Lake Wildwood has started the process of removing up to 75 geese | TheUnion.com

Lake Wildwood has started the process of removing up to 75 geese

Geese take to the skies at dusk over Lake Wildwood.

The removal of the geese from Lake Wildwood has started.

It'll likely take several weeks or longer to euthanize the geese — a process allowed under a federal permit gained by the Lake Wildwood Association.

Bob Mariani, general manager of the association, said between 100 and 200 geese frequent Lake Wildwood. The permit allows for the removal of 75.

"Whether or not that many will be removed, I couldn't really tell you," he said.

A circumstantial link between goose droppings and an E. coli outbreak that sickened some people led to the removal of the birds.

The association has tried various removal methods in the past, including strobe lights and oiling the eggs, to prevent them from hatching, a memorandum states.

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Efforts stalled. And then, last year, the E. coli outbreak occurred.

"We've had many long discussions," Mariani said. "The geese do cause a tremendous amount of droppings and health issues."

Lake Wildwood is one of many parks and communities across the country dealing with geese. Lake of the Pines, in South County, is another.

"We've got a goose population that comes and goes," said John Bowman, general manager of the Lake of the Pines Association. "Goose poop on the walkways is not unheard of."

Bowman said his association has a permit allowing it to treat the eggs, stopping them from hatching. It oiled about 120 this spring — a typical amount. Lake of the Pines has between 60 and 120 adult geese during the year.

Bowman's organization never has obtained a permit allowing it to euthanize the animals.

Lake of Pines opted to test its waters when Lake Wildwood had its E. coli outbreak. Bowman said any body of water has bacteria. However, his association had no dangerous levels and had no reason to close its beaches.

However, Bowman has placed notices in Lake of the Pines about swimming in natural waters.

"But it hasn't risen to a problem where we've had to take any action," he said.

Bend Park

The Bend Park and Recreation District in Oregon has used various methods of removing geese for over 10 years, said Jeff Amaral, the district's natural resources manager.

"For us, it's not about removing all the geese from the park," he said.

Instead it's about reducing the damage caused by the geese, which includes lowering the amount of droppings and lessening erosion.

According to Amaral, efforts start with educating the public. His district discourages people from feeding the geese.

It also contacts property owners outside of the parks district and gets permission to access nests on their land. Workers oil eggs both on and off park property, Amaral said.

The district also chases geese away. Using kayaks and watercraft, they "haze" the geese. Trained dogs as well as paint balls, the latter used to splash water around the birds, help as well, he added.

A high-powered laser, which places a dot on the ground, disturbs the geese and makes them leave.

Euthanasia has been used once. In 2010, the district obtained a permit allowing them to euthanize the birds. They removed 109 geese, donating them to a local food bank, Amaral said.

When spread out over the parks, the geese cause little problems. It's when they're concentrated in a small area in the district that issues arise.

Amaral said he couldn't estimate the number of geese in the parks district.

"It's a situation where you're not going to a find a cure-all," he said.

Denver

Denver Parks and Recreation, in Colorado, has about 20,000 acres of parkland. It's also got plenty of geese.

Cyndi Karvaski, spokeswoman for the parks, said it's unknown how many geese live in the park system. She knows that about 20,000 geese make the state their home and no longer migrate.

That number can triple in winter, Karvaski said.

"It seems very, very high," she added.

The geese, like in Nevada County and Bend, Oregon, leave droppings. Denver parks deals with the problem in different ways.

One trick Denver uses is what Karvaski called "the Goosinator" — a mechanical, remote-controlled hazing device. Painted to look like a predator, it's driven through the water to scare geese away, she said.

It also employs sweepers to monitor trails, pathways and sidewalks, removing the goose droppings.

Like other areas, Denver also oils eggs from March to July.

According to Karvaski, people regularly ask if the goose droppings pose a health hazard. She said there's no documented research showing there's a direct threat.

Denver parks never has obtained a federal permit to euthanize geese, Karvaski said.

"The geese will continue to migrate," she added. "They'll just continue to come back to the parks."

To contact Staff Writer Alan Riquelmy, email ariquelmy@theunion.com or call 530-477-4239.