Officials at Prospect Park are mulling ways to reduce the number of Canada geese at the park without actually killing them, ranging from coating goose eggs with oil, to forbidding the feeding of geese, to chasing them off with border collies patrolling from boats.
Eugene Patron, the spokesman for the Prospect Park Alliance, which manages the park, laid out the five possible goose-management techniques discussed Wednesday night at a public meeting of the park’s wildlife management advisory committee:
* No-Feed Zone: Mr. Patron said that the parks commissioner could designate the lake a no-feed zone. Under this plan, volunteers and a public education campaign would be deployed to “explain that if people care about the geese and don’t want the government coming in and culling them, then feeding them and attracting them is actually bad for them,” Mr. Patron said.
He was referring to the slaughter of some 400 Prospect Park geese by federal authorities last July as part of a plan to eradicate the animals near airports to keep them from getting sucked into jet engines. Other geese have arrived to replace the dead ones, and the park’s population now stands at about 170, wildlife advocates say.
* Egg Oiling: “You coat the egg with oil so that it can’t mature,” Mr. Patron said. “There’s no exchange of gases.” In effect, the little embryos are suffocated inside their shells. This tactic, Mr. Patron said, which is endorsed by the Humane Society, would require state permits. It would be done in the spring, when eggs are laid.
* Border collies: Specially trained dogs, handled by professional trainers, would patrol the lake from the prows of boats to discourage geese from remaining in the park after breeding season and before they molt. While collies are already used in Central Park for goose control, Mr. Patron said that there were concerns that the dogs would disturb nongoose wildlife, too. “Before the dogs, let’s get the eggs first,” he said. “Then we can worry about chasing away geese. ” Notwithstanding an article in The Daily News Thursday stating that the park planned to deploy collies, Mr. Patron said, “There are no immediate plans for border collies in Prospect Park.”
* Habitat Modification: geese like bodies of water bordered by open lawns — “soft grass where they can land and move quickly and forage,” Mr. Patron said. Tall reeds would be less enticing.
* Research to determine the sustainable number of geese in the park — a level that would not result in crowding out other species . “We can’t say that the city and the federal government won’t still sign agreements to come in” and kill geese, Mr. Patron said. “But we know that if we have a large population of geese in Prospect Park they’re more likely to come in and try to control it.”
Anne-Katrin Titze, the goose advocate who first brought the July massacre to the world’s attention, called the border collie proposal “the most cruel action short of killing them again” as it would involve chasing off adult geese “at the time when their young, obviously helpless and flightless goslings are born.”
The wildlife management advisory committee, consisting of parks officials, wildlife advocates, park users and other stakeholders, will decide what course or courses of action to take in the weeks and months to come, Mr. Patron said.
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