Despite objections from animal rights group, city moving forward - WKOW 27: Madison, WI Breaking News, Weather and Sports

Despite objections from animal rights group, city moving forward with geese kill

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Madison plans to move forward with geese kill. Madison plans to move forward with geese kill.

MADISON (WKOW) -- Since 2011, the Madison Parks Department has done what it calls “population management” of Canadian Geese. And this year is no different.

Despite objections from the local animal rights group Alliance for Animals, the city will move forward with the annual geese kill.

“The annual round up that leads to the lethal taking of the geese in our system is a part of our integrated management program related to wildlife total. But in this case specifically, the program tries to balance the needs of humans, the needs of other animals, and obviously the subject species, in this case the Canadian goose,” said Park Superintendent Eric Knepp.

Alliance for Animals Executive Director Mary Telfer believes there's no reason for it, calling the practice inhumane.

“There are plenty of other more humane ways to deter Canadian geese. Oiling the eggs, scaring them, using coyote cutouts,” she said. “Chicago is using an eco-friendly spray on the grass that gives the geese a little stomach ache, but it doesn’t really harm them. And that’s really effective. So there are lots of humane ways that they can deal with the geese.”

Knepp said the round up is necessary, not only to control the population, but also to eliminate conflicts between the birds and humans.

“We do harass or haze geese to try to get them to nest in places with lower conflicts. Unfortunately, there are situations where the population is still at a level in conflict zones, or conflict areas that are prone to conflicts that we do use a lethal take to reduce the population to try to maintain balance,” he said.

Knepp knows there's a number of community members that have concerns and are angry about this specific piece of the integrated management plan.

“And I respect and understand that. We don’t take this decision lightly. I see these types of wildlife management choices that involve lethal take to inherently be brought with ethical considerations. We need to really balance a lot of things to make a decision,” he said.

Geese poop is also a significant part of the issue. The bird droppings can effect water and beach quality, as well as damage landscape. Telfer said her group is prepared to help with the problem.

“We will help with whatever it takes. And I told him this. That the alliance has a lot of volunteers. We have 4000 members and will do whatever it takes if he will let the geese live. Just let them be geese. As I said, there’s a tow and collect the machine that isn’t very expensive. We could raise money for that and clean up the goose poop as often as necessary so humans aren’t bothered by it. And I understand no one wants to step in it,” Telfer said.

“There is a concern about letting your kids play there. And frankly that's counter, runs very counter to our goals and missions are of trying to get people out and into nature,” Knepp said.

Telfer thinks there can be a balance between humans and the geese, so the birds won't have to meet their ultimate demise.

“There are some conflicts. Once in a while, people on the bike path will call and complain that the geese are a little too territorial. And the geese live there. But I think that if you were to ask those people, 99% of them would say, 'Well, yes we have a problem with the geese. But we don’t want them killed,'” she said.

According to Knepp, re-locating the geese is not an option.

“One of the common questions is can we relocate them? No we can’t. The Wisconsin DNR doesn’t allow relocation. It’s not a permitable relocation species. So there’s a number of factors for that and why. One of which is their migratory nature. So once they’ve attached to a place, they will most likely come back. So we can’t relocate them,” he said.

The round up is typically done in June or July when geese are mottling and unable to fly. Telfer hopes to convince the city to change it's decision before that happens.

“To see geese round up and have the babies crying for the parent and being put into something that looks like a small refrigerator that's a gas chamber is pretty horrific,” she said.

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