Councilors could be down with fines for feeding geese

A goose in Boston's Public Garden

Winged menace gives you the eye.

Boston city councilors will take a gander at a gaggle of ideas to deal with geese and the crap they leave behind.

At a hearing today, councilors heard suggestions that included fining people who feed them, having parks workers and volunteers coat goose eggs with oil, which kills the chicks but fools the mother goose so she doesn't lay more eggs - and buying more umbrellas for city parks workers with which to find off angry geese when they try to grab the eggs to coat them in oil.

Councilors said it's past time to do something about the non-migrating geese - descendants of geese introduced into the Boston area in the 1930s - because their numbers seem to be going up. At-large Councilor Annissa Essaibi-George, who called for the hearing, said the geese leave a mess behind in city parks and threaten small children and dogs. Councilor Josh Zakim said some of the most mild-mannered constituents has in the Fenway grow near apoplectic when geese come up - and make suggestions on what to do with them that are so brutal and possibly illegal that he said he couldn't bring them up in a public hearing.

"Growing up in Hyde Park, I honestly don't remember this many geese, ever," City Councilor Tim McCarthy added. His neighborhood now has Goose Crossing signs on Turtle Pond Parkway along the Mother Brook.

Emmanuel College now has to send out crews every morning to clean bird crap and feathers off the fields it maintains at Roberto Clemente Park, college Athletic Director Alexis Mastronardi said. Mastronardi, who told the council she suspects the geese moved to the park due to the ongoing Army Corps of Engineers work along the Muddy River, said one day workers collected 30 gallons just of goose feces.

Volunteer groups that take care of the Esplanade and the Public Garden say they are already spending upwards of $24,000 a year to bring in border collies to scare the birds away. Along the Esplande, workers now even deploy little solar-powered towers with night-time lights that mimic the look of glowing predator eyes. The problem, they say, is that the geese are not as stupid as they look and return.

Officials added that really doing something about geese in the Boston area - state officials estimate there are about 8,000 geese within 128 that don't migrate - is a regional issue that will take cooperation between neighboring communities and large land owners, for example, a certain large university with holdings in Allston that may be shooing geese off its property onto neighboring DCR land along the Charles River.

"The Emerald Necklace is just as much a part of Brookline as it is Boston," city Parks and Recreation Commissioner Christopher Cook said.

Officials from groups such as the MSPCA and the Humane Society said that a key anser answer to any effort to reduce goose poop means reducing the number of geese. And since hunting is illegal in Boston, and goose nests are protected by the MBTA - the Migratory Bird Treaty Act - that means an emphasis on "addling," which is the art of coating eggs with oil, which kills the developing chicks, and then slipping the eggs back in the nest, which fools the mother long enough that she doesn't lay a fresh batch of eggs.

Boston park rangers this year addled 425 eggs collected from 80 nests. When asked how much it would cost to expand the program, Cook said the extra costs would be minimal - and mostly for buying umbrellas so that the park rangers can defend themselves from mad geese.

Cook added that park visitors are barred from feeding geese and ducks, but that the city currently has no fines to back that up. City Councilors agreed to look at fines - coupled with "friendly" signs that explain why people shouldn't feed geese. While state wildlife officials said well written signs can work, some officials from local animal groups pooh-poohed their usefulness, pointing out how people keep feeding geese and ducks in the Public Garden.

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    Comments

    other things

    By on

    okay, so they made the 'Simpson's' for the sunscreen dispensers, count that as a feather in the cap. Here's a list of other problems to solve:

    curtailing the noise from the Logan flights over the South End and Roxbury
    solving the bike lane problems, limit 18 wheelers in the city
    advocating for fixing the other MBTA

    any others?

    nice article

    i immediately came in here to squawk about the migratory bird act as i read the blurb about coating the eggs in oil

    but uh, i guess this comment is even more useless than my usual ones

    Useless Comment

    So is there no way of getting a temporary exemption to the MBTA? ("Treaty Act", really?) Egg addling has proven to not be effective. Considering the incredible cost and similar low effectiveness of the dogs, etc., the only real solutions would seem to be fool with the nests or bring out the big guns, so to speak.

    And yes, thank you for the coverage.

    well

    its a treaty because these birds migrate to other countries. so we have an agreement with canada that neither country will mess with these birds because of the impact it could cause in the other.

    i'm far from a save the animal PETA type but i actually think its a pretty decent agreement, tbh

    The geese are not migratory

    I remember reading about them at the Audubon center. They were bred by hunters to attract the real Canada Geese that flew over.

    They are smart and if they don't feel like flying away they won't. They make a lot of noise and look panicked but they're not.

    If you want to get rid of them use their instincts. They recognize people. Kill one or two. With clubs. They will leave.

    yeah uh

    why dont you go out there, club a few, and use that as your defense.

    Nature abhors a vacuum

    We have habitat that is becoming year-round habitat for geese with each passing year.

    Kill all you want - they will make more.

    Reduce the food supply = mess with habitat.

    Well..

    Kill all you want - they will make more.

    If there is one thing Americans are good at, it's killing off a species.

