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Gaggles of geese looking to land

URBANA -- Gaggles of geese are making their presence known this spring.
URBANA -- Gaggles of geese are making their presence known this spring. A new approach isn't working quite as well as some had hoped.

Workers installed about a dozen beacons at Crystal Lake Park last winter. They flash at night to scare the birds away.

Derek Liebert, Superintendent of Operations and Planning for Urbana Parks says the beacons worked for awhile last year. He saw the goose population start to take a dip in the fall, but now that spring's rolled around, it looks like they're back in full force.

Ken Welle, assistant professor at UI's College of Zoological Medicine, says he's not surprised. Geese are creatures of habit. When they find a spot they like, they keep coming back.

Welle says, "They're not dumb animals. They will figure out that they're not harming them eventually. It might be a little bit annoying to them, but if the place that they are is desirable enough, they may eventually desensitize to that."

Welle says geese like places where the land slopes into the water, so if you can change the landscape so it's a sudden drop instead, that may deter them from coming back. It's not just for lakes. The same goes for water retention ponds being built in neighborhoods around here. Plus, don't feed the geese. It will only keep them coming back.

There are other ways to humanely get rid of them. Some cities place cutouts of coyotes in parks to discourage geese from landing. There are also fake crocodile heads and fake swans. Geese know swans are extremely territorial, but you have to move the decoys every day so the geese don't "catch on."

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