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
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
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.
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
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.
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
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.
Charles E. Schumer
United States Senator