FOSTER CITY, Calif. (KRON) — Foster City officials said they are moving forward with a controversial plan to kill 100 geese because huge flocks are creating health and safety problems for residents.
Foster City is surrounded by several waterways, including a lagoon, that attract Canadian geese. The water quality at local beaches is so contaminated with bacteria that they were declared the dirtiest in California by Heal The Bay’s annual “Beach Bummers” list for 2022.
Scientists who studied water quality samples from hundreds of beaches along California’s coast determined that Erckenbrack Park and Marlin Park’s beaches had the lowest water quality in the state. Geese were partially to blame.
Derek Schweigart, the city’s parks and recreation director, told KRON4, “We did our own lagoon monitoring last year and found out there’s extensive bacteria that’s in our water.”
The city has tried for years to solve its goose problem by using non-lethal methods, including: scaring them off with dogs and lights, putting up fencing, and spraying liquid goose replant on the lawns, Schweigart said. But the birds continue to multiply by the hundreds.
This week, the City Council instructed staff to begin preparing to kill 100 geese. It’s controversial move, to say the least.
Some residents told KRON4 that the culling plan is long overdue. “I’m ok with it. Let’s see how it goes,” resident Brian Hamilton said Wednesday.
Other residents, including Ryan Wistort, say using lethal measures is going too far. “That’s crazy. Seems like a fool’s errand,” Wistort said.
Canada geese are migratory birds, so the city still needs to get permits approved from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. The city has not yet decided who will cull the birds or what method will be used.
Animal rights advocates with the Animal Protection League urged Foster City to continue trying new non-lethal strategies.
“Many of the city’s parks are textbook examples of the biologically degraded landscapes that attract Canada geese in the first place. Mowed turf grass – and little else—next to water provides the clear line of sight geese require for protection from predators,” APL wrote. “The city’s surfeit of turf grass can be revegetated with native plants and its riparian buffers restored wherever practicable – not only for geese, but for a host of wildlife whose habitat has been destroyed. And for humans’ affinity for nature.”