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Boston Is Covered In Goose Poop and People Are Mad As Hell

Our FOIA request for Boston City Council records revealed a city that's hopelessly entrenched in feces.

by Sarah Emerson
Oct 25 2016, 7:17pm

Canada goose. Image: Flickr/Mibby23

The city of Boston, Massachusetts, founded by Puritan settlers in 1630, is one that's steeped in rich American history. It's seen wars, sieges, and revolutions. But recently, the city has been waging another pivotal battle—the battle against Canada geese and their overwhelming volume of shit.

For at least a decade, Boston has been infested with non-migratory Canada geese. They're in parks, ponds, promenades, and soccer fields, and wherever they go, a hefty trail of oppressive feces follows. Many Bostonians feel they're unable to enjoy the city's public venues, for fear of slipping or wallowing in the birds' poop. Some are also worried about the health risks that might be present, such as exposure to E. coli, Salmonella, and the diarrhea-causing parasite, Cryptosporidium.

Canada goose poop. Image: Flickr/MrTinDC

"A single goose can consume up to four pounds of grass per day and produce as much as three pounds of fecal matter every day, causing little league teams to spend time cleaning fields, dog owners to clean goose feces from their pets' paws, and walkers to walk in the street to avoid fouled sidewalks," wrote Boston City Councilor Annissa Essaibi-George in a hearing order last month.

I filed a Freedom of Information Act request with the Boston City Council, which has been entrenched in the city's poop problems, for complaints and correspondence about invasive Canada geese and their droppings. Most of the documents revealed what anyone could've predicted: that people are sick and tired of their filthy public spaces. But, curiously, many letters also suggested that residents are concerned about the safety and well-being of Boston's Canada geese as well.

Wednesday, October 12, 2016

If you really want to resolve this issue, call Atlantic Goose Management. They spray a solution that geese don't like. Not harmful. We use them to control geese at our development. It works.

Tuesday, October 11, 2016

Dear Vice Chair Linehan,

I have lived on Chandler Pond since 1996 and it is a blissful place to live EXCEPT for the ever-increasing scourge of Canadian geese that make it impossible to even walk around the pond without stepping in their poop. It's not just disgusting; it's a health hazard. I and my husband LOVE animals but the situation at Chandler Pond is truly disgusting. ANYTHING that the City can do to safe this treasure would be greatly appreciated.

Thank you.

Canada geese near Boston's Museum of Fine Arts. Image: Flickr/Lorianne DiSabato

Tuesday, October 11, 2016

Dear Councillors,

Thank you for holding a hearing on geese infestation in our parks and common areas. This is a problem that goes well beyond aesthetics and comfort. *It is simply a matter of public health*. It must be addressed immediately and the only effective way of doing so is to allocate funds for the systematic use of border colliers [sic] to help displace geese flocks to more appropriate wild settings.

Over the years, as the population of geese has increased, the park has ceased to be a place where my children and their friends could go to play games or experience nature. In years past, Science students from the nearby Edson [sic] K-8 School were often seen in the park, collecting water and plants sample. That no longer happens.

Now, we pay property taxes, and they are not low. Don't we have the right to see the City address this problem in a timely fashion? And yet, despite YEARS of efforts such as petitions, meeting with local officials, letters to and phone conversations with Park's staff and City officials, NOTHING has been done so far to rid us from what is veritably a plague.

Several citizens actually raised some ecologically and historically significant issues. For example, one person pointed out that feeding Canada geese encourages them to settle down in residential areas. This is true. In order to deter wild geese from populating urban areas, the Cornell Lab of Ornithology strongly discourages feeding them.

Cornell's bird experts also note that migratory and resident Canada geese are now two distinct populations in North America. The latter group begins nesting at a younger age, and can produce more chicks in a single clutch than their migratory counterparts. Because resident birds are well-fed, safe from predators, and less vulnerable to hunting, they've been hunkering down in the US to the tune of 3.34 million individuals, as of 2005.

Wednesday, September 28, 2016

Councilor Essaibi George

Thank you for speaking up on the problem of Canada geese all over our parks.

They are an unsanitary nuisance, at best. Also, I have seen them interfere with cyclists and pedestrians as they meander across bike paths in an unpredictable and dangerous manner, seemingly without any remaining instinct to protect themselves.

Not to mention of course, the massive amounts of excrement all over every soccer field and park in town.

I whole-heartedly support extirpating, humanely of course, this invasive species.

