Foster City

What to Do With Foster City's Geese Poop Problem? One Idea Ruffles Feathers

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It seems nobody likes the poop they leave behind, but a plan to gas the geese in Foster City has ruffled some feathers.

A city spokesperson said the city has applied for government permits to have a lethal option, but no decision has been made. The group In Defense of Animals (IDA) says it's time to speak up and prevent the birds from being killed.

"Adults can be killed in numerous ways, among them can be putting them into a mobile gas unit where they're gassed to death," Lisa Levinson with IDA said.

The city says the problem is the Canadian geese population doubled from 2020 to 2021 – and is expected to grow even more this year leaving parks and sidewalks full of feces.

Nearly 50 people protested in front of city hall in Foster City, upset over the city’s potential killing of the geese.

“We want the geese to live,” said Fleur Dawes. “We don’t want them to be gassed to death by Foster City. It’s very violent thing to do to these very valuable members of our community.” 

It seems nobody likes the poop they leave behind, but a plan to gas the geese in Foster City has ruffled some feathers. Sharon Katsuda reports.

The city says the geese and their poop are leading to potential health risks, including increased levels of e-coli in the city waterways. 

Some residents have noticed.

“I used to swim out there quite a bit but now there’s goose poop,” said JOhn Farcich. “I decided not to swim, so now I’m doing more running.”

The city also claims it has tried other methods like strobe lights and fencing to shoo them away – but it didn’t work. 

Animal advocates say euthanizing them wouldn’t help either. 

“It’s totally ineffective,” said Dawes. “More geese will come back next year, and the next year. So this is like a money pit.” 

The city said it is requesting permits should they choose the lethal option. And that it would be a limited number of geese. In a statement, it said:

“The Canada Goose is a migratory bird, but due to the favorable conditions offered locally, has taken permanent residence in and around Foster City. The reluctance to migrate has yielded an unsustainable rate of population growth, with the number of birds in Foster City doubling from 181 in 2020 to 323 in 2021, with indications that figure will tick higher in 2022. 

This excessive concentration poses potential health risks to both Foster City residents and visitors/users of our parks and waterways. Lagoon water quality testing regularly shows high e.coli levels partly attributed to goose droppings among other factors, that have resulted in mandatory beach closures. By way of example, last year, Heal the Bay identified three Foster City beaches among the top 10 most polluted in California.

A variety of nonlethal deterrents such as fogging, birth control, dog hazing, strobe lights, egg addling, fencing and other approaches have been explored and/or attempted to mitigate the health hazard posed by Canada Goose droppings, but the success of those efforts has been limited.

With an obligation to maintain healthy waterways and inviting parks, Foster City is considering the lethal removal of a limited number of geese. The lethal option would complement other ongoing nonlethal measures and be applied selectively as a means of population control, not extermination.

No action or decision on the matter has been made, other than the direction to acquire the necessary permits should the City move forward with lethal removal. All community input is welcomed, and residents are encouraged to stay engaged over the coming weeks and months.”

The group supports options such as habitat modification, like planting bushes in the wide open spaces geese like. Predators hiding in the bushes could scare the birds off.

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