Edgewater’s Practice of Gassing Geese Draws Criticism

By Brenda Flanagan

Edgewater’s got geese. Dozens of adults and a few goslings waddle along the Hudson River Walkway charming many people also out for a scenic stroll. But Canada geese are prolific poop machines — nobody likes that.

“The only thing I worry about is, there are so many s—- on the road. Sometimes I have to go [she hops around],” said Lucy Wang.

“They’re annoying, they leave a trail of dirt wherever they go. They eat the foliage. I do not consider them a pleasant addition to the area,” said Marcia Greenfield.

The borough agrees. It participates in a federal Wildlife Services program that trapped and killed more than 2,000 Canada geese across New Jersey in 2014 — gassed them to death with carbon dioxide. That outraged some area residents.

“We used to watch them swim in the water so they’re really not on the walkways. I don’t know why they’re gassing them and treating them so poorly and killing them so inhumanely. My taxes are paying to kill innocent animals. I don’t want it,” said Carolyn Mahmarian.

Advocates protested today along the walkway. They’ve collected more than 500 signatures on petitions here and online, calling on Edgewater to cancel its contract with the feds and stop killing the geese.

“The birds don’t die right away. It takes 30 minutes for the birds to die, and they’re suffocated. They bait them in the middle of the night, when nobody’s around, so nobody even knows what’s going on. Then they lure them into nets and then they put them in a truck where the USDA has a gas chamber,” said Doreen Fraga from the League of Humane Voters of NJ.

“I would like to know of another way to get rid of them because there are too many, but gassing in the middle of the night really sounds horrible,” said Cliffside Park resident Carol DeGramont.

Wildlife Services says its methods are “…safe, effective and humane. The use of CO2 gas for euthanizing Canada geese meets these criteria as noted by the AVMA guidelines…” And some residents want the geese gassed and gone.

“No, it doesn’t bother me. Not at all. I mean, they’re not shooting them,” said Greenfield.

Edgewater’s borough administrator says 70 New Jersey towns participate in the federal Wildlife Service geese control program.

So why pick on Edgewater? He said the geese “…stay in one place, they reproduce in great numbers and there’s no natural predators. It’s unfortunate. Whether or not you agree with the program, it at least attempts to control the population.”

“The town could do so many different things. Habitat modification is the number one solution and they just will not do it,” said Fraga.

But the borough administrator said they’ve tried non-lethal means like dogs and noisemakers and it didn’t work. The borough did put up signs asking people not to feed the geese, but they’re often ignored. The Edgewater calling is scheduled for sometime in June.

The protestors have scheduled a rally for Saturday, Memorial Day weekend.