Lakehurst Hopes Lights Deter Geese

Signs dot the lake with warnings not to feed wildlife, including Canada geese. The borough wants a crackdown on those who do feed the geese. (Photo by Jennifer Peacock)

LAKEHURST – It’s hard to believe that at one point in the early 20th century, Canada Geese—Branta Canadensis—were a dwindling population protected by law in some regions, reintroduced and encouraged to thrive. That protection was successful, depending on how one defines success.

Lakehurst Borough hopes the geese will see the light and take a hike.

Councilwoman Patricia Hodges received information and a quote from Geese Problem Solved, a company operated by Chet and Sharon Yates in Louisville, Ky., to purchase and install solar powered, 360-degree orange LED lights. The lights flash every two seconds and disrupt the sleep patterns of the geese, who then find another place to settle.

The company suggests an installation pattern based on satellite images of the site — in this case, Lake Horicon – that will best disturb the geese.

Hodges said the lights, a total of five that would be placed on the land and in the water, will cost around $2,000.

The lights should be installed and operate after the hatchlings are mature enough to fly and leave the area. Otherwise, growing up with the lights, the geese will become accustomed to them.

Canada Geese in New Jersey usual start nesting in March and into April. Females can lay up to 10 eggs, but generally lay between four and six. The chicks hatch about a month later, and although they are water bound a mere 24 hours after hatching, can take up to 73 days to fledge, take flight.

The lights do not harm the geese.

Canada Geese at Lake Horicon have left the sandy beach covered in green dropping more than twice the size of a quarter. Some sources said each goose can eat up to four pounds of grass each day, and drop three pounds of bacteria-ridden feces, going about once every 20 minutes.

The droppings affect the lake’s water as well; it was shut down twice last summer, although borough clerk Bernadette Dugan said the lake can close down because of heavy rains and not exclusively from the droppings.

She added that public works cleans the beach at least once a day.

Borough officials said other efforts to curb or eliminate Canada Geese population have failed. Destroying nests only leads the male and female, who mate for life, to make another nest. A female will lay more eggs if she sees hers were wiped out.

Photo by Catherine Galioto

The borough has addled eggs using oil, which stops development of the egg’s embryo before 14 days. The Humane Society of the U.S. said that method is 95 to 100 percent effective when done properly.

Because Canada Geese are protected, destroying eggs requires a permit, which council president Steven Oglesby said the borough possesses.

The borough will likely use this method for curbing the geese problem: oil the eggs, install the lights, move the electronic sign to the lake warning people not to feed the geese, and write tickets to those who do. There are signs dotting the lake that say feeding wildlife is forbidden. Officials said the signs are ignored, so the geese have another reason to stay.

Mayor Harry Robbins, who works for Lakewood Township, said he has spoken to officials from several villages within the township that use the LED lights. They are satisfied with the results, he said.

If Lakehurst goes with the lights, they come with a 180-day money back guarantee.

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Ocean County native Jennifer Peacock is a community journalist and photographer. She’s written for weekly and daily newspapers in New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania and Virginia for more than 20 years. Readers can contact her at [email protected]