By Denise DuBois
Joggers at Moon Lake may have noticed something different in the scenery last week. Normally overrun with geese, the lake and walking path had very few or none at all. Earlier last week, the U.S. Department of Agriculture euthanized, at the request of the Phenix City government, 200 geese. The process cost the city $2,000.
Tanya Espinosa, a media spokesperson for the USDA, when asked how many geese had been euthanized in Alabama over the past year, responded, “During FY19, approximately 1,400 Canada geese were removed to protect five airports (mil/civ) and minimize wildlife strike with aircraft; various City/County/State/Private lands and public use areas to minimize human health and safety concerns from feces accumulation and high levels of bacteria (ecoli) in public waters.”
Espinosa explained that there are different types of Canada geese – migratory and resident.
“Migratory geese are those that are only in an area during a specific timeframe, however, resident Canada Geese are those that do not migrate. They stay in the area year-round. They have found an adequate food source and there is not sufficient predator pressure,” she said.
City leaders and signs at the park urge people not to feed the geese for a number of reasons. First, feeding the geese bread makes them sick as they cannot digest the food. It also causes them to stick around when they should be migrating.
“It is unhealthy for the geese to stay in one spot,” Phenix City Utilities Director Steve Smith said in a meeting. “You’re not supposed to feed migratory birds. The people who are complaining about this, if they are feeding those birds, they are responsible for the death of those birds.”
Espinosa said under Alabama law it was not possible to relocate the geese unless a proper state and/or federal permit is acquired. She does give some advice as to how to keep the geese from overpopulating an area: “Several management techniques can be utilized to discourage geese from an area. Non-lethal harassment techniques including use of fire crackers, dogs, lasers, remote control boats, paint ball guns, etc. can legally be utilized to combat geese issues. Aggressive harassment is recommended so habituation does not occur. Additionally, use of reflective tape or fencing can discourage geese from accessing potential damage areas from the water,” she said. “In order to combat such issues with resident geese, it is recommended not to supplemental feed in any scenario. Supplemental feeding may cause a variety of damages to private property and adjacent lands, increase the potential of disease transmission between waterfowl due to congregation, and provide an artificial food source that is not available in the natural environment. Wildlife species often suffer when natural forage is not utilized for survival, growth, and development.”
Toni Stauffer contributed
to this article