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Goose hunt set for North Huntingdon's Indian Lake Park

| Saturday, Jan. 28, 2012

Hunters will gather today for a literal wild goose chase in hopes of controlling the goose population at Indian Lake Park in North Huntingdon.

Hunts had been scheduled the two previous Saturdays this month, but no Canada geese were taken during the Jan. 14 hunt, and the Jan. 21 hunt was canceled because of bad weather, said Dan Miller, township director of parks and recreation. This hunt is expected to be the last of the season.

The park will be closed during the hunt -- starting around sunrise until about 1 p.m.

The program runs seasonally, and Miller said the geese will be back in season in spring or fall.

Township manager John Shepherd said the geese can be aggressive and dirty.

"They can come toward you and be an aggressive animal and be mean," he said.

Because of the birds, township crews have to frequently power wash the park's track, sometimes daily, he said.

Despite the hunts, the birds always seem to return.

"I would say that we would continue the program until we believe the problem is resolved or we believe the program isn't working, or we have a problem with it," Shepherd said.

Before beginning the hunts, the township tried other methods to dissuade the birds from coming to the park, including installing aerators in the water to discourage them from landing there and putting up barriers. Officials also permitted dogs in the park in hopes that they would deter the geese.

"Unfortunately they get used to those things," Shepherd said.

In cold weather when the lake freezes over, Miller said, there's no place for birds to sleep on the water. But that's not the case this year.

"The lake has not frozen over, so there is a return of those geese," he said.

Six preselected hunters will participate in today's event. North Huntingdon residents were given priority.

Participants were randomly selected and notified in advance, Miller said.

Geese that are killed will become the property of the participants, Miller said, adding that the township has suggested people donate them to a food bank.

Hunters are limited to 12-gauge shotguns, and ammunition must come from the township.

A state game commission officer will be present during the hunt, along with the township's police and parks personnel.

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