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Geese aren't stupid, however. In Fremont they've just moved to nearby golf courses and office parks. But at least the soccer and baseball fields, walking trails and lawns are relatively free of excrement.
"Without predators, this is what happens to any bird population that's well adapted to its habitat," said Eli Saddler, conservation director of the Golden Gate Audubon Society and a Lake Merritt neighbor.
These birds have scarred many of the greenest areas around the lake and drop an estimated 1 Ton of goose poop every 10 days.
"Our goal is zero hatch," said Chuck Canada, Fremont's deputy director of recreation services. "Canada geese are one thing that make Lake Elizabeth a very special place, but our maintenance staff simply could not keep up with the (poop) production."
7/20/07. These birds have scarred many of the greenest areas around the lake and drop an estimated 1 Ton of goose poop . These birds have scarred many of the greenest areas around the lake and drop an estimated 1 Ton of goose poop every 10 days.
At Fremont's Lake Elizabeth, which had a goose population similar to Lake Merritt's, city officials bought a herding dog to chase the birds away from soccer fields and into the lake.
The city also started rubbing mineral oil on the goose eggs. In the past 10 years, only two goslings have hatched at Lake Elizabeth, compared with about 15 a year at Lake Merritt.
Kernighan and Councilwoman Nancy Nadel are hosting a community meeting Thursday to gauge the public's response to goose poop and goose poop abatement measures. City staff, ornithologists and other experts will talk about geese and poop, and the public will be able to submit suggestions.
But discouraging geese on a city by city basis might not be the best way to address the problem, Saddler said. If every city starts coating goose eggs with mineral oil, the species might head back toward extinction, he said.
A ton of goose droppings each week has city looking at pens
Not long ago, the geese were nearly extinct in the Bay Area. But over the last few decades they've gradually replenished their numbers, thanks to international protections, lack of predators and a certain obliviousness to cars, people, pollution, noise, lights, dogs and cats. is expected to double by 2010, from 220,000 to nearly half a million, according to Oakland's Canada Goose Management Study.
Dog hazing is another possibility. Harassing Canada geese is legal as long as the geese are not touched. The city might allow dogs to chase and bark at the geese as a way to discourage them from returning to Lake Merritt.
Downtown Oakland's bucolic nature reserve has such a serious overpopulation of Canada geese which drop about a ton of poop a week on the 122 acre park that the city is considering introducing dogs to herd the geese into fenced enclosures, buying a goose poop Zamboni and spraying the goose eggs with mineral oil to prevent them from hatching.
In addition, park users and bird experts have suggested that the real answer might be coyotes, the primary predator of Canada geese.
The issue is poop. A ton of it. Each week at Lake Merritt.
7/20/07. These birds have scarred many of the greenest areas around the lake and drop an estimated 1 Ton of goose poop . more
"No one's talking about shooting the geese we don't need more gunshots in Oakland," said Jennie Gerard, chief of staff to Oakland City Councilwoman Pat Kernighan. "But people cannot lie down on the lawn because there's so much poop. It's an aesthetic issue. It's gross."
Last week, federal wildlife officials shot two coyotes in Golden Gate Park after they reportedly attacked two pet dogs. Saddler stopped short of saying coyotes should be introduced to Lake Merritt to feast on the geese, but did say that predators already living there should be encouraged.
Another option is to buy a Nature Sweep, a 500 pound vacuum billed as "the natural solution to a natural problem." The Zamboni like tractor collects goose feces and collects them in a hopper for later composting. Oakland will test drive a Nature Sweep next month, Gerard said.
Luke Skywatcher had a successful seven year stint in Fremont before retiring. Because of budget cuts, the city couldn't afford another dog, so it has hired dog consultants specially trained goose herding dogs that come in when the problem's especially bad.
Lake Merritt isn't the only Bay Area spot overwhelmed by the honking, 10 pound fowl. Lake Elizabeth in Fremont, Bishop Ranch in San Ramon, the College of Alameda and nearly anywhere else that provides grass and water are home to ever increasing flocks of Canada geese.
The city's also considering replacing the short grass around the lake with long grass, which the geese don't like as much. Ultimately, the City Council will have to approve funding for any goose poop program in Oakland.
Fremont's anti goose tactics have worked. Since introducing the dogs and mineral oil, the year round goose population has stayed about the same but the migrating population has dropped by nearly 50 percent.
In Oakland, dogs are one option the city is Women Canada Goose Whistler Parka White Outlet Australia considering. The dogs would herd the geese into fenced enclosures that the birds couldn't escape until their feathers grow in.
The primary problem with the Canada geese is the tourist birds. About 250 Canada geese live at Lake Merritt year round, but in the late spring up to 1,400 migrating geese stop at the lake to molt on their way to cooler climates.
When they're molting, or shedding their feathers, the birds can't fly, so they need to stay somewhere with ample grass and algae, their favorite foods, and still water they can waddle into. When their new feathers grow in, around late July, they head south.