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Droppings From Growing Goose Population In Foster City Pose Health Problem For Residents

FOSTER CITY (KPIX) -- Bird droppings from the growing goose population is ruffling more than a few feathers in Foster City. Now City Hall is getting involved but not everyone agrees on the solution.

Lawmakers unanimously voted to allow non-lethal and lethal options to control the goose population that has doubled during the pandemic.

"So it's about controlling the population, mitigating the population, not eliminating or eradicating the population," said Foster City Vice-Mayor Richa Awasthi who wants to reassure the public they will continue to try non-lethal options first.

But she said it's about balancing the birds, and the residents' health and safety.

The city's goose population is the largest it's ever been: 323 as of June 2021, which is double the amount of June 2020.

But the goose droppings are so bad it's caused unsafe levels of bacteria in the water, and in the past have even forced the closure of some beaches.

There's concern people could get sick with the bird influenza.

"We are nature lovers, we love trees, we love wildlife," said Foster City resident Soumik Saha who said even he thinks the goose population is out of control. There are hundreds of them. Oh my God, the grounds over there are infested with geese poop. It's terrible because when the kids dive, they dive onto the all the poop."

Awasthi said the city has received complaints from residents of goose dropping piling up on lawns, public parks and playgrounds as well as walkways and schools.

"Extremely dangerous, and it definitely poses a health hazard," said Awasthi.

Last Monday, city council members voted 5-0 to allow the mitigation of the geese, first with non-lethal pitons, including changing their habitat and fogging which involves irritating the birds with a safe chemical to discourage them from going into some areas.

Another non-lethal option includes egg addling in which eggs are stopped from hatching, but Awasthi said the results could take nearly a decade.

City leaders also voted to allow the city to apply for a federal permit that would give them the ability to trap and kill the birds, even destroy their nests.

Awasthi said they must prove they've exhausted all other options to get approval for the permit.

"We got some opposition, but I think it's a matter of clarifying that eradication is not our goal," said Awasthi.

Saha said he feels bad for the birds that have decided to make their home in a city and hopes the non-lethal options make a difference.

"No, the lethal doesn't sound good to me, I'm glad that they're trying the non-lethal option," said Saha. "The balance would be to take the geese away and put them somewhere where they belong."

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