Opinion Matters

With Gazette Opinion Editor Greg Peck

They didn’t call it Goose Island for nothing

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Greg Peck
Tuesday, April 26, 2011

The Gazetteís anonymous Sound Off line took a call from one critic of the Janesville Patriotic Societyís plans to expand the monuments and veterans walkways in Traxler Park.

The lengthy comment suggested that while the Janesville Patriotic Society might support the plan, many or even most veterans born and raised here do not. The caller pointed out two problems with that locationóit floods too often and is plagued with goose poop, which, the caller claimed, isnít even cleaned up around the current monuments before veterans services.

ďThe area is called Goose Island for a reason,Ē the caller said. ďItís disgusting.Ē

I have shortened the comment for use in Wednesday's Sound Off.

Goose poop in Traxler Park, however, can be a problem. I was disgusted myself after taking my granddaughter fishing at Traxler in 2009. You might recall that in 2002, city officials agreed to let hunters take shots at the geese. Animal lovers were appalled, however, and the guns were silenced.

Other methods that have been tried in Janesville and elsewhere include an ordinance against feeding geese in parks (too often ignored or not enforced here), using border collies to chase away flocks, addling goose eggs so the young donít hatch and stringing lines about 6 inches off the ground to deter geese, which apparently donít like stepping over the lines.

This City of Parks, of course, isnít the only area community troubled by geese and their droppings. Last year, Delavan Township agreed to have federal wildlife officials catch and kill geese to reduce problems in a park. Dorothy Burwell, then town chairwoman, supported that plan, and Ryan Simons was the only town board member to vote against it.

Simons ousted Burwell for town chair by just three votes in this monthís elections, and itís reasonable to believe that critics of the goose round-up helped push him past Burwell.

All of this came to mind during the Easter weekend, when Cheryl and I visited our grandchildren in Hoffman Estates, Ill. Geese seem to be most everywhere. Stepson Adam and I took the kids to play in a park with a large pond and some current flooding problems. The kids enjoyed the playground, and I noticed a couple of swans on a nearby pond.

Adam pointed out that the swans werenít real; instead, they were decoys designed to keep geese away because swans and geese donít play nicely together. Adam said the geese still use the parkland some distance away, but if they were around, I didnít see them. Neither did I notice any goose poop problems around the playground equipment. I did, however, notice another pair of fake swans positioned at the other end of the pond.

I wonder if swan decoys could ease the problems in some of Janesvilleís parks, or whether geese would just eventually grow wise to the dummies.

Does anyone have any other good ideas for easing this problem?

Greg Peck can be reached at (608) 755-8278 or gpeck@gazettextra.com. Or follow him on Twitter

Last updated: 10:16 am Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Greg Peck can be reached at (608) 755-8278 or gpeck@gazettextra.com. Or follow him on Twitter or Facebook.

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