Moncton using flashing lights, fencing to persuade geese to nest elsewhere
There were many complaints last summer about the droppings left behind at Jones Lake and Centennial Park
Moncton, N.B., is hoping to discourage geese from nesting near two popular walking trails in the city's west end.
Dan Hicks, the director of parks operations, said the number of geese at Centennial Park and Jones Lake is increasing.
"The population has grown to such a degree here in the local Moncton area that the goose and human interactions are becoming less friendly," Hicks said.
Last summer, there were complaints about the amount of droppings left on the two trails. Moncton city council agreed to spend thousands of dollars to try and fix the problem last fall.
Hicks said two tactics are being tried.
In Centennial Park, five solar-powered lights are floating in the water around the island. Hicks said the lights, which cost about $500 a piece, will flash at night, at the eye level of a goose.
"They're not a high-powered light by any stretch of the imagination, they're fairly low-powered, but they are just enough of an annoyance that the geese find it difficult to sleep and they will move off to find other locations that are more attractive to a good night's sleep," Hicks said.
Lights are on order for the section of Jones Lake close to West Main Street, where many of the geese gather.
Short fencing has also been set up along that same section of Jones Lake and around the island at Centennial Park. The idea is to separate the land from the water.
"To get the fencing to work appropriately, you have to get it up very early before the geese are finding their nesting sites, which they're starting to do that now ... breaking that ability to have the goose walk into water makes it less desirable for them, so they will choose to nest in other areas," he said.
Hicks said the fencing will be there temporarily, while nesting is happening.
He said the approaches are meant to be passive.
"They adapt the environment so the geese find it less desirable to be there, but they don't harm them really in any way," Hicks said.
While this won't totally eliminate geese from the two areas, he hopes over time, it will lessen the population.
Kimberley Courtney lives in the west end of Moncton and walks at Centennial Park. She disagrees with the fencing around the island.
Courtney said the geese are migratory birds, returning to where they've nested before, and the barrier won't prevent the female geese from flying to the island to nest.
She's worried the eggs will be vulnerable to predators, and said baby ducks will have no way to reach the water. Courtney would like to see the fencing moved off the island, closer to the walking trail.
"I really believe that the alternate solution for the people and the wildlife to coexist is to put the barrier fence in the right spot along the pathway to protect and eliminate the bird droppings and any potential harm to the families, as well as the birding wildlife, and it will reduce the easy access for people to feed them," she said.
Hicks said the city is following the measures recommended in Environment Canada's handbook for Canada geese management and control. And he said staff will be monitoring the animals.
"We don't want to see goslings trapped, for instance, around Centennial Park and where we've set the fencing up on the island is one of their popular nesting areas, we don't want to trap them on the other side of the fence," he said.
"If they've already nested, we'll make sure we keep an eye on that to make sure we don't have any animals harmed in the process."