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Wildlife Watch Inc.
Helping People, Environment, and Wildlife
PO BOX 562
NEW PALTZ, NY 12561
Voice:(845) 256-1400
Fax:(845-622-7999)
e-mail: wildwatch@earthlink.net
Contact: Joe Miele, Vice President, Wildlife Watch

The Honorable Stephen Scheuler
Municipal Building
Main St.
Bradley Beach, NJ  07720
Fax: 732-775-1782

May 9, 2003

Dear Mayor Scheuler:

Wildlife Watch Inc. is  a wildlife protection group that seeks to educate the public about the mismanagement of wildlife by state and federal wildlife agencies and the destruction of wildlife and ecosystems in the name of sport hunting and game management.

It has come to our attention that Bradley Beach is seeking to pass an ordinance prohibiting the feeding of waterfowl on Fletcher Lake.  We have learned that there is currently a five-year old ordinance in effect that permits the public to feed waterfowl.  As mayor, we urge you to do what you can to preserve the current ordinance that allows the public to feed these birds.  It benefits no one to deprive children of the pleasure of a bonding relationship with wildlife, and we certainly don't want to punish them for it. 

Canada geese are New Jersey's most misunderstood waterfowl.  They are slandered as being dirty, aggressive, and disease carrying.  When the truth is told about Canada geese, it benefits the community as well as the geese themselves.

Canada geese mate for life. Mated pairs raise and protect their young together and will also look out for one another over the course of their lives.  They are extremely devoted to one another.  Those who have spent time observing geese will tell you that these very emotional and very intelligent creatures deeply mourn not only the loss of their mates, but also the destruction of their eggs.

One of the most common complaints about geese is that their droppings will somehow cause a disease in humans.   The good news is that the best scientific information available indicates that goose droppings rarely contain organisms harmful to human health.  A study conducted by the New Jersey Division of Fish and Wildlife concurs with the long standing view of infectious disease experts that the presence of Canada geese is not significant public health issue.  The study is entitled; "A survey to estimate the prevalence of Salmonella, Shigella, Yersinia bacteria and Cryptosporidium, Giardia protozoa in resident Canada geese (Branta canadensis) in New Jersey" and can be found at: http://www.canadageese.org/njgooserpt.pdf

During a Westchester County (NY) Symposium on Canada Geese in 1999, Frank Guido, Principal Sanitarian, Westchester County Department of Health, reported that despite the frequency with which concerns are raised and allegations made, Canada geese do not pose a health risk to the public.

Simply put, there are virtually no conclusive studies that point to Canada geese being a significant health threat to humans.  Reports maligning geese are greatly blown out of proportion.

The Wildlife Management division of the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection (The Division of Fish and Wildlife) is perhaps New Jersey’s most secretive agency.  Unbeknownst to the public, the NJDFW is involved in expanding local waterfowl populations for recreational hunting, despite putting on the façade that they are trying to reduce the population of these birds.  The NJDFW is the source of the conflict between people and geese, and they should be held accountable for any measures that are taken to resolve such conflicts.

Wildlife Watch promotes a program of “Strategic Feeding” of geese and other waterfowl, which allows children and adults to bond in a positive way with wildlife.  Strategic Feeding is the “win-win” practice of feeding geese in a low-traffic area of the park or parkland.  Strategic Feeding acts in the way an ice-cream man does: it attracts birds to one particular area and away from another.  This leaves much of the area free of goose waste.  Because geese are natural grazers, they will be attracted to areas where there is grass and water, with easy access from one to the other: these areas look like free salad bars to the geese.  It is important to make the feeding area more appetizing to the geese than the other areas of the park.  More than a theory, Strategic Feeding works in practice.  In 1996, the Town of Wesley Hills (Rockland County, NY) implemented such a strategic feeding program with great success.  

We urge Bradley Beach to leave in place the ordinance that permits the feeding of geese and implement a program of Strategic Feeding.  Wildlife Watch will be happy to assist you in starting and maintaining such a program.  We would appreciate it if this letter could be read at the upcoming town council meeting on May 13, 2003. We would also appreciate a reply to our concerns, indicating that you intend on keeping goose feeding legal within the town of Bradley Beach.

Sincerely,

Joe Miele, VP
Wildlife Watch/NJ Regional Office

Cc: Councilman Robert J. Pearsall
Councilwoman Amy T. Speck
Councilman Patrick D'Angelo
Councilman Jeff Quixley

 

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