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Open Season On Canada Geese in Massachusetts Town

October 20, 1986

GARDNER, Mass. (AP) _ A shotgun blast over Crystal Lake marked open season on the flock of Canada geese accused of fouling the city water supply, but the targets paddled out of range unscathed, officials said.

The first shot rang out at 6:52 a.m., not long after the geese appeared, and there were no immediate casualties, said Daniel Lemerise, district supervisor for the state Fish and Game department’s enforcement arm.

He said three cars of hunters were at the lake waiting for the geese when they flew in shortly after sunrise. The two-week state waterfowl season began a half-hour before sunrise, with a limit of three geese per day per hunter.

The lake, which reaches into Gardner’s center, was opened to unrestricted hunting last week at the urging of city Health Agent Joseph N. Ares, and over the protests of the Massachusetts Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals.

Several humane society representatives watched this morning’s hunt from shore and on a boat. The hunters were being kept from populated areas around the lake, Lemerise said.

Gardner officials decided that the more than 100 geese that inhabit the lake, one of the city’s main sources of drinking water, must go because of fears they are contaminating the water.

But Pamela Mongeau, assistant director of the state humane society, said ″Canada geese are not life-threatening, disease-carrying animals like city rats.″

″This isn’t hunting. These geese are tame,″ said Alan Dernalowicz, a hunter who agreed with the humane society. ″They’ve been around here for four or five years.″

The city’s previous efforts to evict the geese met with little sucess.

An ordinance against feeding the birds at the lake was passed in September, but the geese went to a nearby college campus for lunch.

The birds also weren’t scared a bit by firecrackers the wildlife department set off to get them moving.

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