After months of tug of war between animal activists and the Scotia village board, the battle is finally over, or at least for this summer season. The plan to round up about 50 geese has been called off under the advisement of the United States Department of Agriculture. This is a direct result of the efforts from the group Save the Geese, which worked to haze the geese away from Collin’s Park, Freedom Park and Quinlan Park.
The village announced in early spring that the geese, which have plagued Collins Park, were to be rounded up and gassed under the direction of the USDA. A group of about 30 people worked in shifts to scare the geese away from the park during their molting season. The plan was successful, although Mayor Mike McLaughlin said that about 25 geese were on the lake as late as yesterday.
`The geese have severely disrupted use of our parks and contributed to the pollution in Collins Lake,` McLaughlin said in a press release. `The citizens’ hazing effort has been successful in scattering the Scotia resident goose population, temporarily reducing the number. The USDA has recommended we cancel the euthanization plans for this year and the village has accepted.`
Spokesperson for Save the Geese Laura Brown said the group rejoiced when they heard the news.
`Something I don’t think he (McLaughlin) understands is that we are never going to give up,` Brown said. `Not then, not now. We always wanted to save the geese more than anyone wanted to kill them. We know we will have to fight this battle again and we won’t give up now.`
The group went into a temporary state of panic last week when the USDA visited the area and banded about 45 geese. The group learned that this is done as an effort to track and learn from the geese for educational purposes, and not to harm them in any way.
McLaughlin said the village only acted in an effort to ensure a clean, safe environment for their taxpaying citizens to enjoy. He says the village and park boards have always worked under the advice of local, state and federal wildlife experts on park matters.
`We thank the agencies for their professional support of the village and their continuing work to track the problem,` McLaughlin said. `We also thank these agencies and the New York state Conservation Council for their support of a plan to utilize the goose meat at food pantries and meal sites.`
Last month, the state Conservation Council offered to take the meat from the village and donate it to local pantries, which currently have a program that allows hunters to donate meat to food pantries.
The mayor says he hope the citizens continue to work the lakes and parks in an effort to keep the geese away for the rest of the season.
Brown said Save the Geese will continue to work to make sure the geese don’t make the park unusable
`As a group, we are fully aware that the real work is just beginning. We embrace the challenge. It is a labor of love,` said Brown.
Brown said the group hopes to be able to sit down in the fall and to be able to work with the village board concerning the geese population that will return next spring.
`The village plan was adopted after considerable study, profes-sional consultation and anguish,` McLaughlin said. `The decisions in 2007 will be no less difficult.“