Edgewater’s done killing geese … because it’s running out of them
EDGEWATER — For Mayor Michael McPartland, it was almost as hard to avoid a goose poop-related pun as it is for people in the borough to not step in the slimy stuff.
"You have no idea how much 'crap' I took last year," he said Wednesday during an appearance on New Jersey 101.5's "Deminski and Doyle."
"I appreciate the passion of the animal rights activists, but I think we were kind of singled out because, No. 1, we are in a great location."
For several years, McPartland said Edgewater — which sits in the flight paths of two of the nation's busiest international airports — was part of a program run by the USDA, along with 70 other municipalities in the state, to euthanize geese.
While in the past few years the borough has used lethal means of controlling the geese population, McPartland said that only came after several years of trying non-lethal methods that included dogs, cutouts of dogs, and loud birds. None of those, he said, were effective as the birds learned they were decoys and returned to their business on the fields.
After seeing a drastic drop in the number of birds euthanized last year due to work at the local fields and parks, the borough is going to once again try the non-lethal methods after just seven birds were captured and killed last year, he said.
He said with fields sitting right along the Hudson River, they were prime targets for the birds and their poop.
"It was kind of a soupy mess for a long time," he said. "A lot of parents in the town, they were sick of their kids coming home filled with goose poop."
As the borough looked to take a stronger approach to the goose problem, McPartland said, the issue brought in outside objectors who were against the lethal approach.
While saying he appreciated the passion of the animal rights groups that became regulars at council meetings, McPartland said in some cases they went too far. That included seeing pictures of himself at the dais with a mustache like that of Adolf Hitler, and even being called "the Goose Nazi."
He said despite the efforts of the animal rights groups to portray the people of the borough in a negative light, the focus was always on the people he and the other council members represented. In a story last year in the Cliffside-Edgewater Daily Voice, McPartland defended the program.
"The health and welfare of their children was at risk. That is why this program was implemented."
"It got a little bit embarrassing for everybody in the town," he said. "We're not evil people and they were trying to portray the town as a bunch of evil people and we're not."
The mayors says the borough is in the direct flight path of Newark Liberty International Airport, and also on the path to LaGuardia. When host Jeff Deminski asked about the risk of the birds to passing aircraft, McPartland pointed out that when Capt. Chesley "Sully" Sullenberger made his famous "Miracle on the Hudson" landing, he did so "basically right in front of Edgewater."
As the borough returns to non-lethal methods, McPartland said he believes it was right to use the lethal approach when the goose problem was at its worst.
"People were coming to the meetings back then, parents that were concerned about their kids," he said. "So something needed to be done from a local standpoint."
One of the biggest problem areas, he said, was Veterans Field, which also ultimately helped contribute to reducing the problem as construction work largely scared the birds away. In addition to habitat modification at the park, the mayor said he is also in favor of exploring the possibility of the borough hiring a border collie to help scare the birds away.
Admittedly, he said, that plan may not work as dogs proved ineffective the last time the borough tried non-lethal methods.
"The birds see the truck (carrying the dogs) and then they walk into the river," he said. With a dedicated dog, he said, he believes results will be different.
"If we get our own dog, and the habitat modification we did, I think we'll be good."
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