No more Canada geese will be killed in Ocean County. For 2012, at least.
Ocean County Freeholder John Bartlett announced on Tuesday that the US Department of Agriculture has informed the county that the population of resident Canada geese has been controlled enough that "there is no necessity of any further geese roundup this spring. It is over."
Bartlett said that 10 geese were killed this spring, but the bigger impact of the program with the USDA has been the egg addling.
"I asked the parks department to put together records and over the last 11 years, 1,309 eggs have been addled, preventing them from hatching," Bartlett said.
For the fourth straight meeting, members of the several animal rights groups were on hand to protest the goose roundups. This time, however, David Sauder, president of the Animal Rights Activists of New Jersey, thanked the freeholders for sitting down with him and representatives of several organizations, including Geese Peace and the Humane Society of the United States, to hear their suggestions for nonlethal means of controlling and discouraging the resident geese from settling at the county's parks.
Sauder also urged the board once more to suspend the contract with the USDA, to which Bartlett responded with the announcement of the USDA's report.
Bartlett said the freeholders would continue to look at nonlethal methods for discouraging geese from settling in certain areas, including flashing lights at night that are supposed to disturb the animals. But he also said the county would not rule out using the USDA again should other methods fail to keep the goose population in check.
Bartlett did agree, however, that the particular method the USDA uses -- herding the geese into cages and then gassing them with carbon dioxide -- presented images that evoked powerful reactions.
"I think we have an obligation to look into other methods," Bartlett said, adding that he felt the USDA also should consider other methods, or at least be able to show the gassing is not inhumane, as they are the ones taking the responsibility for the resident goose population. It was the USDA years ago who bred geese in captivity to help support the dwindling migratory Canada goose population, Bartlett said, but the program had an unexpected consequence because the new geese never migrated.
"Our first obligation is to have clean parks," Bartlett said.