Geese singled out in town ban


The state says droppings from large Canada geese populations could hurt the environment, and so the town was forced to enact a law, carrying a $50 fine per violation, against feeding the birds.

Forget about that proposed ban on feeding all waterfowl in Riverhead Town — and the possible $250 fines for violators.

The Town Board has decided it will only ban feeding geese, with fines only up to $50. The original proposal applied to white ducks, barnyard geese, Muscovy ducks, seagulls, swans, geese and other forms of both domestic and migratory wildfowl.

The Town Board adopted the revised goose-feeding ban at its formal meeting Tuesday night at George C. Young Community Center in Jamesport.

The board held a hearing on the wider ban July 20, during which assistant town engineer Christine Fetten said federal regulations required the town to adopt the policy because feeding birds interrupts their migratory instincts, so they stay here longer — which means more of their waste in local waterways.

Deputy town attorney Dan McCormick said the required ban was a condition of the town’s 2003 stormwater management permit from the state, otherwise, the town could face fines of up to $3,700 per day.

But Town Board members said the state’s conditions for the permit apply only to Canada geese.

“If that’s what they limited it to, I don’t want to make [the ban] any broader than it has to be,” said Supervisor Sean Walter, who opposed the measure from the start.

Ms. Fetten noted that if people feed swans or ducks, geese might also eat the food.

The only dissenting vote came from Councilwoman Jodi Giglio. “I have a problem with limiting people’s liberties, that’s not what government was established for,” Ms. Giglio said Thursday. “And we’d be adopting legislation that we have no intentions of enforcing. I don’t think the police are going to give a 4-year-old girl a fine for feeding geese.”

The other four members voted in favor of the ban.

“I wish this went further,” said Councilman Jim Wooten. “This does damage and hurts our geese.”

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