Canada geese beginning to flock back to waterfront parks

City will try out harassment plan over the summer

The geese are beginning to come home to roost at Smalley Park and Huckleberry Harbor as Shawano readies its harassment plan against the birds for its first summer of operation.

“It will take the course of the summer to see how effective things were,” said Park and Recreation Director Matt Hendricks.

A large population of Canada geese has been an ongoing seasonal problem for Smalley Park and Huckleberry Harbor, with hundreds of birds congregating at those sites and leaving behind one to two pounds of feces per bird each day.

The geese are slowly beginning to fly back in for the summer now that their young ones are hatching, according to Hendricks.

“We’ve seen them moving back into the parks,” he said.

So far, it’s been small clusters of geese, but it’s expected larger numbers will begin flocking in within the next week or two, Hendricks said.

The Shawano Park and Recreation Commission in April abandoned a plan to round up and euthanize the geese after strong community opposition.

The commission instead opted for a non-lethal harassment plan to drive the geese away.

A number of residents who attended that park and recreation commission meeting said they would volunteer to come out to the parks and assist with the harassment effort.

Shawano sportsman Jeff O’Brien, a vocal opponent of the euthanasia effort, has been organizing the volunteer effort, but, Hendricks said, he has not been in touch with him for several weeks and doesn’t have a volunteer count at this point.

Eventually, a simple calendar would be put together, Hendricks said, that would have volunteers doing walk-throughs of Smalley Park and Huckleberry Harbor during prime geese-gathering hours.

That’s usually around 4-5 a.m. and 9-10 p.m.

The harassment plan includes the use of green lasers, which have been effective at scaring the geese away, though they are only useful when it’s dark.

The lasers will be given to city staff and possibly to some of the volunteers, Hendricks said.

Also part of the plan are coyote decoys to scare the geese, though they will have to be moved around occasionally to be effective.

The plan also includes two pieces that will go to the Shawano Common Council on Wednesday for an ordinance change.

They include prohibiting park visitors from feeding the geese or other wildlife and allowing dogs in some of the parks.

Though the initial intent was to have the dogs scare away geese at Smalley Park and Huckleberry Harbor, the canine welcome mat was broadened to include Sturgeon and Kuckuk parks.

The dogs will have to be kept on a leash no more than 6 feet long, and dog owners will be responsible for cleaning up after the animals.