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Superior is trying to reduce its Canadian geese population this year. Parks and recreation director Linda Cadotte said that the population has risen by 22 percent since 2016 and their population has been rising exponentially in the past 50 years. Cadotte spoke to the Superior city council on Tuesday about what her department has been doing to reduce their population and what Superior may have to do this summer if the population does not decrease.
“They’re cute, they’re fun to watch, they’re fun, they’re part of wildlife, and a lot of people appreciate them. The challenge we’re running into is the population. It’s the number of them,” she said.
Last year the city signed off on allowing the police department to kill problem waterfowl. They also designated areas for law enforcement to hunt geese as an effort to lower their population.This effort lead to the killing of 200 geese.
Geese have caused numerous problems throughout Superior. Cadotte said one adult can produce up to six pounds of fecal matter in one day. This has caused issues on Barker’s Island where their waste goes into the water, making it contaminated with Escherichia coli (E. coli). Last year the beach was closed more than it was open because of high E. coli levels and Superior is one of five areas in Wisconsin that is receiving special attention from the Department of Natural Resources to clean the water around the island.
Cadotte shared the story of a resident with only one leg who contacted her because he kept slipping on bird waste while trying to get into his boat. The dock in question was being power-washed twice weekly to remove the geese waste.
The city has been working with the Department of Agriculture, DNR, and a group called Canada Geese Peace, who work with city leaders to solve wildlife conflicts in a humane way.
The current plan is to oil goose eggs before they hatch. This terminates the embryo development of the egg. Many consider this to be the most humane way of lowering Canadian geese populations, and even PETA has endorsed it. Volunteers will be going to sites around Superior where goose nests are known to be.
Another way they are trying to lower populations returning to Superior is to strictly enforce an ordinance to fine people for feeding waterfowl. Despite this ordinance having been in place since last summer, Superior Police Chief Nicholas Alexander mentioned at Tuesday’s city council meeting that no citations had been given out, despite numerous calls from the parks and recreation department that people were feeding geese.
“We are at a pretty unfortunate tipping point,” said Cadotte. “Not a lot of cities have the amount of geese that we have.”
If the Canadian geese population is found to be the same or more than last year, the next step would be to “round-up” the geese. This would happen during the period in which geese won’t fly because they’re with their offspring and their offspring don’t know how to fly yet.
Round-ups have been done all across the state of Wisconsin in the past but not yet in Superior. Cadotte explained there were essentially two ways a round-up could be done. One is to euthanize the geese and send them to the landfill. The other would be to have them tested for contamination. If they are not contaminated their meat will be sent to food shelves. Cadotte said if it comes to it, they will opt for the second option. She also encouraged anyone who does not want to see this happen to volunteer to help oil eggs this spring.
At Tuesday’s meeting Mayor Jim Paine shared his thoughts on Superior’s geese problem.
“You all kind of laughed at me at the idea that I got chased by a goose but here’s the thing councilors,” said Paine. “That goose got me. Like, it caught me and it hurt. That happened in front of a school, I think it was Great Lakes on 28th street. and I was running pretty quick, and I’m telling you you wouldn’t want this happening to a kid.”
He also said that although these are unpleasant choices to make, Superior’s Canadian goose problem is a public health concern.
Cadotte said this issue first arose in 2006 but they have been focusing on solving it more in the past year after an heightened amount of complaints came to the parks and recreation department.