City Government

Park Board Slips In Goose Plan

A GUARDIAN EXCLUSIVE
By DAVID R. FRAZIER

Boise’s Park Board voted unanimously Thursday to continue efforts to hire a goose herding border collie with a prison record to help control goose poop piling up in the public parks.

Seems the Idaho Humane Society has offered up a plan to use border collies with a natural herding instinct to harass wayward geese that are too lazy to fly down to California where they can eat rice in the Sacramento Delta instead of grass in Boise parks and cemeteries.

The plan is just a minor modification of an existing program that uses inmates at the Southern Idaho Correctional Institution to train animal shelter dogs to make them (the dogs) more easily adopted. Using only border collies, they would train them to chase geese. Board members expressed concerns that the dogs might not have adequate training because inmates could fly the coop if they trained outside the prison.

Previously there was a dog trained to chase geese at the Warm Springs Golf Course, but she came at a cost of $2000. The new proposal, while not final, would have the Humane Society covering the cost of everything but room and board for the dog at a Park employee’s home. City officials still have to work out details, but it would be similar to the deal the copper dog handlers have.

Harry Krueger, a layman ornithologist and avid bird watcher who runs the website, IDAHOBIRDS.NET cautioned the board there are several species and sub-species of canada goose visiting the parks. He said unless the dogs are trained to read field guides to the birds, they would likely chase ALL birds, even those that should be welcomed in winter months because they head back north in late spring.

Krueger acknowledged the problem with prancing around piles of poop in the public parks and advocated a more labor intensive system of “addling” (shaking) or oiling eggs in nests to prevent hatching. Condoms were not mentioned, but other birth control methods including chemicals were deemed to be too expensive or ineffective.

Commissioner Harvey Neef suggested “Harvesting goose down pillows” to encourage migration to California.

Comments & Discussion

Comments are closed for this post.

  1. maybe the geese could go to Sacramento and talk to the lady who calls the mayor’s hotline every day.

  2. Serendipity
    Feb 19, 2009, 8:06 pm

    I recently made some snide remarks about goose poop in the parks on a local email list–happy to know that now something might be done about it. Basically, there are wayyyyyy too many honkers in our parks and also on our parking lots which warm up under the rare sun.
    There supposedly are other kinds of geese in our parks in winter? Alas, I never saw them, but if they get chased by a sheep dog they might learn some new migration tricks. Like migrate over to Parma and leave our parks alone? Meanwhile,how do the Humane Soc. people know that the honkers won’t get used to the sheep dog routine and just play games with them? One dog per park will just get worn out!

  3. Why not have a little urban hunt? Cabelas could sponsor with discounted camo and shells.

  4. I agree Clancy. Maybe the F&G or Parks and Rec could raise funds to offset budget shortfalls by having special permits. While they are at it, I’m sure most local golf courses would also like the flocks to be thinned down.

  5. I think they should allow hunting/trapping on these geese, of which there are way too many, and then give the cleaned birds to the Food Bank for the poor.

  6. I think you will find that the geese are covered under an international migratory fowl treaty with Mexico and Canada. There is little that can be done to limit their population.
    So! City ordinance forbids dogs off leash in city parks. Result? We are knee deep in goose poop! Solution? Rescind the ordinance in city parks! Result? Geese go bye-bye! Cost to the city? Zip, nada,nyet, nothing! Hello! Hello! Is there ANYONE in city government that thinks???

  7. Grumps ole guy
    Feb 19, 2009, 9:25 pm

    Well, if they are honking maybe they are just horny? Or, perhaps the Parks Department could hire Brandi to teach the geese abstinence only?
    I better quite dogging this before I’m considered just another fly in the ointment. But, thanks Dave, for laying this one on us, you are a good egg indeed to help the city with its recreation program – yes sir, a real feather in your cap.

  8. Says a lot about a person who would consider killing an animal because there precious new Nike shoes got some poop on them. Maybe those of you are advocating killing the geese think we should just pave over the parks thereby discouraging any wildlife from ruining their fun. I mean, how dare those geese land in our parks along our river. The nerve.

  9. It’s a big valley with lots of room. Just have the birds poop anywhere but the parks or golf courses. Have you ever had your balls roll in goose poop?

    The dogs may actually get a goose for a quick snack once in a while. It’ll cut down on the Purina overhead costs.

  10. Nikes are important and need protection as well. Maybe the answer is to transplant some wolves from Lowman, Placerville or I’m sure even the Garden Valley folks would be willing to let go of a pack or two. Just think about it, the wolves would not need any special training, no keeper and certainly the animal rights folks would be happy with nature taking care of herself.

