Cities in­creas­ingly deal­ing with messy goose drop­pings

Daily Freeman (Kingston, NY) - - LOCAL NEWS - By Mark Pratt

Canada geese are loud, ag­gres­sive and an­noy­ing, but worst of all they poop ev­ery­where — a messy prob­lem vex­ing cities across the coun­try try­ing to keep their parks clean and safe.

“Geese and their waste ruin youth sports and pic­nics, make it un­pleas­ant for the el­derly who like to walk in the parks, and the waste gets all over dogs’ paws,” said An­nissa Es­saibi Ge­orge, a Bos­ton city coun­cilor who this week in­tro­duced a mea­sure to drive the messy pests from the city’s parks, play­grounds, ball­fields, golf cour­ses and wa­ter­ways.

The poop can make hu­mans sick and pol­lute wa­ter­ways, said the first-term coun­cilor, a mother of four whose fam­ily trips to the park have been ru­ined by goose poop. Com­mu­ni­ties large and small across the na­tion are deal­ing with the goose prob­lem, said Paul Cur­tis, an as­so­ci­ate pro­fes­sor of wildlife science and man­age­ment at Cor­nell Univer­sity. The Na­tional Park Ser­vice last year hired a con­trac­tor to keep Canada geese off the Na­tional Mall. The city of Ithaca, New York, home of Cor­nell, last year launched a goose con­trol project, he said.

The geese caus­ing the prob­lems were thought to be near ex­tinc­tion not so long ago, so they were pro­tected, and the pop­u­la­tion grew vir­tu­ally unchecked, said Cur­tis, who spe­cial­izes in hu­man/an­i­mal con­flict.

“We sort of brought this on our­selves,” he said.

They are not the mi­gra­tory geese seen fly­ing south in a V-for­ma­tion ev­ery fall.

The geese that force peo­ple to keep their eyes on the ground and dance around lit­tle cylin­ders of poop are called res­i­dent geese. They stay year-round, tend to be big­ger than mi­gra­tory geese, live longer and have more young. They eat grass vo­ra­ciously, and each adult can pro­duce a pound or more of fe­ces per day, Cur­tis said.

They have few preda­tors and are not hunted as much as mi­gra­tory geese be­cause they tend to gather in ur­ban ar­eas. An­drew Hel­ger, owner of Ar­ling­ton, Mas­sachusetts-based South­ern New Eng­land Goose Pa­trol, is on the front lines of the goose prob­lem.

He and his two bor­der col­lies have been hired by towns, busi­ness parks, apart­ment com­plexes and golf cour­ses to get rid of geese. The col­lies, us­ing their herd­ing in­stincts, scare the birds away but don’t harm them.

“I’ve been do­ing this seven or eight years now, and ev­ery year it gets worse,” Hel­ger said.

Es­saibi Ge­orge’s mea­sure will be dis­cussed at a fu­ture meet­ing of the City Coun­cil’s Com­mit­tee on Parks and Re­cre­ation, where ex­perts and mem­bers of the pub­lic will get a chance to speak.

She said all hu­mane op­tions are on the ta­ble. That could in­clude the use of dogs, bright lights and noise­mak­ers, re­lo­ca­tion or egg ster­il­iza­tion. The city parks depart­ment al­ready uses an egg ster­il­iza­tion pro­gram, but it’s ap­par­ently not enough.

“Our park sys­tem is im­por­tant to me,” Es­saibi Ge­orge said. “We in­vest $250 mil­lion a year in our parks. I want to pro­tect that in­vest­ment.”


This May 29, 2012 pho­to­graph shows a woman eat­ing her lunch while sur­rounded by a gag­gle of Canada geese feed­ing along the banks of the Charles River in Cam­bridge, Mass.

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