DALLAS Euthanizing 144 Canada geese from the Gaston County Park in Dallas may have removed what officials called a public nuisance, but it’s causing outrage among some animal advocates.
On Tuesday, the geese were rounded up at the 90-acre park by the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Plant Health Inspection Service.
Gaston County Parks and Recreation Director Cathy Hart said the geese were humanely euthanized.
“I think it was unfortunate, but we have to consider the impact on humans and the risk of disease,” she said Wednesday. “We had lot of complaints.”
Connie Thompson, a volunteer with the Carolina Waterfowl Rescue of Indian Trail, which offered to relocate the birds for free, was “horrified” when she learned they’d been killed.
“I cried,” she said. “It was awful. There’s nothing humane about being harshly rounded up and gassed.”
A single goose produced 1 1/2 pounds of feces per day and the flock of birds was dumping 200 additional pounds of waste a day, according to Hart.
Complaints about unsanitary droppings came from people walking the trails, fishing on the lakes, around playgrounds, athletic fields and restrooms.
“We cleaned it up as best we could,” Hart said. “But we have a small staff, with 20 parks and 30 county properties.”
The geese were year-round residents of the park and their numbers continued to increase. Hart said measures were taken to reduce the birds’ impact. These included ground sprays to discourage the geese, growing grass taller around lakes, asking people not to feed the geese and harassing them with dogs.
But nothing worked, and Hart said the geese continued to graze all over the park.
She said the park department contracted with the USDA to remove the geese at a cost of $1,666. The Waterfowl Rescue organization has been at the park “and we appreciate the work they’ve done with the geese here,” Hart said. “We’ve never denied them access and they’ve been allowed to take as many geese as they wanted. I’m not sure they realized the number that were out here.”
‘They went behind our back’
Jennifer Gordon, executive director of the Carolina Waterfowl Rescue, said the group offered assistance to the Dallas park with the geese issue in May. One of the rescue group’s volunteers said that a park maintenance worker had smashed a Canada goose nest and eggs. The volunteer was “clearly distraught,” Gordon said.
Volunteers went to the park to remove domestic geese and would have removed Canada geese for free if they’d been asked, Gordon said.
Instead, “they (park officials) went behind our back,” she said. “They knew this was in the works the entire time. There was no excuse. They had other options. They were already working with us. But they just went ahead and did it anyway.”
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