City sticking with goose relocation

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The city is moving ahead with a plan to relocate some of the Canada geese at City Beach. (Courtesy photo)

SANDPOINT — The city is holding its ground on a plan to reduce Canada geese at City Beach by trapping and relocating them to Kootenai County.

The city resolved this spring to give some of the geese the bum’s rush after efforts to haze them away from the beach and installing coyote statues to scare them away failed to drive off the geese, which have littered the beach, docks and pathways with excrement.

But some in the community are pushing back against the plan, which they contend is inhumane and unnecessary.

“I believe the attempt to remove the geese is a waste of time and a waste of resources, and ineffective,” city resident Annie Welle told the City Council on June 5.

Bonner County resident Jane Fritz argued the city had not exhausted all the options for running off the geese, such as lights which disrupt the geese’s sleep or planning peppermint. She also maintains the city’s depredation permit is incomplete and vague.

“The capture of 200 geese this summer is just the beginning of this draconian and inhumane plan of action,” said Fritz.

City officials, meanwhile, point to scores of complaints online and elsewhere which declare that the amount of feces is spurning visitors and making the beach unusable.

“The geese have been the most common complaint amongst the 9,000-plus people that we check in,” said Dallas Cox, owner of the Best Western Edgewater Resort.

Amelia Boyd, who chairs the city’s Parks Commission, said thousands have been spent on specialized equipment to rid the grass and sand of goose droppings. The city has also tried to haze the geese with dogs and installed coyote statues to scare them off, but neither approach has made a meaningful difference.

Boyd said one goose is capable of eating up to 4 pounds of grass and leaving 3 pounds of feces per day. Over the course of a 122-day high season, that one goose can leave behind 182 pounds of waste.

Boyd said when that math is applied to 50 or 100 birds, the amount of waste totals 9,100 pounds and 18,200 pounds, respectively,

Supporters of the geese management plan argue the feces is a human health hazards as it contains giardia, salmonella and e. coli. Plan opponents counter that there have been no documentation that anybody has been sickened by coming in contact with the feces.

Boyd, meanwhile, took issue with assertions that the city did not adequately study the issue before formulating a plan. In addition to the failed approaches and countermeasures, Boyd said the matter has been subject to hours of research and discussion by the commission, in addition to workshop with the City Council.

“To say that we did not make an informed decision or that we were rash or hasty in our recommendation is categorically false,” said Boyd.

City Administrator Jennifer Stapleton said there is misinformation being spread that the captured birds will be killed. The birds will be banded and relocated to the Chain of Lakes Wildlife Management Area in Kootenai County.

The city, however, is changing its plan to separate adult geese from their offspring.

“They will not be separated as originally considered and that just shook out today,” Parks & Recreation Director Kim Woodruff told the council.

He also clarified that the plan is not to relocate all of the geese at the beach.

“It’s our intent not to remove all G from the beach, just to reduce the numbers,” he said.

Keith Kinnaird can be reached by email at kkinnaird@bonnercountydailybee.com and follow him on Twitter @KeithDailyBee.

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