By Rick Pezzullo
A newly formed environmental group is crying fowl over ideas floated by city and school officials to limit the Canadian Geese population in Peekskill.
“Some people say I’m for the birds and I am for the birds,” said George Ondek, president of Friends of the Canadian Geese and Birds of the Hudson, during a small protest on the banks of the Hudson River in Riverfront Green Park.
“I think the whole thing is outrageous and very inhumane,” said Barbara Goldberg, who stood side-by-side with Ondek as sea gulls flew overhead and geese waddled nearby.
Ondek said his feathers were ruffled by discussion that took place during a January 26 joint meeting of the Common Council and Board of Education at City Hall where concerns were raised about the abundance of geese droppings at Depew Park and other recreational facilities.
“At Depew Park it’s disgusting,” said Board of Education President Joseph Urbanowicz. “There has to be a program to not allow the population to grow and we have to find a way to get them under control.”
Trained dogs have proven to be somewhat effective in scaring off geese, but they’re also costly, according to acting city manager Brian Havranek. Educating residents about not feeding the birds was also mentioned, along with destroying bird eggs.
“You see people feed them all the time at Depew Park,” said Councilman Andrew Torres. “I’d hate to get to the point where we would have to fine people.”
Ondek, a 23-year resident of Peekskill, vehemently opposed any attempts to disrupt the geese eggs and maintained fining people for doing something many residents enjoy is preposterous.
“Killing the eggs would be like killing a baby,” Ondek remarked. “Next they’ll want to kill the ducks. Canadian Geese and water fowl were here before us. The geese and sea gulls are a treasure to the Peekskill seashore enjoyed by many of the communities, seniors and family residents. In the springtime many families bring their children to the waterfront to see the newborn goslings and enjoy feeding them. It would be wrong to limit these geese when they are part of what draws people to our beautiful waterfront.”
Brendan Nestor, who said he visits the riverfront daily to feed the birds, agreed with Ondek.
“It’s really unbelievable. They have geese all along the Hudson Valley in every town,” Nestor said. “I have more respect for these geese than some of the politicians in this town.”
Havranek said he would talk to the city’s animal control officer about what efforts could be made to control the geese.
“I do think this is something we can jointly work on,” Mayor Mary Foster said.