Animal Activists Upset Over USDA Contract to Control Toms River Geese Population

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TOMS RIVER, NJ – The Toms River Township Council has signed a new contract with the USDA to manage the township’s wild geese population, and once again, the Animal Rights League is asking the township to consider other non-lethal options.

On January 13th, of this year, Craig Ambrosio, head of the township’s code enforcement department, signed a two-year contract with the USDA to manage the population of the birds throughout town.

“The geese are going to be gassed alive all throughout Toms River and not necessarily Huddy Park,” said Nicholas Huss of the New Jersey Animal Protection League. “You’re going to kill these beautiful and sentient animals during their molt when the geese cannot fly.”

During the molting season, the geese shed their feathers to grow new, stronger feathers for their fall migration.

Huss said the township has been unresponsive to his communication attempts with them regarding the mass killing of the geese.

“The round-up by the USDA occurs in the middle of the night at the end of June and September and October,” Huss said.

In 2012, the late Ocean County Freeholder John Bartlett ceased the annual culling of the birds at the county level.

Huss told the township that there are other alternatives to deter the geese from congregating in Township parks and that killing them is unnecessary.

Toms River Councilman Matt Lotano rebuked Huss’ claim saying he has met with the Animal Protection League and the township has already tried all of the recommended non-lethal options.

“We have contracted with the USDA for geese control from adding eggs to decrease their desire to be in the locations,” Ambrosio said. “We left that in the federal control to do with it as they see fit. We did not sign a contract to do anything with the geese.”

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Ambrosio said no geese were killed in the past two years.

Lotano said at this time, the deterrent program seems to be working but said sports teams are constantly complaining about goose ‘poop’.

Ambrosio said one of the problems in Toms River is that many of the geese have become non-migratory birds.

“We don’t want to put any animals down,” Lotano said. “The contract is working.”

One resident said the goose droppings on the field are also a danger to the kids who use the parks and sports fields related to the feces and bacteria left behind by the geese.

The township reiterated that the contract is not about euthanizing the birds but controlling the population first through non-lethal means such as adding eggs, removing environments that allow them to flourish.

Township engineer Robert Chankalian said the geese fecal matter has also led to beach closures in the past and that it’s an ongoing problem for the township.