LAKEVILLE, Minn. (WCCO) — In the spring and summer, we’re used to seeing geese near lakes and parks, but a growing goose population in Lakeville has the city taking tougher measures to control their numbers.
The problem is at Antlers Park and Lake Marion in Lakeville.
That’s where as many as 100 Canada geese have gathered at one time, leaving behind their droppings and creating a public health risk.
City leaders say geese numbers have grown so much that a few years ago they started using a liquid repellent in the grass to drive them away.
But it didn’t work.
Now, they are bringing in an expert to haul them away.
“We really want to look at the water quality, that’s number one,” said Lakeville Parks and Recreation director Brett Altergott. “With all the goose droppings, that does wash off into the lake, and that can get that e-coli to spike, which in the past has caused shutdowns of the beach for a day or two.”
The problem of too many geese in one location is happening in communities all over Minnesota.
But visitors to Antlers Park and homeowners near Lake Marion have reason to be concerned.
City leaders in Lakeville say they explored all the options for reducing the number of geese.
“What we’ve learned is that they do continue to increase, they come back to where they have mated,” Altergott said. “That number starts out small and then continually increases.”
Last week the city made the decision to hire Tom Keefe, a man who runs a company called Canada Goose Management.
Beginning in mid-June, Keefe and his team will come in and grab the geese and take them away on a trailer.
“What we’ll do is go in during that period of time and actually have a wild goose chase,” Keefe said, “essentially herd those birds up, using our crew and our netting system.”
The adult geese will end up at a poultry processing plant, where their meat will be donated to food shelves.
The goslings will be donated as food to animals kept at a wildlife research facility.
“It sounds extreme to some people,” Keefe said, “and frankly we…under the federal law, we could burn them or bury them, but we feel we want to utilize as much of the bird as much as we can.”
Keefe will collect the geese over the course of a few days.
In the Twin Cities, there are about 15,000-20,000 geese, but that estimate would be many times higher if cities didn’t control their populations.
Canada geese were introduced to Minnesota in the ’60s and ’70s. Then their numbers exploded, because the birds thrive in Minnesota’s watery habitat.