Canada geese wear out welcome at Fryer Park

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 Messenger photo by Andrea Cordle
 Grove City Parks and Recreation has an ongoing problem with Canada geese at Fryer Park. City employees struggle to keep the walking path around the pond clean and methods to relocate the birds have failed. Now, the city has new plans to encourage the geese to find a new home.

Some visitors from up north are causing quite a stink in Grove City.

Residents have complained that Canada geese are ruining their recreation at Fryer Park. The birds fill the pond and leave a big mess, feces, on the walking path around the water.

"They have been a problem for the past couple of months," said Grove City Parks and Recreation Director Kim Conrad. "Fryer Park seems to be the only park where we have real problems."

Conrad explained that city park employees do clean up the mess but even that seems pointless.

"We clean it up and two minutes later they have made more of a mess," she commented. "We just can’t keep up with it."

According to the Ohio Department of Natural Resources (ODNR), before 1950 Canada geese were only known as migrants and winter visitors. In the early 1950s, the Ohio Division of Wildlife established a program that would permanently bring flocks to the state. Now, they live in Ohio year-round.

ODNR says Canada geese are probably the most adaptable and tolerant of all native waterfowl. They will establish nests on any suitable pond, be it at an apartment complex, city park, golf course or backyard.

The conflict between the birds and humans continues to grow. Canada geese are protected under both the Federal Migratory Bird Treaty Act and Ohio state law. The protection extends to the geese, goslings, nests and eggs. According to ODNR, non-lethal scare tactics, which do not harm the birds, are permitted. Some of the tactics include pyrotechnics, dogs, barriers, a grid on the pond, laser pointers, distress calls, or grape-flavored repellents.

Conrad said the city has tried some methods to remove them from Fryer Park but so far, nothing has worked. They plan to start discharging starter guns, as used during a track meet, to scare the birds away. They will fire the starter gun once in the early morning then once in the evening.

"This will break up the routine of what they do, without harming them, and hopefully it will make them choose another location," said Conrad.

The parks and recreation department needs to get a permit from the Grove City Division of Police in order to fire off the starter gun. Conrad said they have already applied for the permit and are awaiting the decision.

If the permit is granted and that still does not deter the geese, Conrad said the city would explore other options such as using a special food the birds do not like or using lights and sounds that disrupt them. She also said they might employ a dog to chase them away.

"This is an issue and we are aware of it," said Conrad. "Hopefully, it will be resolved soon."

Another reason Canada geese stay in the same place is because humans encourage them by giving them food. ODNR recommends that people not feed the geese. By feeding them, the birds could lose their natural fear of humans and attack adults, children and pets, especially during nesting season, which is March through June.

For more information on Canada geese, or ways to safely and legally encourage them to leave, log onto www.ohiodnr.com.

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