FOSTER CITY (KPIX) -- Foster City is continuing to deal with a fowl problem -- water fowl. City leaders say the hundreds of Canada geese living in the city no longer migrate, causing problems for residents. Ideas on how to deal with the birds are also making waves.
Ahead of a city council meeting Tuesday, protesters rallied to ask council members to reconsider a plan to euthanize a portion of the more than 300 geese that now permanently reside in Foster City.
"I know this is a really difficult decision for the city to make but we think there's got to be some alternative besides actually killing these poor animals," said Anthony Goblirsch, who lives in San Mateo. He says they are dealing with the same issue at their home and thought it was important to come to Foster City to protest the plan.
The city has been dealing with an over-population of geese for years and has tried a number of ways to control the numbers -- including goose birth control, dog hazing, strobe lights and fencing.
The city says that, despite the efforts, the goose population has basically doubled in the past two years.
"I think they leave a really big mess," said Kathleen Thibault, who was out walking her dog in Marlin Park Tuesday afternoon. "When I walk I always have to dodge the geese droppings and it's pretty messy and unpleasant."
The city says the waste the birds create pollutes waterways and sullies municipal parks.
"I am a big fan of the geese. What I don't like is their geese poop," says Max Nelson, who was out walking with his family.
"There's always conversations about the dog poop out there and you know people don't pick that up, so what's the difference with the geese poop, I guess," said Ashley Weiss, a longtime Foster City resident.
The city council did not take up the issue at its meeting Tuesday night but organizers of the protest say they hope to stop any plans to euthanize the geese before it becomes an action item in the future.
Statement from Austin Walsh, Foster City Spokesman
"The Canada Goose is a migratory bird but, due to the favorable conditions offered locally, has taken permanent residence in and around Foster City. The reluctance to migrate has yielded an unsustainable rate of population growth, with the number of birds in Foster City doubling from 181 in 2020 to 323 in 2021, with indications that figure will tick higher in 2022.
This excessive concentration poses potential health risks to both Foster City residents and visitors/users of our parks and waterways. Lagoon water quality testing regularly shows high e.coli levels partly attributed to goose droppings among other factors, that have resulted in mandatory beach closures. By way of example, last year, Heal the Bay identified three Foster City beaches among the top 10 most polluted in California.
A variety of nonlethal deterrents such as fogging, birth control, dog hazing, strobe lights, egg addling, fencing and other approaches have been explored and/or attempted to mitigate the health hazard posed by Canada Goose droppings, but the success of those efforts has been limited.
With an obligation to maintain healthy waterways and inviting parks, Foster City is considering the lethal removal of a limited number of geese. The lethal option would complement other ongoing nonlethal measures and be applied selectively as a means of population control, not extermination.
No action or decision on the matter has been made, other than the direction to acquire the necessary permits should the City move forward with lethal removal. All community input is welcomed, and residents are encouraged to stay engaged over the coming weeks and months."
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