City's geese are invasive pests
Soon we will be experiencing the ritual of spring. The mating of geese and the many offspring they will have. Yes, geese are a beautiful bird and once they mate it is for life. When they have a nest of eggs they are very protective and take turns sitting on the nest. Many of the letters to the editor say how friendly the geese are and say they would not hurt anyone. But disturb a goose that is nesting, come close to the nest or near the cute little ones after hatching and you will see a different animal.
As a past golf course superintendent at Jones Golf Course, I can personally tell you that any of the actions mentioned will reveal the parental instincts of adult geese. I have heard of a golfer that hit his golf ball into a pond and when looking for it did not notice a nesting goose 30 feet away on the bank of the pond. Its mate, however, noticed the golfer and proceeded to fly into the back of the golfer, knocking him into the pond. Yes, geese are very protective of their nesting mate.
After hatching their eggs, geese will come after anyone getting close to their little ones. I have been attacked when getting too close to them while working. A children are at risk if they get too close to a family of geese and are considered a threat. Geese do not “love humans”. Geese do not hesitate to attack when they or their mate are threatened or their little ones are being threatened.
Some remark about how everything must defecate and how some areas are hit more than others. An adult goose drops between 1 and 1 1/2 pounds of droppings per day. They also are a bird of habit, which means they return to the same area every day at around the same time. If you have 10 geese coming to the same area every day you will have 10-15 pounds of droppings that need to be cleaned up. If it is an area used for outdoor activities, the droppings present a health hazard.
It is estimated that there are 2,000 adult geese in the area. Now that consider that about three-fourths of them are mates (750 pairs), and each pair has five little ones. At the end of the year, you have 5,750 geese. That adds up to 2.1 to 3.1 million pounds of droppings per year. That is a lot to sidestep, not to mention the o clean up.
Having worked full time at two of the city’s golf courses (Jones and Twin Pines), helping at Ellis and Gardener, taking care of Jones Park, Tait Cummins Ballpark and playing golf I have seen the damage and mess an adult goose can do to a golf course, soccer field, baseball field, softball field or park. A goose loves to eat the grass on golf courses, sports fields and parks, leaving numerous piles along the way. Geese don’t care where they make a mess. They don’t care if it’s a baseball field. They don’t care if it’s the base path. They don’t care if it’s marked for soccer. The mess they leave on golf carts, course equipment, golfers’ equipment and athletes’ shoes is a health hazard.
Geese are meant to be in the wild, not in the city. Rounding up the geese and little ones is more humane than watching a family of geese trying to cross Interstate 380 or a busy city street and being hit. This I have personally seen. An adult must be put down as they will return once they can fly again. They can be used for food. The little ones can be relocated and most likely will not come back as they have not flown and will not call this area home.
When a plant, animal, insect or something aquatic is introduced to an area that is not native it can be called an invasive pest. Some can be very destructive to their new environment (gypsy moth, emerald ash borer, rabbits in Australia and Japanese beetles). Many invasive species will out-compete native species, wiping them out (garlic mustard, purple loosestrife, Canadian thistle, Zebra mussels, Asian carp, common carp, buckthorn, European starling and Burmese python in Florida). Some invasive species can be dangerous (Africanized honey bee and red imported fire ants). Some can just be a big nuisance, health hazard and destructive (geese). Some cause damage to turf (Japanese beetle) by killing the grass or digging up the turf. Geese are an invasive pest and need to be handled as one.
• Victor Kies of Cedar Rapids is a retired golf course superintendent.