Group wants City of Denver to reduce Canada Geese population citing public health risk

DENVER -- It’s no secret, Canada Geese have made Denver their home -- and two steps into any park you can see the trail they’ve left behind.

A group of people have created a change.org petition to ask the city to control and reduce the population, now at 20,000 birds. It had not been sent to Denver Mayor Michael Hancock as of Friday evening.

Denver Parks and Rec wildlife experts said the birds have stopped migrating, and that's a problem for the group of people supporting the petition. The petition is also a plan with hundreds of signatures.

“Geese produce a pound and a half to two pounds of poop per day,” said John Gypton, one of the people behind the petition. “We’ve had instances of attacks recently, outside of Wash park.”

Dogs chase after the geese and drivers have to step on the brakes when they frequently cross the street. Mike Zeihler took his dog and kids to the park. He told Denver7 that while the feces problem is an issue, he tries to deail with it as best he can.

“With kids stepping in it and the dogs sometime eating it,” Zeihler.

The City of Denver Parks and Recreation does have a goose management program that includes a remote controlled goosenator to chase off the geese, attempts to relocate them and egg oiling: adding corn oil to the egg keeping it from hatching.

CPW previously had a program where geese relocated to other parts of Colorado and to other states. The program was discontinued in 1999 because the geese were returning. Controlling the population is limited, as the geese are a protected species under the Federal Migratory Bird Act. The act does give authority to other jurisdictions, such as state, city, and county to manage geese within the guidelines of the FMBA. 

Gypton believes officials should step in and do something, because he worries it could become a public health issue.

“There are emerging studies right now that suggest that there are a range, not just one or two parasites or bacterial viral issues associated with it, but pathogens,” said Gypton.

The Denver Parks and Recreation spokesperson said the following in a statement:

“There has not been any documented research to indicate that Canada geese pose a direct threat to human health. DPR works closely with Denver Environmental Health on water quality issues, and they have been very diligent about testing Denver’s waters to keep people safe. DPR employees use a mechanical brush attached to the front end of a driving mower to sweep the pavement and sidewalks in the city park system. In smaller areas, a blower attached to the front of a golf cart is used.”

Other people at the park, like Melanie Yukov, don’t find the feces a problem.

“I think it’s fine. It doesn’t really bother me. I say let them be free,” said Yukov.

Another woman, a jogger, didn’t find the geese a nuisance either.

“They really don’t bother me. Not at this park. I don’t find them messy. I find the trail to be pretty clear,” said Marcia Ammons.

The Denver Parks and Rec spokesperson sent a statement to Denver 7 as they were not available for an in-person interview:

“Canada geese were near extinction in the early 20th century due to habitat loss and market hunting from lack of laws and regulations to protect them.  Shortly after, the federal wildlife agency, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and state wildlife agencies, began a program to re-populate Canada geese in North America.  Breeding populations established themselves in Colorado and became residents.”

For more information about the petition click here.

For more information about Canada Geese and the city and county's efforts click here.

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