Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION

Honk if you're sick of all the goose poop

City to look at more ways to control bird population

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Kathy Lesyk is honking mad about all the goose poop in St. Vital Park.

The 73-year-old grandmother is one of numerous St. Vital residents who are in a flap about the crap and recently voiced their concerns to city Coun. Brian Mayes.

"There is just more and more of them (geese) every year and they poop all over the walkway around the duck pond, so it's just gross," said Lesyk, who lives about 10 minutes from the park where she likes to take her grandchildren to spend time in the green space.

"You take your little toddler there, you let them out of the stroller to walk and they fall in the poop," Lesyk said.

"You can't have a picnic there. You spread out your blanket and you're sitting in all their mess. It's very unsanitary. It really cuts down on how much you can use the park. I don't know if kids can even play soccer there anymore because they'd be running through it."

There were 121,000 geese identified within Winnipeg city limits in the 2013 goose survey by the Urban Goose Working Group (City of Winnipeg, Manitoba Conservation and Water Stewardship, Canadian Wildlife Service and Winnipeg Airports Authority), said Environment Canada spokesman Mark Johnson. That's up from the 111,000 counted in 2012.

Mayes, who is also the chairman of the city's protection and community services committee, is facing the feces furor.

"I remember 20 years ago at the park, there were ducks but there weren't all these geese," Mayes said. "Now it's a mess, a hundred geese, maybe, and just excrement everywhere."

At Thursday's committee meeting, Mayes requested a report at the next meeting Dec. 2 that will follow up the 2011 study and its recommendations for "geese dissuasion."

The city has tried several of the recommended deterrents over the past two summers. A city spokeswoman said officials are "currently researching new deterrent devices and the effectiveness of vegetation alteration around retention ponds."

In the meantime, the fecal fiasco ruined Lesyk's walk Friday morning with her grandchildren.

"We were walking on the road, and I thought we could walk in the grass because it's a little easier on your feet, and you're dodging the poop so you go back on the road," Lesyk said. "I know it's a problem all over the city. It's just getting worse and worse every year, and I think it's a health concern. There must be a way to control the geese population. It would be wonderful if we could go back to just ducks."

In 2011, the Urban Goose Working Group removed about 1,200 eggs from 200 nests in the Kenaston and Bishop Grandin boulevards area. Mayes said he is not aware of any goose-egg removal initiatives since then.

Geese defecate several times an hour and can produce a kilogram of feces each day, Environment Canada spokesman Mark Johnson said.

Johnson said the Canada geese population has grown dramatically in recent decades and is at unprecedented numbers. He said a recent compilation of survey results reported the minimum estimated number of Canada geese in North America exceeded 7 million birds in 2001 and the number has likely grown considerably since then.

ashley.prest@freepress.mb.ca

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition November 9, 2013 B2

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