Living with fowl weather friends

Posted 12/23/10

Winter is back and so are the geese. Every year in late fall, flocks of Canada geese descend on the Front Range and take up residence on local parks …

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Living with fowl weather friends


Winter is back and so are the geese.

Every year in late fall, flocks of Canada geese descend on the Front Range and take up residence on local parks and golf courses. These migrators can travel more than 3,000 miles from colder climes to spend the winter here.

Flocks by the hundreds can be seen in many open grassy areas, including in Littleton’s Ketring Park.

According to Skot Latona, supervisor of Park Interpretation at South Platte Park and Carson Nature Center, that’s because Littleton’s numerous parks and open spaces with low-growing vegetation and open water are perfect habitat for the geese.

“Geese have a few habitat requirements that are perfectly aligned with what humans value in a city,” Latona wrote in an e-mail. “All of these can be found in great abundance in our parks and open spaces.”

Although there are some year-round denizens, they are a fraction of the winter numbers. Latona estimates that resident goose populations make up about 5 percent to 10 percent of the number in South Platte Park.

“There are more (geese) than there have been for several decades due to successful management of threatened populations and the artificially high levels of goose-friendly, predator-free urban habitat,” Latona said.

With so many geese living in an urban environment, local officials have taken steps to minimize the damage the birds cause to golf courses and parks.

Jim Priddy, manager of parks and open space for the South Suburban Parks and Recreation District, says the geese are a nuisance. They tear up the greens and people complain about them, Priddy said.

South Suburban has a permit from the Colorado Department of Wildlife to oil goose eggs in the spring to keep them from hatching. Hazing is another tactic the district employs.

“In the parks we use little starter pistols to scare them off,” said Dan Scheuerman, head park ranger at SSPRD. “The noise harasses them. The problem is in the wintertime Denver is a little grocery store to these birds.”

For the city of Littleton, it isn’t the birds themselves that are the problem. It’s their droppings.

Littleton Landscape Division Manager David Flaig says the city applies an expensive grape juice-based repellant along walkways near city buildings, like the city center and Bemis Library, to keep the birds off pedestrian areas.

“In our case we can more than justify the expense because we would spend hours every week cleaning off sidewalks,” Flaig said. “We’ve created a perfect habitat for them. We’ve got irrigated bluegrass covering our town.”

Although considered a nuisance by some, getting rid of the geese isn’t really an option.

“Canada geese are protected wildlife and the strong leaning in Littleton so far has been for educational efforts and a desire to learn to live with wildlife rather than eradicate them,” Latona said.

Keeping geese away

Written permission from the Colorado Department of Wildlife is needed before you can tamper with eggs or nests. But the DOW recommends other things you can do.

Don’t feed the geese

Make landscape modifications to your yard. Geese don’t like barriers such as shrubs or trees between feeding areas and open water.

A permit is not required to scare, repel, or herd geese to protect your property, as long as the birds are not killed or harmed. Hazing them with loud noises, chasing them or putting up scarecrows are all allowed.

According to the DOW, if you want to discourage Canada geese from making a home on your property, act quickly, be persistent and use more than one hazing method.


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