St. Clair Shores investigating goose control at local beaches

By: Kristyne E. Demske | St. Clair Shores Sentinel | Published May 28, 2013

 A fence installed along the beach at Blossom Heath aims to keep geese from taking over the park.

A fence installed along the beach at Blossom Heath aims to keep geese from taking over the park.

Photo by Kristyne E. Demske

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The call of the wild can be heard in honks echoing through St. Clair Shores parks.

An ongoing issue, the Canada geese are back and mating along the lakefront, which Mayor Kip Walby says is an issue because the city hosts many events at Blossom Heath and Veterans Memorial parks over the summer. He doesn’t want geese and the mess they make to be visitors’ impressions of the facilities.

“We know we have a little bit of a problem, as does anybody who has water,” he said. “We are taking steps to correct it. It’s not a big problem but we’re going to handle it.

“We can’t make the place a bird sanctuary.”

Acting City Manager Mike Smith said that this year, the birds have been making an early home at Blossom Heath, building nests in the park, which is now filled with adult geese and their goslings. Since the beach there cannot be used for swimming, he said, the city erected a three-foot high fence separating the water from the park to slow the geese from coming farther onto shore.

Some of the adult geese, Smith said, have swum around to the boat ramp and come up on shore at that location, but, he explained, “We can only relocate them so far at this point.”

The city is investigating other alternatives to goose control. Dogs were brought in but, when a resident called the Department of Natural Resources, St. Clair Shores officials were told that the dogs cannot run free and harass the geese, although they can be brought in on leashes.

The DNR recommended a company to the city, Gooseworks, which humanely uses Border Collies to control the population and even — with a permit from the state — relocates the birds up north. The service would cost $400 for the first 50 birds, Smith said.

Any such control will be an ongoing program, he explained, because since most of the city’s residential lakefront has seawalls, the lakefront parks are about the only place the geese can come ashore.

“This is just the beginning,” Walby agreed at the May 20 City Council meeting. “The point of it is to start early so it doesn’t get horrible.”

“The geese aren’t the problem,” Smith said. “It’s what they leave us.”

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