Council approves contract for goose egg addling

WEST ORANGE, NJ — The West Orange Township Council approved a resolution at its March 3 meeting that allows the township to enter into a contract agreement with Goose Control Technology for the rest of 2020 at a cost of $3,000. The contract will allow the company to addle goose eggs to control the large Canada goose populations found in town, especially in Degnan Park and at the Oskar Schindler Performing Arts Center. The resolution was approved with a vote of 4–1; Councilman Joe Krakoviak cast the opposing vote.

“I think we should be saving the money and just having a volunteer group that does it,” Krakoviak said at the meeting. “There’s lots of other municipalities in the county that do it purely with volunteers.”

West Orange resident Khabirah Myers asked the council not to approve the contract, because she had concerns about the process.

“I was recently on the website of our state’s Division of Fish and Wildlife and I read information entitled ‘2019 Migratory Bird Season Information and Population Status,’” Myers said at the meeting. “What struck me about that information was this language: ‘After a period of population stability, dating back to the early 2000s, the breeding population has declined for the past three consecutive years, culminating in an 18-year low of 112,000 breeding pairs in 2018. Poor gosling production due to chronic late arctic springs appears to be driving the population decline.’”

Myers said, in light of the lower goose population, she didn’t think the contract was needed.

“Why is this contract necessary given the statistics that I just mentioned?” she said. “More important, why is the removal and disposal language necessary given the decline in breeding which I just mentioned?”

She also asked that the removal techniques not be lethal to the geese.

“I think, given the decline, there are more nonlethal methods that could be utilized to control the goose population here in the township,” Myers said.

Business Administrator Jack Sayers said the geese are not killed in the process. The eggs are addled, which is a wildlife management method that takes a goose egg out of the nest, disrupts embryo growth and then places it back later. Returning the egg to the nest misleads the goose into thinking the egg’s embryo is still developing, so the goose won’t lay again.

“It’s always been an issue, not just by the high school but with the residents who live in that neighborhood,” Sayers said at the meeting. “That’s why we continue to do it. We don’t kill the geese, we remove them. That’s what we’ve been doing for years, because the neighborhood doesn’t want them running around.”

Krakoviak pointed out that addling the eggs is the most humane way to deal with the geese.

“The contract is to addle the eggs, which is considered to be, I know it’s ironic to call it humanitarian, but it’s the most humanitarian way to control the population,” he said, pointing out that there are two types of Canada geese; one breed migrates and the other does not. The nonmigratory geese are the ones that are found in West Orange.

“That’s the population that this contract targets,” Krakoviak said. “Separately, you have migratory geese that come through during a more limited migration period and just blanket certain areas in town that have bodies of water. You have a situation here where our contract is for the resident geese and, according to all these statistics that we keep, that population has been kept relatively low. The problem is when the migratory geese come here, we’ve got bodies of water that they love, and you get literally thousands of geese messing up the area. There’s not an easy way to address that.”

Council President Michelle Casalino said the goose population has been a problem in town for a long time.

“It’s an issue,” she said. “It’s not that we’re not animal friendly; it’s not that we don’t look at it every year. It’s been a problem for years.”