Trace the Dalmatian to return to goose-deterring duties in Grosse Pointe Shores

By: K. Michelle Moran | Grosse Pointe Times | Published January 24, 2024

Shutterstock image

GROSSE POINTE SHORES — After several years of using a variety of unsuccessful — and costly — methods to get Canada geese out of Osius Park, Grosse Pointe Shores is going back to something that actually worked.

This spring, Trace the Dalmatian will return to the beat as the Shores’ official goose-chaser. Shores resident Fran Bachmann, a professional dog trainer and Trace’s owner, will start bringing Trace to the park again in April. Trace doesn’t harm the geese or bark at them, but in the process of running toward them and trying to herd them, the birds perceive him as a threat and head elsewhere. Bachmann said the speedy Trace runs up to, and under, the geese as they take to the air to get away from the dog.

“You want them to fly as far as they can,” Bachmann said.

During a Nov. 21 Shores City Council meeting, City Councilman Donn Schroder said they’ve tried other goose mitigation tactics in recent years — including a lawn spray, mylar flags and allowing the grass to grow taller — “all to little avail.”

Pier Park in Grosse Pointe Farms has two designated goose dogs, Schroder said.

“Their geese issue is very minimal,” Schroder said.

In May 2018, Trace was awarded a K-9 patrol badge by former Public Safety Director John Schulte. By the third year that Bachmann and Trace were working at the park, she said, the pair had successfully shooed the geese from the park and into the lake. They were so effective that Bachmann said officials at the neighboring Grosse Pointe Yacht Club enlisted her and Trace to do the same for their property.

“By the third year, people could literally put their blankets on the grass,” Bachmann said of the park green spaces. “That’s when I knew it was successful. People could enjoy the park.”

Bachmann said she typically comes to the park a couple of times per day and at different times.

While Trace is sometimes unleashed, Bachmann said she keeps him on a leash most of the time.

Bachmann’s work was focused on immediate as well as long-term goose deterrence.

“I always made sure they never had any babies in the park,” Bachmann said of the geese. “That’s very important, because they always go back to the place where they were born.”

Trace also scared off the seagulls and barn swallows, so boaters in the Osius Park harbor didn’t have to clean so much bird fecal matter off their vessels, Bachmann said.

As was the case before, Bachmann and Trace are volunteering their services, so this goose removal effort comes at no cost to the city.

“Why did we stop doing this?” City Councilman John Dakmak asked. “Because it sounds like a wonderful (service).”

City Councilman John Seago said several other residents also wanted to be able to bring their dogs to the park to run off-leash after the geese, and Shores officials feared they were running afoul of a state statute prohibiting dogs from running off-leash in a public area.

The council voted unanimously Nov. 21 to allow Bachmann and Trace to work in the park to discourage geese from congregating. The motion stipulates that the dog allowed to do this work must be specially trained and must be approved by the Public Safety Department first.

Because of his training, Trace is a gentle and social dog.

Trace has earned his share of fans over the years, doing tricks for children visiting the park.

“He’s loved by everyone,” Bachmann said.

Nonetheless, Bachmann said she keeps Trace away from anyone who has a fear of dogs and is sensitive to this concern.

“Thanks for doing this, Fran,” Mayor Ted Kedzierski said.