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Canada Geese Overrun Cupertino Park

By Drake Martinet | 25 Oct 2009

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By Drake Martinet
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CUPERTINO— Canada geese have come to dominate the lawns of the city’s beloved Memorial Park. In their Thursday, Oct. 1 meeting, the Cupertino Parks and Recreation Commission took up the unusual problem and discussed goose abatement strategies.

“We have an invasion of geese. They are out there in big groups; they [leave] droppings and kind of bully smaller birds. They also push the ducks around, and people really like the ducks— we need to do something about it.” said Mark Linder, Director of Parks and Recreation.

Reaching an easy consensus, the commission decided to recommend new signs in several languages.

Parks and Recreation commissioner David Greenstein brought the issue to the City Council’s attention after geese droppings disrupted a popular outdoor theater event.

“We were there for Shakespeare in the Park, the one from San Francisco, and all of us were walking around in all this goose—you know what,” Greenstein said. “There we were, eating cheese and crackers—it was just disgusting.”

Masses of Canada geese that started arriving at the well -watered, temperate park several years ago have become too numerous for comfort.

Cupertino’s place between four regional airports amplifies the importance of keeping geese numbers in check. “The bottom line with Canada geese is that they truly are the most hazardous species of bird that poses a threat to aviation.” Richard A. Dolbeer, a USDA wildlife scientist, told “The New York Times” on Oct. 2.

During the meeting, Linder identified a range of possible solutions to the goose problem.

“Improved signage and an ordinance, making feeding the geese illegal would be one option,” Linder said. “The biggest thing the parks maintenance people thought would help was to have an ordinance making feeding the waterfowl illegal, and you could be sited, and pay a fine for doing that.”

He added that there was also a non-toxic product [called No Goose Zone] that could be sprayed on the grass. When used reputedly, lawns become unpalatable to geese and they move on. Linder added, “It does move the geese. It just moves them to Campbell or Sunnyvale; but it does move them.”

Linder also suggested the city consider the services of Goose Busters, a business in the Bay Area that “is essentially a woman with dogs, and the dogs come out and chase the geese.”

Linder stressed that signs would be the cheapest option, as the other solutions require repetition at added expense.

With Linder’s presentation complete, the committee opened the floor for comments.

Commissioner Greenstein took the lead.

“We should really take a step in the right direction,” Greenstein said. But he felt the repeated expense of chemicals or dogs might be overkill at this juncture.

Greenstein said improved signage was his preferred course of action, adding, “the [current] signs say ‘no feeding the waterfowl’, and ‘waterfowl’ is an obscure term.” He explained that Cupertino’s large ethnic minority groups might not understand the existing English signage. “We need to communicate in a way these people [non-English speakers] will understand,” he said.

The commission also recommended that an anti-goose feeding ordinance not be added at this time, because, as Greenstein put it, “We want people to enjoy the park and not have to worry about being cited by the police for something so innocent.”

The Parks and Rec commission will pass their recommendations on to the city council for action at next weeks meeting. Until then, the citizens of Cupertino will just have to watch where they step.

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