An excremental problem: Lachine devises a plan to deal with goose droppings
Montreal borough has hired a company to scare geese away from the waterfront
In some ways, geese are a sign of hope. When they return from the south, you know warmer days are on the horizon.
In other ways, though, geese are a bit of a problem.
For example, the birds love the waterfront in Lachine, with its fresh cut grass to graze on and access to Lac Saint-Louis, said the borough's mayor, Maja Vodanovic. The goose population in the area triples every year.
Canada geese are known for being aggressive. But that isn't the problem, the mayor said.
The issue is that there is poop everywhere.
"In Parc René-Lévesque, the lawn was actually fully covered," she said.
"If you wanted to sit down somewhere, you couldn't sit. And our paths are covered as well, and even if we go and clean, we use water jets, it's omnipresent."
Worried that the abundance of excrement is a health issue, the borough has hired an animal management firm to lightly scare the geese away using loud noises, dogs on leashes and remote-controlled cars.
The contract, worth just over $50,000, was awarded to Artémis, a company that specializes in fauna management.
They will start startling the geese in parks along the water in mid-April and continue until September.
Vodanovic said some citizens don't want to be sidestepping bird excrement while out and about. But others love the geese and goslings, and feed them even though they shouldn't.
Resident Mleue Lindeman said the geese are lovely and calm, and added that the plan to scare them away is ridiculous.
"No pun intended but honestly, who gives a crap? It's geese. Yes, they poop, don't you?"
Lachine isn't the only borough trying out the scare tactics. LaSalle and Verdun are doing the same, Vodanovic said.
But she also said that displacing the birds is not a long-term fix. "If we all just frighten them, they'll just be moving from one place to another, so it will be better but it won't really solve the issue."
One solution, she said, would be to plant different kinds of vegetation along the waterfront to make it harder for them to get to the grass.
Going forward, Vodanovic hopes to get the federal and provincial governments involved in coming up with humane ways to keep the geese at bay.
With files from Sarah Leavitt