Lake Norman & Mooresville

Goose Busters drive geese from local park

Taking her 1-year-old daughter to the park wasn't always a relaxing experience for Davidson resident Dana Campbell.

Until recently, during their weekly visits to RooseveltWilson Park in Davidson, Campbell had to put a lot of energy into making sure the park was sanitary.

"(The geese) were really messy, and there was a lot of feces everywhere," said Campbell, recalling how she often had to wipe down the Tic-Tac-Toe game at the park playground before she would let her daughter play.

But during the last couple of weeks, Campbell has noticed that geese - and their droppings - have largely disappeared from the park.

The town of Davidson recently hired a company called Goose Busters II to control the Canada goose population at the park.

The nonlethal program uses a variety of methods to keep the geese away, including border collies, remote control mini-boats on the lake and laser lights.

The program also oils goose eggs in the springtime, preventing them from developing.

"The Canada Geese have become a nuisance," said Operations Supervisor Ron McMillan in a town statement. "They are damaging the landscape, polluting the water, leaving a mess on the walkways, and sometimes frightening people."

Gary Travis, owner of Goose Busters II, said the average goose will produce between one to three pounds of feces a day.

That waste contains at least four or five pathogens that could be harmful for humans, said Travis.

They can also be quite territorial, especially when they're nesting, he said.

But during his visits with his border collie, Mist, the geese population at Roosevelt Wilson Park has significantly decreased, Travis said.

"These geese are coming up to these very public places because they're less likely to encounter their natural predators," said Travis.

"When we bring the dogs back on the property on a regular basis, they start to see the dog as a predator, and it makes them more uncomfortable staying there."

Travis said he will either have his dogs herd the geese or give them what he calls "the eye," when his dogs slowly walk toward the geese and give them a menacing stare.

Should the geese fly onto the water, Travis uses a remote-controlled boat to frighten them. He also uses lasers lights at night to scare geese from landing on the park property.

The program is a lot more humane than others - some of which simply round up the geese and gas them, he said.

Travis said his $900-a-month contract with the town requires at least three visits a week, although he may increase that number should the geese start coming back, he said.

"I want to make enough regular visits so they become uncomfortable being there and don't stick around long."

While residents - including Campbell - said the pond seems a bit barren without the geese there, many said the benefits were worth it.

"Now my daughter can play on the jungle gym. Before, it was kind of gross," she said. "I enjoyed having them around, but it's also a lot cleaner now."