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Can plan cook these park geese?

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Greg Peck
January 8, 2013

Ray Ehle has a new plan for trying to keep geese from making a home of Janesville’s Traxler Park. This will be the subject of The Gazette’s editorial Wednesday.

When it comes to geese in Janesville’s parks, I’m of the same mind as Ray Ehle. Anyone who has spent any time at Traxler or Monterey, two parks along the Rock River, can sympathize with Ehle’s beef. Goose poop is everywhere. Ehle is a member of the local Veterans of Foreign Wars honor guard, which takes part in observances at Veterans Plaza in Traxler Park.

“To have our guests and spectators walk through the droppings disgusts me,” he told The Gazette’s Anna Marie Lux in her Sunday column.

In 2002, the city went so far as to approve a plan for hunters to take aim at geese. Animal-rights advocates quickly shot down that idea. The city also has tried noise-makers and having dogs chase the birds. It banned feeding the birds in parks and even resorted to addling eggs in goose nests so the eggs don’t hatch.

A few years ago, I took my granddaughter, Lexi, to fish at the Traxler Park lagoon. Piles of goose poop were everywhere. You had to watch every step you took so you weren’t stepping in the droppings. I had a hard time finding a clean spot to set down my tackle box.

To me, it seems to be a health hazard. Lexi and I haven’t been back to Traxler since. Now that her little brother is quickly approaching the age where he might enjoy such a trip, as well, I doubt I’ll take him there.

Parks Director Tom Presny admits that the city’s management goal is about 480 geese in the parks system and a count more than two years ago found more than 2,000. My guess is that more of these foul fowl waddled around our parks this last summer. Adding to the problem is that many of them stay year-round rather than migrate.

Ehle has a new plan. He’s creating eight wooden coyote cutouts. He’s painting them to create three-dimensional appearances. He plans to position them at Traxler before any of the big honkers start thinking about nesting. Because coyotes are natural predators of geese, the idea is that birds flying to the park will spot the cutouts and head for safer grounds. He and Presny agree that the cutouts will need to be moved often or the geese will get wise to them.

Do you think this plan or some other method might work? We'll share our perspectives in our editorial Wednesday.

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



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