    While I don't think we should aim to endanger geese, eliminating the 8,000 permanent residents and those birds which have become fearless of humans might be a good start. Of course, that will require a change in the MBTA and like all things regarding the MBTA, change is unlikely.

    MBTA

    By on

    Of course, that will require a change in the MBTA and like all things regarding the MBTA, change is unlikely.

    Yeah because you know the MBTA is hard at changing.. both MBTA's :-)

    You make a good point.

    By on

    Reducing the food supply at least stands a chance of getting rid of the year-round inhabitants.

    Also, given the success of the last few wars we've declared on plural nouns (drugs, poverty, crime, Islamic terrorism, etc.), I think the LAST thing we want to do is declare war on the native bird population. Unless you relish the idea of wading through a dozen angry honking geese every time you want to walk to your car.

    The food supply is EVERYWHERE

    By on

    Yes some geese eat food provided by people, but it seems like 99% of their food comes in the form of grass. Unless we are ripping up all the nice lawns in our parks and golf courses, they will always have plenty to eat. Sure, adding a fine for feeding these pests is at least something, but really it's not going to affect the number of birds in any way.

    Happy to see this topic getting some overdue attention.

    Geese really have become a scourge -- not just a nuisance, but a danger. They have zero fear of humans and motor vehicles, and they're aggressive as hell. Not a good combination in a city environment.

    I doubt fining feeders will work, but it'd be good to have it on the books either way. Sounds like boosting the addling/umbrella budget would be a good start. Just happy to see this issue reaching critical mass.

    (While we're at it, can we go after pigeons, too?)

    The City Council is a joke

    By on

    There are fines on the books for letting your dog crap in parks and not picking up after them, and also letting your dogs run off leash. There are many dog owners who let there dogs run off leash, crapping all over City parks and leaving it there so somebody can step on it. I'd be willing to bet the City hasn't collected $500 in the last 2 years!

    Matt O'Malley

    By on

    Being the clown that he is tried to use this as an argument for more dog parks.

    Demanding we respond to our

    By on

    Demanding we respond to our Canada goose migrant crisis with violence and deportation rather than compassion. You bigots are no better than Trump.

    No wonder the TLF is fighting for the liberation of Greater Brookline.

    Feed the homeless

    By on

    Professionally trained archers at dawn.

    We need to drastically cut the geese population, and fining stale-bread throwers ain't gonna do it.

    Is there something that can

    By on

    Is there something that can be fed to them that would sterilize them (if it's not allowable to feed them something that would outright poison them)?

    Re the signs, people have a tendency to ignore typical warning/rule signage. Who actually stops to read the big "NO ___" signs at the entrances to many public parks? They should place succinct, highly noticeable but not obnoxious signs where people are going to see them at the moment they would actually try to feed the geese. (For example, in the line of sight between where the geese would be along the water between a park bench or other place someone would sit/stand to feed the geese.)

    first steps first

    By on

    We should definitely try fining the miscreant goose feeders first. Sterilization seems like too much of a long game to me, and poisoning would likely to be fraught with unintended consequences.

    Or were you talking about City Council?

    you should not be allowed to walk away

    That's what makes me crazy. They dump breadcrumbs and pieces for birds and walk away. Stay!! enjoy the company for the lice ridden creatures that we are training away from their natural role and into parasites.

    Why do we elect these people? smh...

    By on

    Im so happy At-large Councilor Annissa Essaibi-George found an issue to really stand on and she really giving it ago although when contacted around some real issues, she was definitely no use at all! Hmm... I hope the animal rights group get her for tryin to kill the geese! hell I hope the geese get her lol

    Silly but a real issue

    By on

    Geese nesting at or near public parks or near school buildings have been seen by me to not be that nice and have charged small children and teens on school grounds. The left-overs of the feces also leads to unhealthy school areas.

    I've also witnessed clusters (flocks?) waltzing across the Jamaicaway bringing traffic to a halt in both directions which is another safety issue.

    Compounding things is that people often think its cute to feed them, which reinforces the geese' instincts to feel they have a plentiful food source. That does not help of course.

    As to the migratory bird act, this is at the federal level and the city council is powerless to do anything about it, and I'd not expect any federal people to get involved until after the upcoming election.

    On Memorial Drive, a goose

    By on

    On Memorial Drive, a goose was hit by a car, and it is kind of sad to see it happen. The car couldn't stop in time without chancing being rear ended or swerving into the other lane. The dead body was in the road for 2 days before someone moved it to the grass.

    hunt them

    By on

    We need to change the treaty to exclude geese, or at least exclude ones that don't migrate. Then we need to legalize hunting them. Imagine how much money could be made selling the hunting licenses! Just require the hunters to pass a safety class and use short-range weapons in the city, such as bow and arrow or pellet guns. ANd while we're at it, can we open season on pigeons and seagulls?

    A certain demographic in

    By on

    A certain demographic in Cambridge has made it their quest to defend the geese near the river from any type of management effort or landscaping changes.

    Let's hope they don't interfere with this effort in Boston.

    geese

    By on

    Shoot them and feed them to the homeless. Problem solved