Wednesday, October 1, 2008
Help Me Howard: Geese
If wild geese show up on your property, are they yours? A South Florida City says yes and is now fining the association $50 a day for allowing the geese to stay there, but the association argues, "They aren't our geese." Who wins this "fowl" battle? Here is Help me Howard with Patrick Fraser.
WSVN -- They are graceful, they are beautiful, and little do these seven wild animals know their goose is cooked.
Patrick Fraser: "So they want you to kill them?"
The geese showed up in Plantation a couple of years ago. Wildlife officials call them Chinese geese. The geese call this stretch of water home.
Sharmila Mills: "There was this guy who swam across the river, and they were attacking him, running behind him making so much noise, the guy turned around and swam back the other way."
Patrick Fraser: "So they're guard geese."
The homeowners here at Village Square Condos don't mind the geese on their side of the canal, but across the water, another condo group can't stand them.
Sharmila Mills: "I think it was someone from the association of Omega, complains to the city that the geese were making noise."
So Plantation Code Enforcement told Village Square the geese violated the noise ordinance and had to go.
Patrick Fraser: "Remove them, or they are going to do what?"
Sharmila Mills: "They are going to cite us $500 for the first violation. It is $250 if we don't remove them by a certain date. Then they would fine us $500 per day."
Village Square contacted the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission in this letter. They told them you can catch the geese, but you can't let them go.
Sharmila Mills: "The Wildlife said that if we release them into the wild it is a violation, and we could be prosecuted, which they are already in the wild."
Plantation suggested the birds be trapped and caged at an educational facility, but animal experts say wild geese put in a pen for the public to watch could kill or hurt themselves trying to escape.
Sharmila Mills: "If they want to come take them, I don't mind somebody taking them, but don't harm them. Put them somewhere. Let them stay on the river, but don't harm them."
The only other solution, let someone catch them and kill them, and Sharmila is adamantly opposed to that.
Sharmila Mills: "Let them stay on the river, but don't harm them."
But the city says they are noisy, and they have to go.
So, Howard, who wins this fowl battle?
Howard Finkelstein: "The city's law does not make the geese yours simply because they show up on your property, but if you take any act to protect them, shelter them or feed them, they are yours, and in this case, you are responsible for removing them."
When we spoke to Plantation they sent us this picture taken from across the canal of a man on the Village Square property. They believe he is feeding the geese, and they say that makes the geese the condo's property. As of today, the association has been fined $2,900 for not removing the geese.
A few days ago, four of the geese disappeared. The association is not certain what happened to them. Three others are still here, meaning the fines from the city are still adding up, as their days here near an end.
Howard Finkelstein: "The state does not protect Chinese geese because they are not native to North America. They are treated as livestock, just like chickens, and because the city says they are noisy, they have to be removed."
Sad for Sharmila, who says the geese are not the problem here.
Patrick Fraser: "What's the bigger nuisance, the geese, or your neighbors over there?"
Sharmila Mills: "The neighbors. Because the geese only do that for defense mechanism, but people know better, they have a brain, they can tell right from wrong."
The association has called trappers, but they say they can't get anyone to come grab the last three geese, and the association argues this should not be their problem, that the geese swim up and down the canal. The city says the picture shot from across the canal makes them your geese.
A foul situation stinking up your life? Tired of the trouble flocking to you? Contact us. We can't fly worth a flip, but we will walk in with some legal advice.
FOR MORE INFORMATION:
EMAIL: firstname.lastname@example.org (please include your contact number when emailing)