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Nature

Geese Mysteriously Stop Migrating, Droppings Pollute Town

Canadian Geese are normally highly migratory birds, flying hundreds of miles every year. So it follows that their feces is typically spread out, but in some parts of Connecticut, geese have decided to stay put year-around. Now their poo is piling up and many are concerned about its impact on the water supply.

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Researchers have found high levels of E. coli in the water supply around Norwalk, CT, which alone is not harmful, but is an indicator of other bacterial problems like salmonella. While the bacteria could be coming from many different places, the goose poo is certainly one of them.

The birds refuse to leave and continue to nest and breed in the area, so the population continues to grow. Their solution? Find the goose nests and “oil” their eggs.

Actually, the Fish and Wildlife Service goes to great care not to harm any geese. It’s more like an early-term abortion, and it certainly is more humane than hunting the birds to lower the population.

Before destroying an egg, officials do a “float test” to determine how far developed the emryo inside really is. Both PETA and the Humane Society of the United States approve of the technique.

If the egg floats floats, then the bird is fully formed and will not be oiled. If it sinks, they oil the egg and put it back in the nest. If they simply destroyed the egg, the birds would produce more eggs to replace it, thus defeating the purpose.

“I think it’s because of that clause that animal rights groups approve of the oiling and are even quite active in the oiling because they recognize that without minimally invasive methods to control the geese population the geese are going to have other issues like over-competition for food and diseases,” said Alexis Cherichetti, senior environmental officer for the City of Norwalk.

As to why the birds stopped migrating, that’s anyone’s guess. Norwalk attributes it to their well-groomed lawns and abundant food supply.

Photo Credit: paper or plastic? on Flickr under Creative Commons License.




One comment
  1. Crys

    I live in middle Ohio and we also have a flock of Canadian geese that stay year round. I don’t think e. coli has become an issue for this area though. There seems to be about 40 geese in our flock and we have dozens of streams and ponds in the area.

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