Park Districts Get Creative to Scare Geese Away

Decoys help deter the birds from tearing up park land

By Susan Ball
|  Friday, Dec 18, 2009  |  Updated 1:08 PM CDT
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Animals in the Headlines

Naperville Park District

Naperville Park District has created dog cut-outs at one of their golf courses to scare their geese away. These one dimensional canines tend to deceive the birds -- if only for a short time.

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'Tis the season for messy geese.

Every winter, swarms of Canadian Geese flock to empty parks and fields leaving damage -- and a whole lot of droppings -- in their path.  And since these birds are federally protected, Chicago area park districts have had to come up with clever ways to get rid of them.

"This is the third season we have used dog silhouettes as a deterrent for resident geese," said Kevin Carlson of the Naperville Park District.

Carlson, the superintendent of the Naperbrook and Springbrook Golf Courses, says he scatters plywood cut-outs throughout the grounds to keep the birds out.

"Sooner or later the geese tend to figure it out," said Carlson, adding that heavy snows tend to bury the decoys making them less effective.

Meanwhile, the Glenview Park District has begun posting cardboard pictures of coyotes at three of its new baseball fields at Community Park West, the Pioneer Local reports.

"By themselves they don't automatically scare away the geese," Fred Gullen, superintendent of park services, reported to the Park Board in November. "It does keep them a little bit more on edge so it's much easier to shoo them."

A live alternative is being used by Janet Herbert of the Rockford Park District, who employs two specially-trained border collies -- Flash and Jett -- to "herd" the geese away from traffic and into the water.

Other suburban park districts have also opted to use the real deal -- sort of.

Mount Prospect Park District Grounds Manager Daryl Kimbrough says he's placed half a dozen 3-D coyotes throughout Melas Park and nearby soccer fields to keep geese away.  These canines -- equipped with a life-like tail -- blow around in the wind creating the illusion of predatory movement.

But apparently these decoys work a little too well.

"At one point a passerby frantically warned staff to get out of the park because of the danger," Kimbrough said in an email.

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