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CASH Courier > 2002 Spring / Summer Issue

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The C.A.S.H. Courier
From the Spring / Summer 2002 Issue

WATERFOWL THREATENED by FWS CONTINUES

We wish to thank Ray Adell, of Long Island, for writing the following letter to Sens. Clinton and Schumer, thereby enhancing our position. Mr. Adell is a former fishing and outdoor reporter, and had a fishing radio program for 50 years.

It has come to my attention that the United States Fish and Wildlife Service is anticipating embracing an unacceptable alternative in it’s response to pressure from a region in NY which is claiming an adverse economic impact due to their perception of fish depredations by cormorants.

The cormorant is a bird that is covered by the Migratory Bird Treaty Act, and is thus under the protection of the USFWS, which, nevertheless, has prepared an Environmental Impact Study in anticipation of turning over permitting processes—which currently must be reviewed by the USFWS — to the States.

I see this as an abandonment of this agency’s responsibilities and it will likely result in extremely undesirable lethal means to correct the perceived problem.

The favored alternative being embraced by the NMFS is to allow this permitting process to apply nationwide, but that at this time, only the state of NY would avail itself of that option. The region in question is near Lake Ontario. Watertown is the municipality claiming impact due to loss of smallmouth bass . Everything about this is wrong:

It is legally questionable. It is scientifically invalid — tests having shown that cormorants’ diet is predominately fish other than bass, that there is no depletion in the number of bass in the area in question. They are smaller than they were but this is due to environmental factors other than cormorants.

Any of the other alternatives would be preferable but mainly non lethal means like egg and nest destruction which have proved effective in other areas of NY State and elsewhere should be employed under the aegis of the NMFS not the states.

I was a fishing and outdoor reporter for half a century and an amateur naturalist all my life and also as a concerned citizen am soliciting your attention to this issue and your support. It is also a good thing to show our youngsters, the next generation of sportsmen, that what action we have to take sometimes, should preferably be non lethal, certainly so, when all the evidence points to supporting that action.

There is also a Public Relations Migraine lurking not far, embarrassment for both the Federal agency, shirking its job, and for the state of NY through its Department of Environmental Conservation which has been on the wrong side of this issue.


COULD SEN. SCHUMER BE LISTENING?
Schumer calls upon FWS to develop a pilot program to explore nonlethal methods.

US Senator Chuck Schumer asks US Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) to develop a pilot program to solve Long Island’s Canada Geese overpopulation problem.

On June 12, 2002, Sen. Schumer wrote to the Director of the Fish and Wildlife Service:

Hon. Steve Williams
Director, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Main Interior
1849 C Street NW, Room 3012
Washington, DC 20240

Dear Director Williams:

I am writing today to request the development of a pilot program to explore nonlethal methods of controlling the population of resident Canada geese on Long Island. Canada geese settle wherever they find grass and water, favoring cultivated areas such as parks and recreational facilities, creating a major nuisance for anyone who uses Long Island’s parks, playgrounds, athletic facilities and open spaces.

On Long Island, the geese pose a year-round problem, destroying fields at important public facilities such as Nassau County’s Eisenhower Park and Suffolk County’s Indian Island Golf Course and Bergen Point Golf Course.

Their droppings are both a major inconvenience and hazard to Long Island residents, as well as an environmental risk to our soil and water. As a result, I would like the Fish and Wildlife Service to implement a pilot program to explore the various options for controlling Long Island’s goose population.

In developing the pilot program, the Fish and Wildlife Service should emphasize humane, nonlethal methods of controlling Long Island’s Canada goose population. Hunting is not an option in the suburban communities of Long Island, and extermination is unnecessary. When not allowed to overwhelm local facilities, Canada geese can be a pleasing addition to the natural landscape. In addition, many community members may find lethal methods objectionable. Nonlethal methods have been effective for many communities elsewhere in the region and should be pursued as thoroughly as possible before lethal methods are considered.

The pilot program should include several different nonlethal methods that can be implemented, both independently and in conjunction, in various communities throughout Long Island. Some methods that have worked in other communities include:

"Addling" eggs. Reproduction rates can be decreased by interfering with the eggs’ development: either by replacing them with imitations or by prohibiting embryo development through shaking or treatment with oil. Rather than issuing individual permits for egg addling, the Fish and Wildlife Service should consider implementing it on a larger scale as part of the pilot program.

Habitat management. Tall grass and other tall plants impair visibility for the geese, making them feel vulnerable to predators. Informative signs can discourage people from feeding the geese, as geese that receive food from humans are more likely to stay near them.

Physical barriers. Installing fences along a shoreline at night disrupts landing patterns and blocks land access to geese on the water. Chemical deterrents. Spray repellents make grass unattractive or inedible to geese without harming them. Commonly used goose repellents are not disruptive to humans.

Scare tactics. Plastic owls, moving "scarecrows," noise machines and movement detectors that shoot water or laser beams can all scare geese away from an area without harming them.

Herding. Dogs specially trained to herd geese can encourage them to move by chasing them on a regular basis.

Under the pilot program, each of these methods would be put into effect in a different participating Long Island community; methods could also be combined in order to explore every option for nonlethal goose control.

After a year-long trial period, the effectiveness of each method would be evaluated and a long-term goose control plan could be developed for Long Island with input from the Fish and Wildlife Service and from the participating communities.

A pilot program emphasizing nonlethal goose control methods would enable the people of Long Island to help the Fish and Wildlife Service determine the best way to address the negative effects on Long Island of Canada goose overpopulation.

Thank you for considering my request. If you have any questions, please do not hesitate to contact me.

Sincerely,

Charles E. Schumer
United States Senator


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