The end is near for the geese who flock around the pond near the Scarsdale Public Library.
The Village of Scarsdale, in response to complaints about befouled benches and grass in the area, is working with the U.S. Department of Agriculture to eliminate the geese by killing the birds and donating their meat to a food bank.
The adult geese will be captured during their molting period, and their nests will be treated with corn oil to prevent eggs from hatching.
Alfred A. Gatta, Scarsdale’s village manager, said earlier efforts to deter the geese using a border collie and noisemakers didn’t work.
“We’ve tried a number of different methods, and they were never successful. We’ve back off four or five years ago, and the geese population has multiplied. They leave their droppings everywhere,” Gatta said, adding: “People can’t even walk on the grass. They can’t sit on the benches. They can’t use the gazebo.”
Scarsdale is following in the footsteps of Westchester County, which worked with the USDA to eliminate 472 geese at Sprain Lake Golf Course last summer.
Just like then, Scarsdale’s plans are drawing criticism from animal activists who say humane alternatives haven’t been explored.
“There are so many (animal) advocates in Westchester. Contact us before you discuss killing them,” said Kiley Blackman of Yonkers, a member of Animal Defenders of Westchester.
She credits public outcry at the goose kill last summer with the county’s decision to purchase the “Goosinator” in the fall. The radio-controlled artificial predator chases the geese off golf courses or other areas.
Peter Tartaglia, deputy commissioner of the county parks department, said he isn’t ruling out another culling of the birds if the population rises sharply again.
Less than 100 geese live at the golf course currently, a number small enough to be daunted by the Goosinator.
“The number was so high. The Goosinator couldn’t have accomplished anything. Now that we have the number down, it’s residing at Sprain Lake,” he said.
The cost of the device, at about $3,000, is less than the $5,054 the village has set aside for its program with the USDA.
Gatta said that strategies that drive the geese off the park property are only a partial solution because the birds don’t go far.
“The largest problem is the droppings to into the water there and they wash into the Bronx River, and you get a high fecal count in the Bronx River and the state doesn’t like that at all,” Gatta said.
Loraine J. Izzo of Bronxville, a volunteer wildlife rehabilitator, hopes to contact Scardale’s leaders to figure out alternatives that don’t include killing the birds.
“I am appalled by the fact they want to do that,” she said. “There’s so many of us who are willing to help Scarsdale at no cost to them.”