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Coyote decoys deployed in Scott Township's effort to rid park of geese

| Friday, Jan. 6, 2017, 4:42 p.m.
A coyote decoy sits in one of the ball fields at Scott Park on Wednesday, Jan. 4, 2017. Several decoys, along with four inflatable sharks and alligators with LED lights, were placed at various points in the park and pool to keep geese away.
Kristina Serafini | Tribune-Review
A coyote decoy sits in one of the ball fields at Scott Park on Wednesday, Jan. 4, 2017. Several decoys, along with four inflatable sharks and alligators with LED lights, were placed at various points in the park and pool to keep geese away.
A coyote decoy sits in one of the ball fields at Scott Park on Wednesday, Jan. 4, 2017. The decoys, along with four inflatable sharks and alligators with LED lights, were placed at various points in the park and pool to keep geese away.
Kristina Serafini | Tribune-Review
A coyote decoy sits in one of the ball fields at Scott Park on Wednesday, Jan. 4, 2017. The decoys, along with four inflatable sharks and alligators with LED lights, were placed at various points in the park and pool to keep geese away.

What started out as a quick experiment has — at least for now — helped to solve a goose problem in Scott Township Park.

At the end of December, Bert Smelko, the township's Department of Public Works foreman, placed a fake coyote he uses for hunting on one of two baseball fields in the park in an attempt to keep geese away.

“There were about 50 of them on the big ball field for two or three weeks,” Smelko said. “I put my personal coyote out there with a call box and within a half-hour, they took off.”

The problem was, the geese flew to the other baseball field.

“I didn't have any more decoys at the time and I wasn't about to follow them around,” Smelko said.

He received permission from township Manager Denise Fitzgerald to purchase more decoys for the baseball field as well as the swimming pool. Currently, there are multiple coyote decoys on both fields and a few near the swimming pool.

In the pool, decoy alligators and shark rafts float.

The two decoy alligators have LED lights and there four inflatable shark rafts.

The decoys are stored inside in the evenings and set back up before sunrise.

The cost for the coyotes is “relatively cheap” at $60, Smelko said. The alligators run around $30 and the shark rafts are cheaper.

“It's been working,” Smelko said. “The geese have posed a problem for a few years now and we wanted to take care of this in the most humane way possible.”

Scott Commissioner Bill Wells said while the decoys may be working now, the effect won't last.

“I researched this on the internet and I found out there's never long-lasting results; the geese become used to them,” Wells said last week. “I went past the other day and there were a bunch of geese there.”

Smelko's concern now is the weather. With the temperature dropping, the water in the pool will start to freeze, so the decoys won't stay in the water when it's cold.

If the tactic continues to prove successful, Smelko said other municipalities could look at it as a safe and affordable way to curtail geese, though he isn't quite sold on the idea of it being a long-term solution.

“I have my guys moving the coyotes around every day so they're not in the same position,” Smelko said. “These geese will start to recognize that they're fake if they're always in the same spot. There may come a time when the geese realize that if they're all in the same general area that they are fake. But I hope not. I hope it works.”

Matthew Peaslee is a Tribune-Review contributing writer.

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