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Geese: a growing problem

CHAMPAIGN -- The goose population seems to be soaring and city leaders says they're a problem around retention ponds.
CHAMPAIGN -- The goose population seems to be soaring and city leaders says they're a problem around retention ponds. WCIA-3's Lindsey Gordon talks to a city engineer who says they're keeping all options open to solve it. 

"These geese can eat grass and walk down into the pond, so it's a really good environment for them," said Eleanor Blackmon, assistant city engineer. 

But recently, the city is getting tired of them.

"Yeah, this is a detention pond. It's primarily for stormwater, but it's a significant public greenspace near the center of the city and we didn't build it for the geese," said Blackmon. 

She says it's a problem for two reasons: first because of the amount of droppings they leave behind and second, they can be very aggressive.

"They're intimidating when they're defending their turf or they think you're too close to them," said Blackmon. 

And as for their droppings, "3 pounds of poop per day, per goose," said Blackmon.

She says the city has seen increased maintenance costs trying to keep up with cleaning it off sidewalks, especially at the Second Street Boneyard Detention Pond. 

But there are people who don't mind them there. 

"I enjoy looking at them. I like having them here. It's a nice escape from the city and cars. It's nice to see wildlife," said Rebecca Weiss, a UI student.

Weiss, who has lived here for three years, says she's never seen so many geese around this area. According to Blackmon, one reason the population has really taken off is that they have no natural predator here and many no longer migrate. She says there is only so much the city can do. 

"They're protected, except during hunting season, and there isn't hunting in the city," she said. 
 
She says the Second Street Detention Pond was designed with high grasses, which are meant to deter the geese, but either due to drought, or geese, they need to be re-planted. 

Blackmon says she's researching other methods from introducing swans, to using trained dogs to chase them away.

"We aren't dismissing any option," she said. 

The city is looking to implement a new plan next year.
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