The Mill Creek MetroParks Board of Commissioners promised Monday to seek public input and try to avoid rounding up and euthanizing geese in the future.
The pledge follows public outcry over its decision to euthanize 238 geese in June without allowing for any public debate on the matter. It stopped short, however, of promising not to use lethal measures again.
“We cannot look back. But I do recognize the sensitivity of the goose roundup. Therefore, moving forward, though I’m not sure if a goose roundup will be needed in the future, what I can promise as executive director is that I recognize the need for citizen involvement ... before something like this happens again,” said Dennis Miller, executive director of Mill Creek MetroParks, at a board meeting.
“Mill Creek MetroParks will continue our nonlethal goose-management practices, and I hope to avoid anything like this in the future,” he added.
The park administration has faced backlash from the public after the roundup and euthanization of 238 geese and goslings from the Lily Pond, Lake Glacier and the Newport Wetlands on June 26. The euthanization was conducted by the U.S. Department of Agriculture, with the approval of the Ohio Department of Natural Resources, after the administration applied to the ODNR for the required permit. The measure, which was the first lethal one taken by the park, was conducted without a board resolution, formal study or public hearings.
Despite Miller’s statement, members of the public spoke out against the board’s actions at Monday’s meeting, the second board meeting since the roundup.
“It’s going to take more than just a couple sentences to calm this problem down and solve it,” said Celeste Sinistro. “The actions of the director, commissioners and employees who planned and participated in the geese slaughter — the unnecessary, inhumane killing of endangered, protected wildlife — reflects a misuse of power, lack of understanding of the natural park and the community, and a failure to protect the park and its inhabitants.”
Sinistro was joined by numerous other members of Save the Wildlife in Mill Creek Park, a group created after the roundup.
The board also heard from a representative of the Humane Society of the United States.
“We want to be a resource for you. We want to work with you. We want to help you,” said Corey Roscoe, Ohio state director for the Humane Society. “HSUS is willing to work with you, and help you provide nonlethal measures, whether that means a training course, or bringing in resources or our experts to work with your experts — however we can get the job done.”
MetroParks Police Chief James Willock said a zero-tolerance policy for feeding the wildlife was implemented the day after the roundup in an effort to crack down on people feeding the geese, and that five citations have been issued thus far.