Using swans to abate goose problem is a bad idea

Tom PinkMichigan Department of Natural Resources Waterfowl and Wetlands Specialist Barb Avers got it right when she told Pennsylvania park officials recently that they had a “bad idea” when they were considering putting mute swans in a park in order to drive Canada geese out. As Avers said, the park would probably be trading one problem for another one.

Mute swans are aggressive. They definitely will drive Canada geese out of their territory, but then what? The swans will nest and bring more of the nasty birds into the park. Sure, they won’t foul the grass and playing fields as much as Canada geese will, but they can do worse. Remember the guy in Illinois who drowned last year when he was attacked by swans in his kayak?

Canada geese can be aggressive, too. Any animal protecting its territory is something to be respected. But introducing more mute swans to solve a Canada goose problem is not a good idea. Better to bring in a company that uses border collies and other dogs to scare geese out of the park, let hunters or park officials use shotguns or firecrackers to drive them out, or round up the honkers and use them in food banks in places where hunting isn’t possible.

I love watching geese as much as I enjoy hunting and eating them. I’m also thankful that I don’t have kids playing sports on the fields and parks where the geese hang out. It’s nasty. The town where I live annually rounds up honkers and moves them out of town, much to the delight of area goose hunters, but it seems to be a temporary solution.

Maybe converting park geese to goose burgers would be better. It would keep the parks cleaner, provide needed food for food banks, and eliminate costly field trips for honkers that need to be shipped out of town.

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