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Foster City Mulls Action to Protect Waterfront Fouled by Wild Geese

FOSTER CITY (KPIX 5) -- A messy problem along the Foster City waterfront is becoming a health issue that is forcing city leaders to take a major step towards controlling the local goose population.

Whether waddling along the waterfront or meandering through parks, Canada Geese have made their home in Foster City.

"I just consider them to be a part of the whole landscape of our city," said longtime Foster City resident Ray Rosseau.

The city estimates there are around 320 geese that now live there. City leaders are now considering a plan to reduce that number.

Mayor Sanjay Gehani says the birds themselves aren't the concern; it's the droppings they leave behind.

"It's in our parks, it's in our lagoon system near our beaches, it's in our public walkways. We've got our children coming home from soccer practice rolled up in it. It's a real challenge," he said. "It's a regional issue that's been going on for quite some time."

As the number of geese grows, so does the amount of feces they leave behind. And Gehani says that's becoming a health concern.

"The water samples that are taken at the beaches show there is an increase in E.coli, and one of the accelerants is goose feces," Gehani said.

For many years, Foster City leaders have tried to control the goose population. But the mayor says their various strategies don't seem to be working anymore.

"From addling of eggs to scaring the geese to different parts of the city, working even regionally in trying to do it. But what we're seeing is the goose population is actually exploding," he said. "We're expecting that if we don't do anything at all, they'll continue to increase at double digit figures."

So they're now looking to a more drastic measure. The city plans to acquire a permit for goose depredation, which would allow them to control the population by capturing and killing a portion of the geese.

"This was a really difficult decision for us to consider moving forward in this direction. But I think all of us here on council are placing the health of our community first," the mayor said. "This is absolutely a last-ditch effort out of concern for our children's well being, and the health and safety of our community."

The idea has received mixed reactions from locals.

"I don't understand why we would have to take such drastic action," Rousseau said. "They're beautiful animals, and I just think we should do our best to try and preserve them."

"That's what they do with deer and other animals. I'm not saying I favor that, but there's definitely a problem and not an easy answer," area resident Shawn Mooney said.

"The geese do cause a problem. But, maybe we just need to live with it and be careful with our children," Mary Connelly said. "I think they should try other means. To kill them - it's just not right."

Nothing is set in stone yet, according to the Mayor. The city plans to solicit feedback from the public in the coming weeks and months. He says if they do end up taking this drastic step, it likely wouldn't happen until mid-2022.

"While it's a challenging one, it's one that we must consider," Gehani said. "We're trying to control the population. We're not trying to eradicate it. We're really trying to create a balance between our community and the geese so that we can live in harmony together."

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