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Plan to kill geese divides Whitley residents

Officials: Baby geese would be banded and relocated to state property

Saturday, June 5, 2010 - 10:44 am

For the inhabitants of Tri-Lakes in Whitley County, the large population of Canada Geese has sparked a controversial decision and a heated debate.

The Tri-Lakes Property Owners Association recently obtained a permit for the removal of the birds, which some feel is a necessary solution to the problems posed by the consistently growing geese population.

“The main issue with these geese is the large amounts of droppings they leave,” Rex Helton of Critter Control said. “The droppings are so severe that some people can't even utilize their backyards or beaches.”

The proposed plan authorizes the capture and euthanizing of the adult geese, which can easily be caught during their molting season, according Helton.

“During this three-week period the geese are flightless,” Helton said, adding that goslings will be banded and relocated to an undetermined, state-owned property.

This decision has not set well with all residents of Tri-Lakes, however. Some have started petitions against it, and a Facebook page with the theme “SQUAWK BACK! Save the Tri-Lakes Geese!” is composed of more than 500 members who adamantly protest the plan.

Roy Sexton, an administrator of the page, currently resides in Michigan, but his parents live in Columbia City and they have taken an active interest against this plan.

Sexton said research he and his supporters have done shows that removal of the geese will not solve the problem and that new geese will populate the area.

Helton, who said he has done many projects like this one before, disagrees.

“Sometimes it takes a few years to reduce the population and see the positive effect,” Helton said. “There will always be some geese, but nothing that isn't manageable.”

When asked what procedures are taken to euthanize the geese, Helton said they follow state guidelines and that it is a humane death.

Sexton suggests using other techniques besides euthanasia to deal with the large geese population that are provided by the Indiana Department of Natural Resources such as enforcing a no-feeding policy, putting string around yards, using scare tactics, destroying nest building attempts and oiling new geese eggs.

“We just can't imagine that this is the best solution,” Sexton said. “The DNR didn't say this was a solution that would work, they just issued the permit.”

Helton said those who think it's inhumane may lack a sense of understanding of the situation.

“From what I see, people who complain most aren't the ones with a backyard full of goose droppings,” Helton said.

The removal plan could be approved sometime this month. The Tri-Lakes Property Owners Association did not respond to e-mails or calls for comment.

“We just can't imagine

that this is the best solution.”

— Roy Sexton, an administrator of the facebook page ‘SQUAWK BACK! Save the Tri-Lakes Geese!'