Story by A.J. Arias
For the second month in a row, the Greenwood Lake Commission saw a dramatic spike in meeting attendance as members of the community continue to come to speak about their outrage following a Commission-contracted geese control roundup that took place in June.
The roundup, which was carried out by the United States Department of Agriculture, resulted in the killing of about 200 geese around Greenwood Lake, according to Michele Shenker, one of the members of a committee that has formed in the aftermath of the event.
Jan Dearing and Barbara Aarons join Shenker on the committee, which plans to work with the Commission to find a more a humane way to deal with the geese problem.
Aarons said that while she agrees that there is a geese problem, the killing of the geese has not been a proven means of dealing with the issue. Additionally, she noted that while geese do contribute to the high phosphorus levels in the lake, one of the main reasons for the round up, geese are not the only contributors, citing septic systems, fertilizer, and a longer bloom season.
Another issue the voiced at the meeting was regarding the Commission’s transparency. In the lead up to the roundup, the minutes for the Commission’s meetings from December of 2017 to June of 2018 were not made easily available to the public on the Commission’s website until after the July meeting and after a request from the public.
Other members of the community also showed their support of the committee and voiced their own concerns. One woman gave a graphic testimonial retelling the story of the morning of the round up, when she was going on her daily walk to the beach, where she witnessed USDA officials break the necks of multiple baby geese.
When asked if they would do the round up again after hearing the backlash, Commissioner Eric Hastings answered, “If conditions warranted, I would do it again.”
Hastings noted that the geese are an invasive species and that if they’re not controlled people will get sick
The Commission had looked into other more humane options for dealing with the geese before signing their contract with the USDA. Commissioner Paul Sullivan said that he has tried strobe lights, dogs, and just plain harassing the geese but that all it does is chase the geese from one end of the lake to the other in an endless circle.
Sullivan said that he doesn’t want his grandkids as well as other visitors to get sick from Greenwood Lake, noting that the geese have resulted in ear, eye, and skin infections in humans. He stated that if it’s between his grandkids and the geese, he will pick his family.
The Greenwood Lake Commission will hold their next meeting on Wed., Sept. 26 at 7 p.m. at the West Milford Library, located at 1470 Union Valley Rd. in West Milford, NJ.