Friday, September 30, 2016

Hello

Just my opinion in your case but locally we are forbidden to feed these birds and other animals. Various reasons most of which are obvious but one is if these birds get all the food they heed from humans they won't fly south for the winter and then back north again. Why? The prime reason most birds migrate is for food and there is not enough to support them in the winter so they go away. My suggestion amongst the several that you may choose to implement is to fine those persons who feed them a lot...

Another Boston resident also stressed that Canada geese are "protected," which means that non-lethal management methods should be used throughout the city. This is also true, sort of. All species of Canada geese are technically protected under the Migratory Bird Treaty Act, which is a federal law that makes it illegal to kill, harass, trade, purchase, or otherwise harm migratory birds in the US.

However, as stated by the US Fish and Wildlife Service, "if you are a landowner, homeowner's association, public land manager, or local government in the lower 48 states or the District of Columbia, you may be able to register for federal authorization to destroy resident Canada Goose nests and eggs on property under your jurisdiction." It's also possible to obtain a seasonal hunting license for Canada geese in certain states.

Canada geese numbers drastically declined during the early 20th century, with one species, the giant Canada goose, considered extinct in the wild until it was rediscovered in 1963. As a result of overhunting and habitat destruction, the US Fish and Wildlife Service launched a successful program to bolster North America's Canada geese populations in the 1930s.

A mother Canada goose and her goslings near Fenway Park, Boston. Image: Flickr/chipmunk_1

Sunday, October 2, 2016

I am writing the council this e mail as a concerned citizen… Unfortunately the myth being perpetuated stating geese and their droppings are unhealthy for humans and our waterways can be alarming to the public. This can lead to the public supporting "round ups" based on myths. There is zero evidence of geese being a threat to the health of humans and zero research to back these claims.

Geese are magnificent birds that humans have already almost forced into extinction once in history. These birds are also protected, I believe we need to do just that: protect them.

Wednesday, September 8, 2016

I strongly urge the City of Boston to work closely with the Boston MSPCA as well as the local division of Fish and Game to address the issue of City Canada geese at parks… One way is to hire a dog that would chase them on a regular basis to make the living conditions intolerable for them. You can erect statues of coyotes and flags. Be careful when hiring a dog to chase them you must ensure there are no injuries that cannot fly and you must not do this at the time of the year when they having babies. Thank you. PS hunting of coyotes needs to be regulated so the balance of predator and prey level out.

Wednesday, September 8, 2016

This might be of interest to the town parks departments in and around Boston as well as others. Elkhart's cost was $500 for the spray.

I was just reading about geese control and up popped the news on FOX25, NOW at 9, about Boston Parks having a geese problem. Interesting about the use of grapefruit juice to rid parks of the geese. The grapefruit juice spray that a Boy Scout, working for his Eagle Badge, is working with the parks department on a solution that leaves a bitter taste in a goose's mouth and they move on to another area.

In response to one woman's repeated complaints about inadequate signage discouraging people from harassing geese in the James P. Kelleher Rose Garden and Fenway Victory Gardens, councilor Salvatore LaMattina wrote that he must "defer to the Parks Dept. on this," because they believe that "by not feeding the geese they will go away and no longer be subjected to abuse."

Several (hopefully) promising strategies for controlling Canada geese resulted from a Boston City Council hearing on Tuesday, October 11, according to a report from Boston University's Daily Free Press.

One suggestion, presented by the Massachusetts Division of Fisheries and Wildlife's Patricia Huckery, called for the greasing of goose eggs, or "egg addling," which makes them unviable.

"Egg addling… is oiling the eggs with like a mineral or a corn oil, or the other effective technique is creating a pinhole in the shell," Huckery said during the meeting. The Humane Society of the United States endorses addling as a non-lethal way to reduce invasive Canada goose numbers, so long as adult geese aren't harmed or perturbed in the process.

Other ideas involved installing more signage that warns people against feeding the birds. Some simply called for destroying nests, but Jennifer McNeil, a staff sergeant at the Parks and Recreation Department, warned that this would create undue work for people in charge of the task since nests can be rebuilt quickly.

Many also suggested that dogs, specifically border collies, could be unleashed to intimidate the geese, and ultimately discourage them from nesting in public areas. However, a representative of the Parks and Recreation Department said no government resources were available to support such a plan.

"We spend $24,000 a year on chasing the geese with the border collies," said Tani Marinovich, an executive director of The Esplanade Association, a privately funded non-profit where dogs are currently used as an anti-goose measure. "They come three times a day, Monday through Sunday, and they come at different times."

No firm plan has hatched, as of yet. Councilor Essaibi-George said she hopes that schools, neighborhood organizations, and environmental science programs will put their heads together in the meantime.

Good luck, and good riddance, Boston.

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