Woman's plea to have police stop shooting geese in park turned down by supervisors
Gail Maholick/TIMES NEWS A lone plastic swan floats in the middle of a pond at the Phifer Ice Dam Park. Whether the lone swan is keeping the geese away or whether it's because of the Franklin Township Police Department's efforts is up for discussion.
A Franklin Township woman's plea to have Franklin Township police stop shooting Canada geese at the Phifer Ice Dam Pond went unheeded on Tuesday night despite her promise to report the situation to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Services, who granted the federal permit to eliminate nuisance geese at the park.
Debra DeHauski Whiteman pleaded with Franklin Township supervisors that other measures need to be used first before police shoot more geese at the park.
Whiteman owns property adjacent to the park and said she has seen the police walk up to a goose and point blank shoot them while she is enjoying her breakfast in her gazebo overlooking the park. She said it is disconcerting to see such violence in the park.
Whiteman said that few geese are at the park and said she wondered if the police are initiating a "zero" policy.
This was Whiteman's second time to speak at a public meeting. She was also at the April township supervisors meeting to address the issue of police shooting the geese at the park.
Whiteman said that she could understand the policy of shooting geese in the park if the park were overrun, but she said that is not the case.
After Whiteman wrote a letter last month, supervisors purchased two white plastic swans and anchored each one in two separate ponds. There are three ponds in all at the Phifer Ice Dam Park. The cost was approximately $40 per swan.
She said the swans are the geese natural enemies. She said that since they were put in the ponds, there are ever fewer geese than before and those few geese that do land, stay to feed and drink and move on within in an hour.
She also brought up the issue that according to the copy of the federal permit she held in her hand, that harassment and other non lethal ways to discourage geese were supposed to be used first and shooting would be permitted only when all other methods failed. She noted that police were in direct violation of the federally issued permit and that she planned to report it to authorities. She said, while looking at the permit, she asked just who was listed as being permitted to shoot the geese, and gave the name of a civilian who was doing the actual shooting. She said that the permit required that the person shooting be a township employee. She asked whether the name of the civilian was listed on the permit and whether he was a township employee.
She also noted that the plastic swans that the township did purchase were not put in the ponds in pairs as they are in nature and that they are so tightly anchored that they do not look natural, which would further discourage geese from landing.
Chairman Rod Green said that he had spent enough township resources on using non lethal methods and that no more township money was going to be spent on plastic geese or on any other measures.
In support of the township's efforts, Wayne Wentz, former president of the Franklin Township Athletic Association spoke in support of the police's efforts to eliminate geese from the park. Wentz noted that the park is for recreation for people and is not a wildlife sanctuary.
Wentz presented a letter signed by 36 individuals. The signatures do not have addresses or printed names and some names are difficult to read.
Also speaking in support of the township's efforts to eliminate the geese was David Hawk, president of the Franklin Township Lions Club. He presented a letter with the signature of the Franklin Township Lions Club. The letter supports the actions taken by the police department. The letter notes that the action was taken to shoot geese after all else failed to eliminate the problem.
Terry Whiteman, who is Debra's husband, said that the letter from the Franklin Township Lions Club was never introduced to him and he is a member of the Franklin Township Lions Club and he was not in favor of sending it. Terry Whiteman also questioned whether it was in the township's best financial interest to have police spending so much time at the park to shoot geese. Whiteman said that when the police are at the park, the police officer is usually accompanied by a township employee. He noted that there are other expenses to consider in addition to paying their salaries, such as costs for employee benefits, workmen's comp and such and that it is actually an expensive proposition for police to be doing "goose" patrol and spending so much time at the park shooting defenseless geese when there are so many more serious police issues they could be handling.
Green was adamant that the issue was closed to further spending of any other township funds to use non lethal methods to rid the park of Canada geese.