. The U.S. Department of the Interior specifies the rules for the removal, which it calls a “depredation.”
Seventy-five birds are expected to be removed from Lake Mahopac at a cost of $10,125; 15 birds would be culled from Lake Casse for $5,225, and Long Pond would have 35 birds removed, costing $5,525. The permit caps the total number of birds that can be removed at 150.
The cost of the bird removal in the two park districts would be borne by the residents of those districts. Town officials said there is enough money in those districts’ budgets to cover the costs. Nothing was set aside in the town budget for the Lake Mahopac operation, Gilchrist noted, but he said the money can be transferred from the contingency fund balance.
At Lake Mahopac, three to four sites will be used to corral and capture the birds, which will be herded using kayaks, canoes and gas-powered 12-foot boats. Long Pond and Lake Casse will use beach areas for capture sites.
Tom Maglaras, a licensed wildlife agent, said in a letter to the town that a May 7 survey found 50-plus birds on Lake Mahopac; 23 birds on the ballfields near Long Pond and two birds on Lake Casse.
“I will make another visit to Long Pond and Lake Casse on June 24 or 25 and report back to [town engineer Rich] Franzetti on what I find and whether or not to proceed with these two roundups,” he wrote.
“The park districts are requesting this,” said Supervisor Ken Schmitt. “The geese will be caught and corralled in pens, crated and delivered to a poultry processor in Steuben County, New York. The roundup will take place in the coming weeks. This is harvesting that we have done in the past.”
The cost of processing the geese is $15 per bird. The birds will then be donated to homeless shelters.
Councilwoman Suzi McDonough said she understood the reason for the roundup, but still couldn’t bring herself to vote in favor of it.
“You know my feelings,” she said at the Town Board’s June 12 meeting. “I have never voted for it and don’t plan on voting for it this time. That is their home out there. Where else are they supposed to go? I do understand [the reason for it]. You go down to the Chamber Park and you see goose poop all over the place. I understand but I just don’t like killing the birds.”
Schmitt said he understood McDonough’s point of view and felt her pain, but believes it is something that has to be done.
“You know what the issues are: they poop all over the place,” Schmitt said. “I am an animal lover as well and don’t want to harm any animals. I don’t like to do it, but I think it’s necessary.”
Councilman Jonathan Schneider said the depredation shouldn’t move forward until other alternatives are tried.
“There is technology out there and we should try it instead of [spending] $20,000 right now,” he said. “It seems there are alternatives that should be attempted before we send them out for processing.”
Both councilmen John Lupinacci and Mike Barile said they would vote in favor of the removal.
“The lake districts have done everything they can possibly do,” Barile said. “The meat is not getting wasted. It’s going to homeless shelters. It’s been done before and it’s a proven solution.”
Mahopac businessman Dave Nicholas told the board that he opposed the roundup, calling it “inhumane” and a “waste of taxpayer money within the [lake] districts.”
“It’s just a few wealthy landowners with big lawns who are too damn lazy and cheap to do something about it themselves,” Nicholas said. “One of those landowners is on that park district board and he told me himself two years ago that they’re doing it because [the geese] were messing up his lawn. I wanted to slap him for that. We just spent $10,000 to clean up his lawn. So, we murder a bunch of geese?”
Nicholas presented the board with a packet that, he said, contained information on how to get rid of the birds without hurting them that could be done for “almost nothing.”
The roundup was approved, as expected, at the June 19 voting meeting, the project would begin sometime over the next several weeks.