A waterfowl controversy; protestors push back on Madison culling geese to control population

Published: Jul. 26, 2021 at 8:30 PM CDT|Updated: Jul. 26, 2021 at 9:22 PM CDT
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MADISON, Wis. (WMTV) - It is a waterfowl controversy. People in Madison and surrounding areas are protesting population control of geese in area parks.

This summer, protestors say the Madison Parks and Recreation Dept. killed around 70 geese at Yahara Golf Course and Esther Beach.

NBC15 News called the parks department. The lead staff member who handles the goose operations is out of the office this week, however, the department confirmed geese were culled this year, but could not say how many geese were killed or what method was used.

Group leaders believe there’s a better way to manage the problem.

“We certainly want an updated waterfowl management plan that reflects today’s health and science,” Kristin Schrank, Vice Pres. of the Board of Dir. for Alliance for Animals said.

Alliance for Animals is a group speaking out against the culling of the geese population in Madison parks. On Friday, the group held a protest alongside other activists outside city hall.

“They’re family-oriented animals, they mate for life, so it makes a big difference, even when one or two geese are killed,” Schrank said.

NBC15 News reached out to the Parks and Recreation Dept. about this. In a statement, the department said the goal is not to eliminate the geese, but to control the population.

According to the department, research shows that overly populated areas of geese could pose health and safety risks, such as disease from bacteria, landscape damage and geese droppings on roads and bike paths.

“I’ve kind of just been moving spots based on where they are,” Christine Nitsch, a beach visitor, said.

Nitsch finds herself somewhere in the middle. She prefers to keep a distance but doesn’t have a problem with the wildlife around her.

“Their poop is everywhere, and it does smell… I’d say that’s the biggest nuisance,” Nitsch said. “Other than that, they really did leave me alone.”

That is what Schrank wants for the geese; for them to be left alone, and for the Parks Dept. to focus on using their non-lethal methods to control geese population, like fences, strobe lights and decoy predators.

“As long as the methods are humane and not cruel, we wouldn’t be opposed to them,” Schrank said.

A spokesperson from the parks department said right now, they do not have plans for culling geese this year. The USDA APHIS assisted the agency with culling.

See full statement from Madison Parks and Recreation below:

“Parks staff, volunteers, and contractors invest a significant amount of work monitoring and using numerous methods to reduce population numbers and regulate goose activity on park lands. In late June of this year we published Goose Management: Numerous Diverse Methods in Action, detailing our Canada goose management methods in Madison Parks. We use an extensive integrated wildlife management plan in managing the Canada Goose population in Madison Parks. We have done so since 2011, when overabundant goose populations and resulting detrimental effects on public safety and environmental and human health were studied and addressed.”

Madison Parks and Recreation

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