The gassing of the geese which normally live around Collins Lake is set to take place sometime within the next two weeks, and the plan to use the geese to feed the hungry is not sitting well with members of the group Geese Peace.
Scotia Mayor Michael McLaughlin announced last week that the geese will be gathered, and the meat will be donated to local food pantries and shelters. The village was contacted by the New York State Conservation Council and asked to take part in the `Hunters Helping the Hungry` program. In spite of community objection, McLaughlin and the village board are standing by their decision to remove and gas the geese on the grounds that they create a health hazard.
Ray Gawless, Scotia resident and a local representative of the council, spoke at the village board meeting in an attempt to educate the audience on the program.
`There are several pantries who are happy to receive what is a healthy and wholesome meat. We avoid wasting a resource that will in turn benefit many people. This program is one that I consider very successful,` said Gawless.
Reponses to the announcement ignited heckling from the crowd as Gawless spoke.
Trustee Armon Benny attempted to regain order by interrupting Gawless, asking `Geese Peace` supporters to allow Gawless to speak.
`Every meeting we listen and listen to your points and we listened with our hearts. We may not agree, but we have common courtesy, its called common courtesy,` said Benny.
McLaughlin told the audience that a public session is a time to allow people to speak, and is not run as a question-and-answer session.
`You will have a chance to speak, we do not yell questions as others are talking, this is how our meetings are run,` said McLaughlin.
Gawless said the breast of the geese would be used after the United States Department of Agriculture testing is done ` at no charge to the village.
Glenville resident Cheryl Chew objected to killing the geese and just giving the meat away to `poor people.`
`I believe you profit from such agreements and your salaries are paid by such arrangements,` Chew said. `We’ve already given the land to the geese, can’t we give them the lake? The volunteers of Geese Peace are almost as beautiful as the geese. They have worked so hard. You are killing us, you are breaking our hearts.`
Delmar resident Ward Stone, a New York state pathologist and hunter, spoke as a supporter for the group saying geese are raised to stock and release in parks lakes and ponds.
`We build ponds, parks and golf courses,` he said. `These are places that attract geese. I am opposed to the killing of the geese planned for June, July and for future years unless a clear health risk is apparent. There are thousands of Canadian geese living in the Capital District and in non-hunting areas. We need to find an overall plan to teach our children you don’t kill something because it’s a nuisance.`
For the past few weeks, volunteers have worked `shifts` in an attempt to scare the geese from the water. Geese Peace` spokeswoman Laura Brown said the plan is working and the geese are fleeing the area.
`Our group of volunteers asks that you implement a plan for an effective way to remove the geese in an non-lethal way and that you produce a population management plan,` said Brown.
Sunnyside Road resident Cindy Pytlovany, whose residence sits on the lake, said she woke up Wednesday morning to see between 120-150 geese on the island at Collins Lake.
`There were a minimum of 120-150 geese this morning,` Pytlovany said. `They are moving onto our lawns. My neighbor had about 35 geese in his backyard this week. When they leave the park they do not travel far.`
Spokespersons of `Geese Peace` issued the following statement on Tuesday regarding the boycott of Freedom Park’s Independence Day event:
`In a recent meeting of the Save the Geese steering committee, the group decided to launch `Skip Scotia,` a boycott of Scotia’s Fourth of July celebration in Collins Park, to be held on Friday, June 30. The Save the Geese group asks residents to instead attend Clifton Park’s Fourth of July festivities, to be held on Tuesday, July 4, in celebration of Independence Day and Clifton Park’s recent adoption of humane non-lethal methods to reduce their Canada goose population, including the use of border collies.`
Brown said she feels even with the numbers of the geese diminishing she knows it is far from over.
In other village business, a proposal was passed to introduce a curfew law. The law would require children under the age of 18 to be off village streets by 11 p.m. Sunday through Thursday and by midnight Friday and Saturday.
`There will be of course exceptions to the rule such as school functions. With vandalism and loitering, it’s time to introduce such a law,` said McLaughlin.“