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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.


1NoBS(2763 comments)posted 1 year, 11 months ago

I don't know that public hearings are/were necessary. Public hearings aren't required to eradicate rats or other vermin. And were there public hearings a few years back, when the deer population was thinned? If there were, I don't recall them. I do recall the lottery as hunters tried to get permission to practice their sport within the park.

In all the hand-wringing and angst over the euthanization of the geese, nobody has been able to come up with a viable alternative. Ideally, the goose population shouldn't have gotten as large as it was. The park tried alternatives, such as requesting the public not feed the geese, but to no avail. This was all that was left. Next time, I hope the park acts sooner, so that less geese have to be euthanized. But there really was no alternative.

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2redeye1(5615 comments)posted 1 year, 11 months ago

I have no problem with them rounding up all of the geese. But I do have a problem on how they killed the geese. They should have found a way to killed them so that they were at least edible. Then maybe gave them to a food kitchen or something like that. It was just a great waste of a natural resource that's all

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3dlflak(1 comment)posted 1 year, 11 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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4PCA(1 comment)posted 1 year, 11 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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5LucyBK(1 comment)posted 1 year, 11 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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6borylie(946 comments)posted 1 year, 11 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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7questionreality(728 comments)posted 1 year, 11 months ago

And if the park police enforced the "Do not feed" signs" they would hear the ubiquitous "Don't u have anything better to do?" Or "shouldn't u be eating donuts?"

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8Silence_Dogood(1670 comments)posted 1 year, 11 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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9NoBS(2763 comments)posted 1 year, 11 months ago

To those who are hanging their hat on the park's not enforcing the DO NOT FEED signs, that's awfully weak. If the park had enforced the signs, there'd be all sorts of ranting about the overzealous cops, the unfairness of it all, and even laments about the poor duckies and goosies who will go to bed hungry because nobody's feeding them.

And to the conspiracy theorist who equates the fact that there were still goslings with the delusion that the park is lying about having addled some of the goose eggs, perhaps you've noticed that geese fly? Geese can nest in places humans have a tough time reaching. And nobody wanted to completely eradicate the geese - they wanted the number of geese reduced, and, having tried all other available methods (I'm still waiting for reasonable suggestions on what else could be done) the park rounded up a herd of geese, but by no means every goose in the area.

You people are letting your emotions run wild. We need more educated people, not more drama queens.

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10republicanRick(1716 comments)posted 1 year, 11 months ago

Anything contoversial should require public hearings? Are you nuts, Vindy editors?

The thinning of the geese was controversial only because it brings out the kooky, fringe element that is bombastic and shrill. By the Vindy's reasoning, ANY decision by public entities could be held up by simply screaming the loudest and longest.

Thin the geese herd, deer, mosqitoes, raccoons, rats and whatever else is needed to keep it a balanced wildlife area. And pass put valium and prozac to the shrill kooky humans.

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11borylie(946 comments)posted 1 year, 11 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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12Education_Voter(1167 comments)posted 1 year, 11 months ago

I agree with the last two commentors. Shame on the Vindicator for continuing coverage of this non-story. It is just a blatant attempt to gain new readers, even temporarily.
A protestor for the geese misuses the word "carnage" above, a particularly grating mistake given the actual carnage that has taken place this week in the Ukraine and Palestine.
Surely, animal activists would not stand for egg addling, except that they have no other answer to culling the overpopulation of geese. A possible reason that all newly laid eggs had not been found is that the geese nested in adjacent property outside of the park.
An effective egg addling program would have to include a notification of hundreds (thousands) of the neighbors that workers would be looking for nests -- and permission to look on property. There are no easy answers, as other communities battling the Canada goose population have discovered.

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