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Animal Defenders of Westchester
P.O. Box 205
Yonkers, NY 10704


Village continues with dog initiative after goose egg-oiling a success

By Chris Gramuglia, Sound and Town
July 19, 2013

Note: Several Mamk residents have been advocating for this common-sense initiative; although it would have been nice if Mamk would have just used the Rayvac machine they purchased and left the geese alone, this is a viable, cost-effective, community-based idea - and the 'No Kill' amendment has been upheld, much to our happiness  Kudos to everyone involved in getting the amendment passed - Kiley Blackman, Animal Defenders of Westchester

First came the oil. Then came the dogs.

The Village of Mamaroneck went through several months of debate in determining how best to deal with the overabundance of Canada geese, and their waste, in its parks. After a long discussion over whether or not to euthanize the abundant waterfowl, the Board of Trustees decided that allowing the USDA to oil eggs would be the best course of action.

Supplmenting the oiling program has been the continued help of a small number of volunteer “goose-dogs” that have helped reduced the presence of the birds. As a result, Harbor Island was recently found to be practically devoid of waterfowl.

The village is now taking steps to beef-up its goose-dog army with volunteers to keep the geese in check as fall approaches.

Egg-oiling, the first part of the approach, involved coating eggs in corn oil to stop oxygen exchange and further development of the contained embryo. During the month of March, the USDA uncovered 23 nests that contained 95 eggs, all of which were successfully oiled.

“Since we oiled the eggs we haven’t seen any babies at all,” said Village Manager Richard Slingerland. “I think someone said they saw one pair with some goslings, but that was it.”

Village Parks Department member John Carpenito also said that Harbor Island has been especially calm with respect to geese.

“Lately it has been very quiet. It’s been probably a month and a half and we haven’t seen any major flocks,” Carpenito said.

However, since 2002, the village has relied in part on residents willing to volunteer their dogs to chase geese out of the village’s parks and is now asking for more help from those wishing to be part of the village’s Canine Goose Chasing Corps.

According to Merrill Gisonda, owner of a short-haired pointer named Jeter, who has been chasing geese in the village for almost 10 years, the waterfowl are very adverse to the dogs.

“I have [Jeter] on the leash, and then I have him sit, and then he gets all excited when he sees the geese. Then, as soon as the geese see him, they just take off into the water.”

Gisonda said that the geese initially start walking faster upon first seeing Jeter, and then, when he is let off the leash to chase them, they fly away because of the perception that her dog is a predator.

Gisonda also said that, while patrolling the parks with Jeter, she has noticed more geese during different times of the year.

“I would say that the geese are worse in the fall and the spring, when people aren’t around. It’s in the summer when we see less of them,” she said.

Geese view dogs as predators and as a symbol of danger, which is why, when they are approached by a dog, they have a natural tendency to enter the nearest body of water—a place they know dogs will not follow.

While border collies are a popular breed for waterfowl management, the village does not ask for any specific breed of dog, but does have some requirements for handlers who want their animals to be a part of the effort to keep geese away.

Dogs must have valid, current licenses filed with the village manager’s office and up-to-date inoculation information must also be provided. Currently, the village provides identification tags for the approved canines. The tags must be obtained by owners before they can actively take part in the program. All approved dogs must undergo a two-week observation period, during which their obedience level will be evaluated.

Slingerland told The Sound and Town Report that, while the goose dogs have been successful, he would like to see the volunteer effort grow in numbers.

“I think we have seven or eight [dogs] right now, but we would certainly love to have more.” he said.

Trustee Leon Potok, a Democrat, said that there is an added incentive for people to volunteer their canines as goose dogs; it gives people the opportunity to let them run without a leash, and gives them access to the village’s parks. Currently dogs that are not part of the goose chasing effort, are not allowed to run free and must be kept on a leash in Harbor Island Park.

Among the goose dogs the village has employed are Gisonda’s dog, Jeter, a German Shepherd named Roxy, who is owned by village resident Ashley Lurie and a dachshund mix named Bentley, who is owned by Solange DeSantis, a resident and member of the Mamaroneck Council for the Arts.

The village will begin reaching out to dog owners with bulletins and announcements to recruit more volunteers to join the goose-management effort. 

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