There's a whole lot of geese in Greater Sudbury, and they're not laying golden eggs, says a staff report going to the community services committee this evening.
The city spends about $75,000 a year trying to manage the droppings produced by the local geese population, which is increasing by 10-15 per cent every year in Canadian urban areas.
The program runs from May to October, and uses non-lethal methods to try and manage the problem. The control efforts have focused on James Jerome Sports Complex, Bell Park, Grace Hartman Amphitheatre, Nepahwin Park, Robinson Playground and Moonlight Beach.
Two specially designed sweepers help with the cleanup of the excrement, while DST Consulting Engineers -- a city-hired contractor -- uses a few methods to try and get the birds to leave.
“The control methods include canine control, habitat modification, public awareness, and control pyrotechnics (noise makers) modification,” the report says.
The most effective has turned out to be the use of dogs, which chase the birds away, as well as fencing nearby waterbodies to discourage the geese from settling in.
With the control program on a fixed budget, the number of weeks it operated this year and the number of visits to each location were reduced because of rising costs. But with the population surging, geese dropping are becoming a more common site, with Moonlight Beach particularly affected this year.
Canada Geese are prolific poopers, with each bird dropping a load every 15 minutes or so, producing as much as a pound or more of excrement a day. They're moving into urban areas – sports fields and beaches, in particular – because there are few natural predators and more sources of food.
“This could mean a possible 40-per-cent increase in the volume of geese visiting CGS parks since the program was introduced in 2009,” the report said. “Geese have been observed in the local parks much earlier in the season than in previous years, some sightings within the month of April.”
Other cities in Ontario have gotten creative with their attempts to deal with the problem. Some 'oil' goose eggs with vegetable oil, which prevents the egg from developing and hatching. Pickering has started a relocation program, where the birds are moved soon after hatching, before they can fly.
Perhaps the most inventive method has been used in Ottawa, where “drone” strikes have shown promising results. Making use of a remote-controlled mini-helicopter he created, an inventor in Ottawa is chasing the birds away from Petrie Island.
“If the method proves to be effective, the City of Ottawa may expand the program to other beaches,” the staff report says.