By ERIN ROLL
Montclair wants to tell the Canada geese to “light out” of the park this spring.
The township has invested in a set of amber lights, as part of a pilot project to deter geese from building nests in Edgemont Park when nesting season begins in March.
The purchase was announced during the Feb. 19 township council meeting.
The township ordered the lights from Away With Geese, a company that specializes in products to repel Canada geese, said Katya Wowk, the township communications officer. The order includes four lights for the shore of the pond, and four cages to protect the lights, and two backup lights in case any of the lights needed to be replaced. The township also bought three additional lights to place into the pond. The total cost was $4,487, Wowk said, and the township plans to install the lights before the start of nesting season in early March, weather permitting.
According to Away with Geese’s website, the industrial-grade light, which is designed for public areas such as parks and athletic fields, sells for $377 each. The industrial-grade light comes with a steel augur that hooks the light into the ground, making it more difficult to steal.
At the Feb. 19 township council meeting, Township Manager Tim Stafford said the township had asked for expedited shipping for the lights, so that they would arrive in time for the start of nesting season.
“For whatever reason the geese don’t like it, so they won’t nest there,” Mayor Robert Jackson said of the lights.
The strobe lights are annoying to geese at night and therefore deter the geese from taking up residence. Geese may graze during the day, but won’t become overnight guests.
First Ward Councilor Bill Hurlock asked that he and Second Ward Councilor Robin Schlager be included on any discussions about the goose lights, since their wards contained the parks that the geese tended to congregate in. Hurlock also claimed that this was the first he’d heard about a goose light project. He joked that he hoped the geese wouldn’t all now be heading to Yanticaw for nesting.
Canada geese have been long regarded as a nuisance in Montclair’s parks, especially their goose droppings left on sidewalks and play spaces.
Geese are attracted to areas that have large, safe bodies of water, such as the pond in Edgemont Park.
In 2018, the township spent $9,000 on goose control methods in Montclair’s parks.
The township has explored other non-lethal methods of repelling geese in Edgemont Park, including hiring Geese Chasers: a company that brings in trained border collies to chase geese out of the park. Another method in use in Montclair for the past 10 years is egg addling. The eggs are coated with oil to prevent them from hatching.
“I think it’s great that the township is implementing a humane, and what appears to be a successful approach to address the discomfort with geese droppings,” Suzanne Aptman of the Montclair Environmental Commission told Montclair Local. Aptman saw other methods, including egg addling and using dogs to chase the geese, as ineffective and potentially harmful to the geese. The Montclair Environmental Commission has been asking the township to look into humane methods of deterring geese that did not harass the birds.
“It should also allow for some migrating geese to still visit our park so we can appreciate the diversity of wildlife in our town,” she said.
Community affairs director Steve Woods said Wednesday afternoon that in addition to the lights, the township would be continuing with the use of border collies for early morning and daylight hazing, and with seasonal egg addling.
The township has conducted two geese roundups, one in 2007, and another in 2018. Each roundup resulted in the capture of 25 geese.
Under state wildlife laws, captured geese must be humanely euthanized for two reasons: to prevent the geese from returning to where they were captured from, and relocating the geese could spread diseases, such as avian influenza, to other birds and wildlife.