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Public hearings should have preceded decision on geese



Published: Sun, July 20, 2014 @ 12:00 a.m.

Is wildlife preservation and wild- life management one and the same thing? That question goes to the heart of the debate now raging in the Mahoning Valley and beyond over the Mill Creek MetroParks’ killing of 238 Canada geese that park officials said had become a health and environmental hazard and a danger to park visitors.

Emotions are running high, as last week’s meeting of the governing body of the urban park showed. No explanations or expressions of regret will appease the vocal opponents of euthanasia as a method of dealing with the problem of geese.

“Dennis, the board and myself are truly saddened by the fact that we had no choice but to euthanize the geese,” said Louis Schiavoni, board chairman. Dennis Miller is MetroParks executive director.

Goose droppings had created unpleasant conditions at Newport Wetlands and ruined newly planted vegetation at the Lily Pond.

In addition, the public’s insistence on feeding the geese, despite signs prohibiting the practice, had led to an explosion of the geese population and aggressive behavior on the part of some of the birds.

Park officials insist the decision to round up and gas the 238 geese was not made lightly and was undertaken with the assistance of the Ohio Department of Natural Resources and the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

There had been other methods employed to try and chase the geese away from the park, to no avail.

As the Letters to the Editor published in The Vindicator on July 4 and July 13 and the comments at last week’s meeting illustrate, critics are unwavering in their belief that a mass killing was unnecessary.

And that prompts the discussion of whether preservation and management are intertwined.

The issue is one that communities around the country and even around the world are being forced to address as human beings encroach on the natural habitat of wildlife.

It’s a discussion that’s worth having and one that the board of commissioners of Mill Creek MetroParks should have facilitated through public meetings prior to a decision being made about how to get rid of the geese.

The park is largely funded through a special countywide levy, which means it is a public entity governed by local, state and federal laws.

Controversial decisions

We aren’t willing to join those residents who portray Miller, the executive director, his staff and others as inhumane, but we would lend our voice to those who say that area residents must be included in decisions that are inherently controversial.

Indeed, had there been public hearings, the board of commissioners may well have heard from the The Humane Society of the United States.

We did — in a letter to the editor from Corey Roscoe, Ohio state director for the society.

Roscoe’s letter published July 4 said, in part, “Other important considerations in providing a long-term and sustainable solution would be to modify the park habitat to make it less attractive to geese and to curb the feeding of geese by the public.

“The Humane Society of the United States has helped communities across the country solve their goose conflicts using humane and effective solutions.”

The park board should seek the advice and guidance of the society.

The killing of the geese has been a public relations disaster for Mill Creek Park.


Comments

1dlflak(1 comment)posted 2 months ago

Research clearly shows that the mass euthanization of geese serves only as a temporary solution.The 238 resident geese that were killed on June 26 in Mill Creek Park will soon be replaced by other geese. When this inevitable repopulation occurs, will the board once again shut the park in the dark early morning hours and blind-side our community by conducting another killing? Wildlife management is not an easy process if done in a humane manner. The board has provided no reliable documentation or data to show the extent in which a humane management program had been implemented within the park prior to the drastic measures taken on June 26. Dennis Miller and the board have proven they have no care, or concern what the tax payers think. The board continually cites the public feeding the geese as a major contributor to the problem yet to what extent are they responsible? The "Do not feed" signs are never enforced yet we have a park police force that basically does nothing. Whether you are for geese or not, all taxpayers should be concerned that the director and board have little to no regard what the community cares about. Words to ponder... new director, new board, vote NO!

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2PCA(1 comment)posted 2 months ago

Good Editorial.

Yes, it is matter of deep concern that 238 geese were cruelly rounded up and gassed from a public park with no community input. Even more disturbing are some of the claims made by park, USDA and ODNR officials. For example, had egg addling (destruction) been conducted at Mill Creek Park, why were there goslings? Either this is a false claim or the action was conducted with incompetence. It was also claimed in an earlier newspaper piece, that only "some" geese would be destroyed. How did "some" become "Whatever is here on day of roundup" as stated by ODNR official, Laura Graber? Such a "whatever" attitude bespeaks extermination rather than "management." Many more questions need to be raised over what really was, a wildlife massacre in a public park. Certainly, the public and media should demand to see the actual contract signed with USDA WS allowing for what appears a wildlife killing spree and uncontained carnage.

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3LucyBK(1 comment)posted 2 months ago

The only "problem" requiring a "solution" in Mill Creek Park is the fat SOB running it, Dennis L. Miller - he is a golfer with NO credentials to manage such a large park system or wildlife. Setting up gas chambers to cruelly murder all those ducks and geese is an unspeakable crime. They suffered terribly trying to breathe, only to choke on carbon dioxide. I cannot imagine the terror they felt. I have a large Pekin duck who is on medications for a lung infection, and we are fighting for his life everyday. Over $2000 in vet bills to date, and we will do whatever it takes to make him healthy again. When I heard about this slaughter, I threw up. REMOVE MILLER - IMPRISON HIM FOR FELONY ANIMAL CRUELTY NOW!

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4borylie(790 comments)posted 2 months ago

LucyBK, Calling Mr. Miller a fat SOB. Do you find yourself attractive? Do you believe communities should allow mosquito spraying? Should fly swatters be outlawed? Shouldn't all of God's creatures be protected?

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5keithp(10 comments)posted 2 months ago

The Ohio Department of Agriculture has the habit of doing things without any real notice. This regulation without notice happened to Ohio wineries about 4 years ago. For information on the unnecessary(wine kills human pathogens), duplicate (of licensing and sanitation in liquor codes), and discriminatory (not applicable to out of state wineries with same liquor permit) regulation of Ohio wineries by the Ohio Department of Agriculture or to take action on Ohio Senate bill 32, please see: www.FreeTheWineries.com or www.facebook.com/FreeTheWineries

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6Silence_Dogood(1342 comments)posted 2 months ago

Peking Duck, now that sounds really good. I bet it would go really well with sweet and sour sauce.

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7makesyathink(40 comments)posted 2 months ago

All you people wishing death or imprisonment of the park staff for doing their job - are you out of your minds? Since when does your uneducated opinion count more than those who have experience and college education backing their decisions? And death? Really? Sad, sad, bunch of people. And you're willing to have the hundreds of thousands of visitors to the park not be able to even use the park at all if the levy fails? Who's going to come in and pay for taking care of the roads, do education, cut grass, clean bathrooms, etc? The city will come back and take it over? And do what with it? Turn it back into the unkept dump that they begged the whole county to take over because they had no funds? Shame on you - wishing all of this hell because of normal wildlife management? Crazy. Yes, the public relations was handled wrong, but the right thing was done for the WHOLE environment of the areas affected.

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8borylie(790 comments)posted 2 months ago

If the wildlife management was put out there for public debate, Mill Creek Park would of been in court for years. Protesters would of marred every visit to the park. Mill Creek Park handled this correctly.

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