Geese Bomb Beaches

December 31 | 1 Comment

Dogs get a bad rap when it comes to beach side communities. Residents think we do nothing but poop on their precious sandy beaches. I got news for them, we poop on their lawns too.

I’m not worried, we’ve always gotten a poor press from some people but still found our way into the hearts and minds of millions of others.

Geese on the other hand need to be more wary of their actions. There’s already a ‘season’ to hunt them. You’d think the last thing they would want to do is provide a reason to extend the duck hunt.

This next story doesn’t help.

The waterfront is a vast toilet that spans 46 km from Mississauga to Pickering.

Not to humans maybe. But it may as well be to the thousands of Canada geese who daily dump at least 1,360 kg of droppings along the stretch of shoreline.

According to experts, the loose-boweled birds which poop-ulate the Lake Ontario waterfront unload their contents an estimated 10 times each hour.

“Each bird defecates every six minutes and that is approximately … one pound of goose poo every day,” said Carol Guy of the City of Toronto’s Waterfowl Management Program. “You multiply that by 3,000 and it’s a considerable impact.”

It’s Guy’s job to help mitigate the environmental impact of the fowl — and their foul by product — which she said “looks like green pate,” smells “odouriferous,” and resembles the thin tubes of soil from an aerated lawn.

I think you’d agree with me that this would indicate the city needs to do something about this problem. Well, we’re dealing with humans after all, so read on…

But when it comes to keeping the beaches clean, it’s not the geese that have been generating discussion in recent weeks — it’s the dogs.

City councillors recently imposed a pooch prohibition at beaches in a bid to improve water cleanliness at local shores to high-quality Blue Flag standards. They say the dog droppings pollute the water.

But another piece of the city’s Beaches Management Plan is the Waterfowl Management Program. It targets the estimated 3,000 to 5,000 Canada geese that live year-round between Marie Curtis Park, near the Etobicoke Creek, and Rouge Park, at the Pickering border.

“The biggest concern we have right now is the effect it’s having on the E.coli at our swimmable beaches,” Guy said.

And despite efforts to curb the goose population, the birds in southern Ontario are still multiplying significantly, geese watchers say.

With the relocation program, geese are moved by truck from waterfront locations to other parkland. About 1,300 geese were moved away from the waterfront last year, Moro said.

Guy, whose official title is parks supervisor/ sheepdog handler, works with a team of four border collies to discourage the Canada geese from settling along the waterfront.

On a daily basis, she and her dogs — Piper, Roy, Dixie, and Will — patrol 161 kilometres of GTA shoreline and parklands in an effort to send geese packing. She said the dogs will either force them into the air or, during the moulting season when the birds can’t fly, walk them to another location.

“Their whole mentality and their instinct is to go out in a very hourglass-like outrun and go behind the birds and bring them toward the handler,” Guy said. “When that happens the birds, if they’re geese, they’ll fly into the air. Or you can walk them to an alternate location within that site — depending on what your actual goal is.”

“When I first started this program in 1997 alone in High Park, we had in excess of 800 geese,” Guy said. “Now we have between 60 and 80. So it does work.”

Sounds like a great job for a dog. If this were my job I’d make sure to do one thing…never look up.


One Response to “Geese Bomb Beaches”

  1. Odysseus on January 6th, 2010 9:58 pm

    The geese at a local park actually killed all the fish in the lake.  There are now hefty fines for feeding them but no dog jobs came about from it.  They spent millions on a Panda statue but can’t afford a couple of dog treats. Sad isn’t it…

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