Cedar Rapids bans feeding geese on public property

First-time violators could be subject to $75 fine; goal is to reduce population, waste

A Marion woman feeds geese at Manhattan Park in Cedar Rapids in June 2012. (Liz Martin/The Gazette)
A Marion woman feeds geese at Manhattan Park in Cedar Rapids in June 2012. (Liz Martin/The Gazette)

The City Council unanimously agreed on Tuesday to impose a ban on feeding geese and other wildlife on public property in the city, in a new effort to manage the overpopulation of geese and so reduce the amount of waste they leave behind.

Those caught feeding will be subject to a $75 fine for a first violation, $150 for a second within a calendar year and $300 for a third within a calendar year.

Daniel Gibbins, the city’s parks superintendent, proposed the feeding ban with fines in recent months, and the measure was approved by the council’s Public Safety Committee last month and sent on to the full council.

Council member Justin Shields, chairman of the Public Safety Committee, on Tuesday said the amount of geese feces in certain parks in the city is a "serious problem" with potential public health ramifications.

"We got to get this under control," he said. Shields said the local population of geese, predominately Canada geese, can get aggressive with people and in the way of traffic.

Council member Ann Poe agreed that the geese "are not wonderful, warm, engaging animals. They’re not always a lot of fun," she said.

Al Weaver, a local Realtor and duck enthusiast, told the council that he was not opposed to the feeding ban, but he thought the fines pretty stiff for the violations. Gibbins noted they are similar to fines for people who violate the city’s leash ordinance for dogs.

Weaver also suggested that the city employ other tactics to control the geese.

Gibbins said the city will continue an annual roundup of geese, which typically occurs in June and which the city has undertaken since 1996. He said the city also continues to expand a program of planting vegetation along bodies of water, which helps keep geese away. But he said a program to oil geese eggs would have limited effect and he said the use of border collies to scatter geese was impractical.

Council member Don Karr said Canada geese were nearly extinct and seldom seen in Cedar Rapids until geese lovers, including his father, worked to bring geese back to the city some 40 years ago.

Karr said the feeding ban was fine, but he suggested both an urban goose hunt and finding a place where youngsters could go to feed geese without breaking the law.

Gibbins said Linn County has venues just outside the city limits of Cedar Rapids where geese can be fed. The liability associated with an urban goose hunt with guns was too great, he said.Gibbins said the city hoped the public would catch on to the feeding ban. He said the goal wasn't to fine children.

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