Fierce, stealthy, and remote-controlled—no, we’re not talking unmanned predator drones—we’re talking about the “Goosinator.” At three and a half feet long and costing nearly $3,000, the battery-powered behemoth is Westchester County Parks’ latest weapon in the arms race against ever-growing geese populations.
“We’re always looking for alternative solutions,” says Westchester Parks Deputy Commissioner Peter Tartaglia, who spends much of his department’s $47.5 million annual budget on wildlife management. “There’s a little bit of a learning curve to using the Goosinator, but it seems to be working along with traditional techniques.”
Randy Claussen, lead designer of the Goosinator, says his invention avoids the blood, cost, and “nightmare” effort required to manually ward off wild animals, clean up feces, and maintain greens. The Village of Scarsdale, for one, doled out more than $5,000 this year to euthanize geese lurking around the local library pond. Claussen estimates traditional deterrence and repairs average more than $5,600 annually.
The leviathan, though, doesn’t kill geese. Instead, it scares them away by snaking back and forth until the gaggle knows better than to return. “We’re not chasing them, but herding and stalking via remote control like a predator,” Claussen explains. “We flank them from one side to the other as they compress themselves into a group.” Since the first Goosinator rolled off the nest in February 2012, the company has sold 35 units to hunt across grass, water, and snow nationwide.
For best results, the Goosinator must hit the prowl repeatedly, not just intermittently. “It’s about changing the geese’s pattern of behavior,” Claussen claims. Dogs trained to pursue geese were previously the industry norm. To exercise and maintain a live tracking canine, however, runs $3,000 to $6,000 per year. And while the Goosinator has 85 to 90 percent of geese on the move in four to six days, your golf course’s Old Yeller requires four to six weeks.
As Jerry Giordano, senior horticultural consultant at Cornell Cooperative Extension’s Westchester office, reminds officials what many gardeners already know, “It’s not always easy.” Alternating stalking patterns and times of attack remain the only ways to ensure the bothersome birds don’t reappear. That way, what’s good for the goose might also be good for the gander.