Eliminating Park Geese and Their "Poop" - TribPapers

Eliminating Park Geese and Their “Poop”

Some ducks enjoy a November day on lake Louise not bothered by the solution the town used to rid the park of Canadian Geese. Photo by Clint Parker.

Weaverville – Weaverville’s Lake Louise Park is a popular spot for locals, tourists, and, unfortunately, waterfowl. Waterfowl, particularly geese, were causing havoc in the park for other visitors. See, geese make a terrible mess when they… well, when they need to go to the bathroom. Disgustingly, they just don’t care where they go.

Weaverville Public Works Director Dale Pennell said the problem has worsened over the last two years as more people used the park to exercise and get out of the house during the pandemic. People would feed the ducks and the geese, causing more and more of the unwelcome waterfowl to come to the lake and approach people who wanted to feed the animals.

Despite signs all over the park warning individuals of a $30 fine for feeding the waterfowl, Pennell said the practice continues. Indeed, while the newspaper interviewed Pennell in the park, individuals were observed feeding the ducks. 

Of course, people feeding the animals was not the only reason the geese hung out at the park. There was also grass for the fowls to feast on while waiting for enablers to come by and feed them bread, (which can be very unhealthy for the birds over the long terms). “They love to graze,” said Pennell.

“Back in the summer, we were having a terrible time with resident Canadian Geese that don’t migrate. We had people send us pictures. We had one nice lady send us a picture, and they [the geese] were right there in the middle of the playground area,” he said. “Seventy-four geese she captured in one picture… Of course, as they walked, they got rid of what they’d eaten, and that’s right in all that rubber mulch we have [down] to protect the kids.”

That proverbial straw broke the camel’s back. It was time to do something. After researching, a product was found that seems to do the job, at least for the geese.

Solution to the problem

Avian Migrate is the solution – literally. It is a concentrated solution of goose and bird repellent that Pennell said they found in order to get rid of the problem fowls. 

“It irritates their [the geese] tastebuds… We got a tow behind sprayer for one of our big mowing machines” to apply the solution after it was mixed with water. “It’s a food-grade product and is non-toxic to birds or in the water or anything.”

Pennell said public works staffers treated about a two-acre area around the lake and community center three different times at two-week intervals and “the geese left and every now and then you’d see a flock of eight or 10 that would stop by here and in a few minutes they were leaving,” explains Pennell. “Once they left, there weren’t as many geese here, so people stopped bringing the food down as much,” which he said has helped break the cycle that attracts the geese.

Asked how soon did the geese start leaving after the treatments, Pennell said after the first treatment, but it was noticed they would come back after several rains. “So we retreated it and did one more treatment a few weeks later, and that’s been pretty much it.”

However, ducks don’t seem to be affected by the solution. “That’s what we’ve seen. This is supposed to be for any kind of waterfowl, but as you can see, there’s a whole bunch of Mallards there, and there are some of the domestic geese that somehow end up down here, but their populations have decreased. But it has not been eliminated like the Canadian geese. It was the Canadian geese. They are big birds that eat a lot. They poop a lot. They love to make a mess.”

Pennell said it was so bad that they had to “pressure wash picnic pavillions about every week because of so much goose droppings.” He also said the exercise equipment area and the playground were the other trouble spots where the geese did their “business.” 

“It wasn’t sanitary and we just didn’t want there to be a chance of there being a kid having any adverse reaction to stepping in it or falling in it.”
The Michigan-made solution isn’t cheap. “It’s expensive. It was $595 for five gallons. We said, oh, that’s a lot of money to spend, but then it’s extremely concentrated.” 

So far, they’ve used about a gallon of the solution, so they still have four-fifths of what the department bought left for future use.