Manchester’s Geese Problem

The township has entered into a contract with Geese Chasers LLC to rid Harry Wright and Pine lakes of Canada Geese. On a recent afternoon, grown Canada Geese swam and walked around Harry Wright Lake. (Photo by Jennifer Peacock)

MANCHESTER – Officials hope they have found a solution to the township’s Canada geese problem.

The township has entered into an agreement with Geese Chasers LLC, a company with locations in New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania, Delaware and North Carolina, to use border collies to chase away and deter the geese from Harry Wright and Pine lakes.

Mayor Kenneth Palmer said the company will conduct two 12-week sessions with the dogs.

(Photo by Jennifer Peacock)

“By having the dogs chase the birds, the thought is they will become unhappy with the lakes as their landing spots and find somewhere else to go,” Palmer said.

The company will also addle the eggs, meaning they will destroy the developing embryo by suffocation, usually by coating the eggs with corn oil. According to the Humane Society of the United States, eggs must be addled early in development. In Canada geese, that means less than 14 days incubation. Eggs that are hatching, or in which movement or sound is observed, cannot legally be destroyed. Despite the nuisance the birds are, and the seeming abundance of them, Canada geese are a protected species. Addling is almost 100 percent effective in destroying the embryo.

While Pine Lake hasn’t been swimmable in years, Harry Wright Lake offers two beaches and lake swimming for Manchester residents and the general public. That lake was closed for swimming most of the 2016 summer season due to unsafe bacteria levels found by the Ocean County Department of Health.

Pine Lake has been closed for decades. The two reasons, councilman Samuel Fusaro explained, are that forest drainage winds its way into Pine Lake, which brings much sand and other storm water run-off materials that settle in the lake. The second reason, of course, is the Canada geese population, whose abundant droppings feed bacteria into the lake.

The Manchester Times spoke to OCHD Public Information Officer Leslie Terjesen last summer about the closures. “They feel the cause of the bacteria is from non-point sources, meaning there’s not one big polluter in one spot both near the lake and upstream. They haven’t noted anything out of the ordinary at the beach itself. The lake receives water that flows from streams and also the lake spills water into streams and creeks that flow away from it. The probable causes include storm water runoff, domestic animal waste, water fowl waste, specifically geese.”

(Photo by Jennifer Peacock)

Council President Samuel Fusaro, who has spoken on numerous occasions about the health of the lakes, is confident the use of the dogs, coupled with the addling, will help.

“Like many other areas throughout Ocean County, both Pine Lake and Harry Wright Lake have seen a significant increase in the numbers of Canada geese that have essentially settled in and are now nesting at these sites. The geese feed on grass and other vegetation around the lakes, and leave droppings in the grassy areas as well as on the beaches. If left unchecked, the geese droppings can cause increase of fecal material at the water’s edge which in the past has contributed to the closing of both lakes,” Fusaro wrote in an email.

The contract with Geese Chasers, LLC, he said, will have them patrolling the beaches to scatter the geese and disrupt their routines. The nests will also be removed.

“The contractor will patrol the lakes several times a day to ensure the geese driven away from our lakes and keep the waters and surrounding areas clean,” Fusaro said.

The contract costs about $9,756, Palmer said.

Neighboring Lakehurst plans to install orange flashing lights at Lake Horicon to drive away the Canada geese that nest there. Those lights, including installation, will cost about $2,000.