Canada Goose Langford Parka Dublin
Canada Geese and seagulls feed on the lush lawns near Lake Merritt. In the background is 86 year old Alexander Guden who feeds the birds bread every day.The City of Oakland wants Canada Geese to go back to Canada at least for part of the year. Several thousands of the geese have become fulltime residents, leaving their poop all over the place. But the problem is that the birds are protected by the Migratory Bird Act. Even if Oakland gets approval to chase away those unwanted Canada Geese, there is the risk of distrupting other migratory birds that stay at Lake Merritt, the nation's oldest wildlife refuge.Event in Oakland, CAPhoto by Michael Maloney / The San Francisco Chronicle Ran on: 01 16 2006Canada geese and gulls feed on the lush lawns near Lake Merritt. Alexander Guden, 86, sits on the bench in the background. Ran on: 01 16 2006Bob Ney Ran on: 01 16 2006Bob Ney MANDATORY CREDIT FOR PHOTOG AND SF CHRONICLE/ MAGS OUT lessCanada Geese and seagulls feed on the lush lawns near Lake Merritt. In the background is 86 year old Alexander Guden who feeds the birds bread every day.The City of Oakland wants Canada . moreAh, the lovely Canada goose. That symbol of grace, flight, freedom . and feces?Stroll around any local lake, golf course or pond and that's what you'll find. Dodging the plethora of fist sized goose poop is like tip toeing across a mine field. Not surprising, since a single goose can produce up to 3 pounds of droppings (urine and excrement combined) per day. Multiply that times an average community of dozens of geese and you've got one gaggle of a conundrum.One that is plaguing communities. Worries abound over disease transmission from fecal material or contaminated water. And the irony is, they were invited."We've created goose nirvana," says Maggie Brasted, director of Urban Wildlife Conflict Resolution with The Humane Society of the United States. "We build a typical suburban homeowners park with great habitats like retention ponds and golf courses. We mow and fertilize the grass, which they love. The grass is near water, which they like because that's how they escape from predators. (Years ago) we introduced them to this perfect habitat and not only did they stay, but they reproduced and never learned to migrate. Now we're annoyed with them."Brasted is referring to a 1960s initiative to save the vanishing breed. When the migrating goose population started thinning out due to excessive hunting, egg harvesting and habitat loss, there was a concern that they might become extinct. Bureau of Canada Goose Langford Parka Dublin Sport Fisheries and Wildlife hatched a plan: They would capture geese, incubate eggs and re establish the goslings in natural habitats. But staff also introduced the birds to areas where geese were not normally found and this presented a problem (which anyone who has seen the movie "Fly Away Home" might already guess): If goslings aren't raised by their parents or flock, they don't know how to migrate. Why should they anyway, what with all this tasty, freshly mowed grass? And so they stayed. And reproduced. And pooped."It's an issue that's been building for the past 20 years, mainly in the upper Midwest," Brasted advises. "But it's fairly new in California, which is good because there has been time to develop better solutions."By that, she means humane solutions. Previous attempts to eradicate geese have included rounding them up in specially designed trucks and gassing them to death. This is how Seattle addressed the problem in the early 2000s. Department of Agriculture."Communities and property owners were putting them in poultry crates to ship to a slaughter house or gas in a chamber," Brasted says. "Basically, geese were being killed for pooping on the grass, which seems rather excessive."A more humane option might be rounding up the geese and relocating them, as Incline Village (Lake Tahoe) tried in past years. Staff from the Nevada Division of Wildlife tagged and relocated almost 137 geese to an area outside the Tahoe basin. However, almost 30 percent of the birds returned.Experts agree the best way to discourage resident Canada geese requires an integrated program that reduces the attractive habitat, limits flock growth and modifies goose behavior. This can be accomplished through a combination of nonlethal, cost effective and long term solutions. Harassment techniques include loud firecrackers and pyrotechnics (whistles, screamers and bangers). Laser beams used from sunset through dawn are effective in discouraging night roosts. There are scare techniques, such as recorded bird distress calls that warn other geese of danger, flying eagle kites tethered to poles, and windmills with ultraviolet reflecting paint on the blades. Nontoxic chemicals and repellent sprays make the lawn taste lousy or give the birds an upset stomach. Brasted points out that geese are intelligent creatures that remember what they learn. "When you eat at a bad restaurant, you won't return," she says. "Neither will they."In the United States, the current geese population is estimated at 3.34 million and has increased 1.14 percent every year for the last six years. This makes egg "addling" or "oiling" another viable solution. Addling (coating the eggs with oil) prevents the development and hatching of the egg because air can't pass through the shell. It is preferable to removing the eggs, since the goose will simply lay more. Fish and Wildlife Service eliminate that need. Instead, property owners must register their properties prior to addling and report completed addling afterward."Addling can't be done too close to hatch, otherwise the embryo will suffocate," says Brasted, noting it is a safe procedure up to 14 days of incubation. "First you have to convince the geese to get off the nest. They're good parents and will defend their nest. You coat the eggs thoroughly and put them back. The geese don't know that anything is wrong and will go back to nesting for approximately 28 days. Around that time, when the eggs don't hatch, they'll give up and leave."By far, the most effective, albeit costly, solution is the use of service dogs. This is what Kevin Miller, director of Parks and Recreation in Foster City, is now employing after other attempts failed."For three years we tried methods such as goose repellent, staff moving geese and noisemakers," he said. "It didn't matter. The geese would just go somewhere else to eat, then return to defecate on the sidewalk."Miller found he was spending almost $30,000 a year and utilizing up to four park maintenance staff just for cleanup. In addition, there was the added stress of trying to explain to angry parents why their children were being exposed to bacteria laden feces. Frustrated, he turned to Henry Losee, a Hayward resident who operates a goose dog service with his five pet border collies. Three times a week, the dogs donned their red vests and barked, herded and chased after, but never caught, the geese. Their presence alone was enough to scare the birds, which instinctively recognize dogs as predators. But when funding for the canine service ran dry, the geese soon returned."Our approved budget this year includes the dogs, so we've brought them back," Miller said. He praised the service, citing it as very effective. Fish and Wildlife Service regulations that went into effect Sept. 11. "They're allowing local and state agencies to take steps that previously required permits. Under these new guidelines, we're going to see what else we can now do to humanely manage this problem."However, not everyone is enthused about the revised regulations that now permit the killing of hundreds of thousands of geese nationwide annually for a period of 10 years. It is anticipated that the new rule will reduce the geese population to 2.1 million by 2016."The reality is that the environment needs to be regulated, not the birds, if there is significant change to be made," Brasted announced in a Humane Society press release that strongly condemned the August ruling. "While most complaints are about goose droppings in public places, none of the Services' actions in these final regulations will actually address that problem."
Bay Area prefers to discourage rather than destroy these prolific picnic party poopers