GETZVILLE, NY- With this region's drought drying up area streams and creeks, the DEC says flocks of geese are finding their way to neighborhood retention ponds in search of fresh water and grass, ruffling the feathers of Western New Yorkers along the way.
"The last two days I've picked up 10 pounds of droppings so my dog won't eat them," said Sheryl Silverberg of Getzville.
"I have grandkids that can't come and play in the yard anymore because they're afraid they'll step in it. It's very unhealthy," said her neighbor, Theresa Szefel.
They live on a pond that they say has been swarming with flocks of unruly geese.
"We've put up a low fence. They said if you put that up and let the grass grow, they won't come through. Nothing has stopped them," Silverberg said.
"It's now an expense. We've had to have extra spraying just to get rid of them and there's no guarantees," added Szefel.
The NYS DEC is well aware of the problem and has recently fielded many calls about large flocks of geese in residential neighborhoods.
Wildlife Biologist Connie Adams says those neighborhoods are where the geese can find lush green grass to eat in this drought. Instead of appearing only in the spring and the fall, 250,000 geese have established residency in the state. The target population is 85,000.
While residents do need permits to destroy their nests and hunt the geese they don't need permits to drive them off their property.
"They may herd them, scare them using dogs or pyrotechnics or bird screamers," said Adams.
Residents can go a step further and pay to have the USDA Wildlife Services remove them and donate the meat to area food banks. Municipalities that apply early can get federal funding for that program.
"The USDA Wildlife Services told me this morning that they spent a month out in WNY removing birds," said Adams.
Homeowners like Silverberg and Szefel say the geese have got to go, and they can't do it themselves.
"I just think the towns should get more involved and do something because it's a huge problem all across the area," said Silverberg.
The DEC says no single technique is universally effective for getting rid of geese, but being persistent and using a combination of methods is usually necessary. The first step however should always be to stop feeding the geese and goslings.
See more geese removal advice from the DEC by clicking the PDF article to the left.
USDA APHIS Wildlife Services: 1930 Route 9, Castleton, NY 12033, (518) 477-4837
For additional information about the NYS General Depredation Permit (GDP), reporting requirements, or individual state permits, contact NYSDEC Game Management Section, 625 Broadway, Albany, NY 12233, phone (518) 402-8883 or the DEC's web site.