By Cameron Rasmusson
When it comes to geese — and more importantly, their poop — the city of Sandpoint has no simple solution.
They come in by the hundreds from month to month seeking the hospitable environment and bountiful grass at the beach. Problem is, they also leave hundreds of pounds of fecal matter in their wake, and it’s an unsightly element of City Beach that is turning off guests. It’s been a consistent source of headaches for Sandpoint Parks and Recreation Director Kim Woodruff, but he said a possible partnership between Sandpoint and Idaho Wildlife Services may mean greener pastures — not to mention City Beach parklands — are around the corner.
“Now I really think we can make a difference,” Woodruff said.
Sandpoint administrators and City Council members discussed in a Wednesday workshop how to send the message that the beach’s feathery guests had worn out their welcome. According to Sandpoint Mayor Shelby Rognstad, he’s received several letters from visitors saying that the sheer volume of goose poop put a serious damper on their beach-going fun. Likewise, guests at local hotels have reported similar problems.
It’s no wonder that tourists find the goose droppings an eyesore. After all, it’s everywhere. On average City Beach attracts 200 geese between February and May, 150 geese between June and July, 100 geese between August and September and 150 geese between October and January. The numbers typically go up in wintertime when winds expose the grass that geese rely on for their diet.
“You can’t blame the geese — they come in by the water and have that smorgasbord happening there,” Woodruff said.
Unfortunately, all that consumed grass turns into goose poop — a lot of it. Each goose can produce up to two pounds of fecal matter per day. While the city deploys grass and sand sweepers to clean the park, it’s a costly operation, and it can never catch everything. Likewise, preventative measures like harassment dogs and dummy coyotes have helped but aren’t a silver-bullet solution. Harassment dogs work well when they and their handlers are on duty but less so when they go home. And while the dummy coyotes at City Beach serve their purpose, some geese are too clever to be fooled.
The good news, Woodruff said, is Sandpoint isn’t alone in battling the pernicious Canadian goose. Idaho Falls grappled with exactly the same problem, and a partnership with Idaho Wildlife Services reduced its goose population to a fraction of what it once was.
Woodruff said he intends to meet with Wildlife Services officials in the near future, which will hopefully result in a capture-and-control program similar to the one utilized in Idaho Falls. Once the details are in place, the Sandpoint City Council will evaluate and approve or deny the partnership.
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