Boston’s Canada Goose Problem Is Bad, And Here’s What We Can Do About It
Do you hate Canada Geese? The way they take over public spaces like a winged, poop-spewing gang, harassing park-goers and intimidating small children?
You’re not alone.
The growing ranks of the goose population in Boston have become such a problem that it’s gone all the way to City Hall.
Boston’s City Council took up the issue at its meeting today, and the council’s parks committee has been ordered to take the matter up and hold a hearing about it.
Councilor-at-Large Annissa Essaibi-George filed the order on Wednesday.
Boston’s parks, playgrounds, ballfields, golf courses and waterways have become home to thousands of Canada Geese.
A single goose can consume up to four pounds of grass per day and produce as much as three pounds of fecal matter every day, causing little league teams to spend time cleaning fields, dog owners to clean goose feces from their pets’ paws, and walkers to walk in the street to avoid fouled sidewalks.
The impacts of Canada Geese are a citywide problem growing worse exponentially, geese mitigation needs a citywide solution to protect our precious greenspace as well as our children and other vulnerable populations.
Three pounds of poop per day, in case you missed that horrifying factoid. Essaibi-George tells the Globe that all that fecal matter has been disrupting her family’s trips to Boston parks. ““We’ve invested in our park system,” she says, “and for them to be destroyed by geese impacts our ability to enjoy [the parks] fully.”
So what can be done about an over-abundance of geese, you ask? There are actually a lot of options.
For starters, though, the Humane Society urges cities not to act rashly and just start killing the birds (they’ve done something like that with seagulls on the Cape), no matter how gross or annoying the beaked interlopers are. That’s inhumane, for one, but it also doesn’t work—when geese are rounded up and killed, it just makes more space for new arrivals to replace them.
One thing park overseers can do is goose-proof the landscaping: planting grass geese don’t like, limiting the amount of plant-free lawn available for grazing, and installing plants that, to a goose’s eye, are big enough that they might hide predators.
Or one might deploy red or green lasers to scatter flocks of landed birds. Apparently, geese hate lasers.
GeesePeace, an organization that encourages the non-lethal handling of goose problems, instructs cities on how to conduct “egg depredation” to control the population—preventing new geese from being born by, for example, coating the eggs in corn oil.
Look closely on the banks of the Charles and you might notice a few sets of “geese beacons,” solar-powered orbs that emit pulses of light and deter geese who might otherwise lay their eggs nearby. The Esplanade Association started using the devices last fall and has “seen great success” with them.
But here’s hoping Boston looks to Washington, D.C. for inspiration if leaders decide to put together a citywide anti-goose plan. The nation’s capital last year began deploying border collies to the National Mall to scare away the waterfowl (Boston has actually been testing out a version of this, working with a private contractor called Geese Police on the Esplanade and the Public Garden).
Of all the strategies to de-goose the Hub, it would be, by far, the most adorable.