As It Happens

B.C. official uses 'poop zamboni' to clear goose droppings from soccer fields

Mike Hicks, director of the Juan de Fuca Electoral Area on Vancouver Island, bought the machine for $10,000 online using federal gas tax money.

'I call myself a poop buster, not a hero,' says Mike Hicks

Mike Hicks poses with the tow-and-collect machine, which he calls a 'poop zamboni,' that he purchased for the Juan de Fuca Electoral Area in B.C. (Submitted by Mike Hicks)
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A B.C. man who's been using a "poop zamboni" to clean up the goose droppings on his local soccer fields says he's no hero.

"That's what they called me in the newspaper," Mike Hicks, director of the Juan de Fuca Electoral Area on Vancouver Island, told As It Happens host Carol Off. 

"But I call myself a poop buster, not a hero."

What Hicks calls a poop zamboni is, in fact, a tow-and-collect machine. It's made in New Zealand, where it's used to collect horse droppings.

He bought it with $10,000 in federal gas tax money, which municipalities can use for infrastructure and recreation spending.

"I convinced the powers that be that this was recreational equipment, and so they allowed me to get it, and we got it," Hicks said.

"And I didn't really tell anyone until I tried it, because it worked so well. I was worried that it was maybe a scam or something in New Zealand, but it wasn't."

'It works perfect' 

In fact, Hicks says it works like a dream.

He found it while searching for a solution to his town's goose poop problem. He says Sooke's fields are absolutely covered in the stuff, and kids who play sports are getting it all over themselves and tracking it home.

He says there are hundreds of geese on the town's two soccer fields at any given time, and he estimates each one creates about 1.4 kilograms of fresh feces every day. 

I tried it on the rainiest day possible wet fields — wet poop, a fresh motherlode of it, and it swept it up beautifully."​- Mike Hicks, Juan de Fuca Electoral District 

"It's just a mess. You know, if you slide in for a big steal or something, you get up and you're just head-to-toe poop," he said.

"This is the solution as far as I can see, and it works perfect."

Robert Oyler, vice-president of the Sooke Soccer Club, wholeheartedly agrees. It was his club that first dubbed Hicks the "poop hero" on Facebook.

"It's very effective," he told the Times Columnist, which first reported the story. "It's like night and day."

Here's how it works 

The tow-and-collect is attached to an ATV or another small vehicle, and as it moves across the grass, it sweeps up the animal droppings with brushes, and collects it into a hopper.

Hicks says the machine works even on the slickest of goose droppings under the worst weather conditions. 

"I tried it on the rainiest day possible — wet fields, wet poop, a fresh motherlode of it, and it swept it up beautifully," he said.

Asked what Prime Minister Justin Trudeau might think about his tax-funded purchase, Hicks said: "I think he, almost more than anyone, would be delighted. He has two kids that play soccer."

He says he's already been fielding calls from other people looking for info on how to buy one, including a nearby golf course.

"I really hope school boards and municpalities, that they all get one of these things. It is tremendous. It's just tremendous," he said. 

"And to see the parents and the kids' looks on their face when they come to the field and it's clean for the first time in history ... it's really remarkable."


Written by Sheena Goodyear. Interview with Mike Hicks produced by Jeanne Armstrong.

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