12/10/09 — Walnut Creek had to euthanize pesky Canada geese

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Walnut Creek had to euthanize pesky Canada geese

By Laura Collins
Published in News on December 10, 2009 1:46 PM

This past summer wasn't good for the goose or the gander at Walnut Creek.

In June, the Village of Walnut Creek, along with the USDA, rounded up and euthanized 119 geese from its property.

According to Town Administrator Lou Cook, both the residents and the country club had complained about the geese causing problems. He said initially the village tried other measures to ease the nuisance of the geese, including using fishing line along the edge of properties to keep them out, using motion-sensored sprinklers, noise-makers and a dog to chase after the geese. Members of the village also got permits to addle eggs, which basically means to shake them so they won't hatch.

When those techniques didn't work, Cook said the USDA agreed to remove and euthanize the geese. Cook added that the village didn't announce the date the USDA was coming.

"The only thing we really did in secret, if you want to call it secret, is that we didn't advertise the date of the roundup," he said.

Had they announced plans to round up and euthanize the geese, it's likely they would have had protesters, Cook said.

Although the village is a self-proclaimed bird sanctuary, Cook said there is nothing in the ordinance saying the village can't take measures to get rid of nuisances.

Jon Heisterberg, state director for USDA wildlife services, said rounding up and euthanizing geese isn't uncommon. Before 1997, the USDA used to relocate geese to Mississippi, but that stopped in 1997 because once the geese were released in Mississippi, they migrated to urban areas rather than staying in the rural areas in which they were released.

Heisterberg said in recent years there hasn't been anywhere to take geese since the state does not allow geese to be relocated within the state. So when requested, the USDA captures and euthanizes geese that are a nuisance.

"They get very aggressive during the nesting season. If you get close to a goose nest, they will actually go after some people," he said.

In addition to being aggressive, Heisterberg said, geese can damage grass and turf, causing soil erosion, and geese droppings can also become a problem.

"People can't hardly step sometimes without stepping in feces," Heisterberg said.

In 2009, the USDA received between 300-400 complaints about geese. Of those complaints, the agency conducted about 10 roundups.