  11. One Voice- The urban hunting comment was somewhat to get the ball rolling. I would support hunting of these urban flocks, under current F&G rules and common sportsmanship ethics. The problem with the parks and golf courses are the predators no longer exist or allowed.

    Cyclops- Protected yes but still allowed to be hunted. US Fish and Wildlife sets the seasons, fees are collected for Migratory Bird Permits and Waterfowl stamps. All monitered by the the IDFG.
    But you are on target for some cheap and easy control. Fish and Game would still have to release owners from harrassing the wildlife.

    EDITOR NOTE–F&G has authority t authorize “depredation hunts.” For non-library types, “an act of attacking or plundering” as the geese (or beavers, deer, elk, wolves) attack grass, grain, trees etc.

  12. Instead of collies, use retrievers. Instead of harassing the birds, they’ll grab ‘em and bring ‘em back to their handlers.
    Free goose BBQ for all.

    I really don’t care if the geese use the lawn for a restroom, but don’t see anything wrong with eating the excess. If God didn’t want us to eat them, he wouldn’t have made them taste so good.

  13. These are all good ideas! Keep em coming.

  14. So OneVoice, if you’re so fond of fecal matter then I guess you won’t mind if I drop mine off on your lawn? Boise City Sewer and Trash bill is getting quite expensive and I really need to save some money.

  15. Blazing Saddle
    Feb 20, 2009, 8:31 am

    Dear Blaze,

    Every time I go where the geese live, I end up with goose doo on my shoe. What should I do.

    Signed, Slippery Shoe and Stinky Too.

    Dear Slippery.

    They are geese. They poop on the lawn, that’s what they do. If you don’t want doo on your shoe, stay safe at home glued to the toob. And, if you think the poo on the ground is bad, beware! They also poo from high in the air, taking dead aim for the part in your hair.

    You might try watching where you step, but thinking you’ll succeed is a very bad bet. About the shoe, your options are two. No doubt about it, you can wash it or chuck it.

    The bigger point is your complaining. You paved over their habitat and you don’t see them whining. So, take a lesson. When you go to the geese’s lair, wear a spare pair, of shoes that is. And keep a eye peeled for the ones in the air.

    Blazing Saddle

  16. GUARDIAN, thanks for jumping on this story. This proposal makes me laugh and causes some concern all at the same time. I too am an avid birder and I enjoy walking in Boise’s parks checking out the birdies. Goose poop looks bad, but it is mostly grass and probably has good fertilizing properties. Honestly, I don’t even dodge it anymore.

    Would they herd the geese into certain areas of the park? Kathryn Albertson Park seems to be more of a nature preserve, so could they heard all the geese from Ann Morrison Park across the street? Julia Davis Park is mostly a mud-bogg this time of year anyway, so what’s the point of scaring off the geese there?

    Those border collies are impressive dogs. It sounds like a decent budget program with the Humane Society taking care of a lot of the costs.

    I thought Team Dave was a progressive Pro-Green and Pro-Nature group. Seems kind of hypocritcal to try and scare off nature when it is inconvenient to Chamber of Commerce winter park pictures.

  17. With the large ponds and marshes in Bloomington, MN we have a geese problem here that’s bad in summer but no goose is stupid enough to be here in winter.
    I cussed out an idiot in my building who was feeding them one summer.

  18. I like the idea of using retrievers on the geese.
    P people
    E eating
    T tasty
    A animals

  19. It is really kind of funny. People, in their perpetual quest for green lawns search the world over for ancient rookeries, which they then destroy in the process of excavating the phosphate. They then ship it back home, put it in multi colored bags, label it “Lawn Pro”, or some such thing, and the people who buy it commonly dispense it, spread, handle it, etc., with their bare hands.

    However, if a bird dispenses the 2009 vintage on the grass, free of shipping and handling charges, where it will, perchance, accidentally touch the rubber sole of a sneaker, it is capital punishment for the benevolent beasts.

    Humans: One of the less rational tacks in the evolutionary box.

  20. Blaze:
    Your post reminds me of a poem I heard years ago (Don’t know why I remember it):

    Birdie, birdie in the sky,
    dropped some whitewash in my eye;
    I’m a big boy, I don’t cry;
    I’m just glad that cows don’t fly.

  21. Roman Pesoir
    Feb 25, 2009, 3:55 am

    The Boise River floodplain once was vital habitat for geese — a resting, feeding stop. Are they suppose to unlearn this instinctive behavior to seek out open space along the river? Does a little goose crap on your shoe make you ball up for fist and curse these beautiful birds? You sound like Boise’s stalwart legion of fogeys and cranks.

  22. Kris Hoffman
    Mar 3, 2009, 4:24 pm

    I would very much like to get my border collie into the program…How can i help?

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