After a special meeting Wednesday morning, Saranac Lake Central School District officials decided to stick with a plan to euthanize a flock of geese on the school's property.
The meeting was convened in the wake of intensified criticism last week from community members as well as a letter of condemnation from the New York State Humane society.
The district was also singled out by the Humane Society of the United States.
School board members voted in May to hire federal wildlife biologist Mark Carrara to round up and exterminate the geese. Officials said they've tried a variety of non-lethal strategies to prevent the birds from defecating on its athletic fields.
Coaches, athletes and parents have demanded a solution, pointing out that the feces are a potential health hazard.
On Wednesday, some board members questioned whether the extermination plan would be cost effective, since very few geese have been spotted on school property over the last few weeks.
Debra Lennon is president of the school board.
"[Carrara] is going to say, 'you told me to come round up the geese that are here,' and he's going to come onto our field and round up six geese," Lennon said.
Regardless of the number of geese biologists capture, the school would have to pay a basic fee of $2,500. Lennon said it wouldn't be worth it to net just a few birds.
She also questioned euthanization as a viable long-term strategy.
"I'm not willing to use round up and euthanization as a method of goose control on this campus forever," Lennon said. "Let me tell you, next year there better be some good [non-lethal alternatives] in place, because I will never vote to do this again."
Gerald Goldman is the superintendent of the school district. He debunked concerns that biologists would show up to round up a paltry number of birds, pointing out that they have been carefully monitoring their numbers.
"[Carrara] is not looking to come down here and make a fool of himself and us and round up two geese," Gerry said. "I think what he will say to us is 'the geese aren't there, and I told you they might not be there."
If biologists are going to target the flock this year, they will need to act soon. The birds must be captured while they're molting and unable to fly, a condition that lasts only a few weeks in early summer.
Goldman said the decision to move forward is a judgment call that the wildlife biologist is capable of making.
"My [initial] thought was that if this is going to work lets go ahead and do this PDQ (pretty darn quick)," Goldman said. "My position still is, it still might work, tomorrow or the next day we could find 15 or 20 geese wandering around in our fields. I'm not going to speculate on that because I'm not a wildlife biologist."
About a dozen community members attended the 8 a.m. meeting, but members of the public weren't permitted to comment.
Saranac Lake resident Jan Plumadore was among those attending the meeting. Plumadore has backed the school's decision to eradicate the nuisance flock of geese. But he acknowledged in an interview after the meeting that the current plan might not work.
"The situation cries out for a cooperative solution among all the municipalities and adjacent property owners," Plumadore said. "But it doesn't sound like there's one in place right now."
Lennon also confirmed after the meeting that she would consider another goose roundup if it were a community-wide effort.