Reader Staff Writer
It’s no secret that while City Beach is a beautiful and popular location in Sandpoint, it is plagued by a certain foe.
This foe would be the geese — and more specifically, their poop.
Reviews of City Beach online rave about the ample parking space, gorgeous views and sandy shorelines. The biggest complaint? Goose droppings.
“The only bad thing I can say is that the grass areas are full of bird poop! A blanket is a must!” says one review from last summer.
“One word of warning, watch your step on the grass. Tons of goose poop,” reads another.
While the increasing goose population is still a problem at City Beach, the city is using a number of tactics to combat the feces issue. Sandpoint Parks and Recreation Director Kim Woodruff said the city is currently using two pieces of equipment — one for the sand, and one for the grass — to rake up the excrement. The current schedule for the two rakes is Monday, Wednesday and Friday mornings before people tend to use the beach, Woodruff said.
The city has also budgeted $4,000 this summer to pay local man Randy Curless to use his specially trained border collies to herd the geese away from the beach.
While most of the concern regarding the goose poop has to do with keeping the beach aesthetically pleasant, Woodruff said public health concerns are a secondary issue. He said it would take a lot of goose excrement to make public safety a real problem.
“I think if there is extreme concentration, that could be a concern,” Woodruff said.
He said the city has “never had a confirmed report of any water-related issue” caused by the goose poop. Rake equipment will continue to be used on their regular schedule as well as when needed for high concentration issues, and Curless and his dogs will continue to patrol the beach. Curless has no set schedule, because if he did, the geese would get used to the dogs and be more difficult to move, Woodruff said.
“My perception is that we’re actually making some headway with the dogs, but I can’t quantify that,” Woodruff said.
In the three summers he’s been herding the geese, Curless said they have multiplied at a rapid rate. He said there were about 35 geese when he began patrolling the beach with his dogs, but the population has risen to nearly 150 as of this week.
“The tough thing about it is that the city has got a tight budget, so I come down from time to time and try to get them to move off, which we can, but it takes time,” Curless said. “I think (the city does) a real good job.”
He said that even if he and his dogs can get the geese herded, they tend to return to the beach areas by nightfall.
“There’s got to be some kind of answer, because unless we can thin the geese down, in three or four years there will be so many geese the beach will almost be unusable,” he said. “There’s different ways of trying to thin them down. People talk about relocation, but if they can find their way from the south to Alaska, they’ll just come right back.”
Curless said he will continue to herd the geese through August, but often times by the end of the season they’re so smart that they know his vehicle and fly from the grass to the water when he arrives so it’s harder for the dogs to herd them.
“I don’t know what the answer is,” he said. “Sandpoint is really trying hard.”
Curless said he estimates each goose deposits three pounds of excrement per day, which means that with 150 geese inhabiting the beach daily, somewhere near 450 pounds of goose manure is dropped every day. While this is happening over a large area, Curless said the immensity of the situation is still noticeable.