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Township residents call foul on wayward fowl in Scott Park

Wednesday, March 5, 2014, 9:00 p.m.
 

Scott Township residents find the fowl in Scott Park a little....foul.

The gaggle of geese that enjoys the short grass in the five-acre park has become so much of a problem that township commissioners have hired professionals to take care of the birds.

“It's bad. They create up to a pound of feces every day,” commission President David Jason said. “It's like having a thousand rats — people see geese as nice, friendly creatures, but it's about the waste.”

Commissioners approved a proposal from Integrated Goose Management of LaGrange, Ill. on Feb. 25. The 18-month contract is worth $2,555 for 20 visits to the park on Lindsay Road for “goose harassment.”

The harassment is less about calling the birds silly geese and more about frightening them away from the park, said Amy Hess, a certified wildlife biologist with the U.S. Department of Agriculture's Wildlife Services.

The fowl cause a public safety hazard, she said.

“There was so much fecal matter, they were having to refund rental money for pavilions,” said Hess, who has worked with Scott in an advisory capacity for four years. “People were complaining about the amount on the benches and on the playgrounds.”

She said that while the waste is not harmful unless it is ingested, “kids are kids.

“Kids on the playground could easily ingest it,” Hess said.

Harassment was the best route for the township, she said, and can come in a variety of forms, including trained dogs and pyrotechnics – noisemakers called “bangers” and “screamers.”

“It's kind of the same as your traditional firework, but not visual,” she said.

Bangers are fired out of a starter pistol and sound like a shotgun blast. Screamers are also shot from a gun and screech like a bottle rocket. The goal is to frighten the geese into flying away.

A last-ditch option is actual firearms, she said.

“We use shooting only when the geese are nonresponsive to everything else — like if we go up, fire a pyrotechnic and they're like, ‘Pssh, what else have you got?'” Hess said.

It's the last option that causes Commissioner Bill Wells concern.

“I don't want any firearms used in that park,” he said. “I don't care if they scare them out of there or use dogs to chase them out — I don't want any guns in that park.”

Hess said commissioners would have to approve the shooting method before it would happen.

“It's our last tool,” she said. “If we're giving them information, we want to give them everything we're capable of.”

Wells said that although he admits the geese are a problem, he worries the harassment is not a long-term solution.

“They're definitely a problem, but we could end up spending $2,500 again because nothing says they'll get rid of them forever,” he said. “This could end up being $2,500 a year.”

Jason said he thinks the harassment will be a step in the right direction.

“Hopefully this will solve the problem,” he said. “If not, we'll explore other options. We feel this will be a good start at least.”

Megan Guza is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. She can be reached at 412-388-5810 or mguza@tribweb.com.

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