People protest killing of geese

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URBANA, Ill. (WCIA) — Some people in the city are mad at the park district for killing dozens of geese.

They said the district did it without telling anyone and without trying to find a more humane way to do it.

The district voted in May to do a “charity harvest” of the geese. That meant they would be killed and their meat would be given to food pantries. But protestors said there were other ways to control the population.

The group has been protesting regularly, but their message has taken a turn because 175 of the geese they were fighting to save are now dead. “The park district, in my opinion; they really botched the handling of the geese,” said Susan Parenti.

Their killing was approved by the park district’s board last month. “We did keep asking them when it was going to happen and we were not told,” said Viktoria Ford. “All we were asking for was one more year. We were asking for a year to implement some strategies that would help with a regional approach.”

“We’re afraid the park district is going to spread this idea–this culling–that it’s humane and it’s the best way to go about it and this might affect all the geese in the area, the geese at the Japan House. They’re beautiful animals,” said Parenti.

Park district leaders said they have been weighing their options for years and tried other routes to drive the geese away, like chasing them away with dogs, oiling their eggs and using lasers. But it was not enough. “All of the scientists that we talked to really suggested each one of those integrated tools has a purpose, but the charity harvest brings your immediate reduction of the overpopulation,” said Tim Bartlett, Urbana Park District executive director. For them, it was a matter of making the park a place for people to enjoy and the geese were making that difficult. “Having large numbers of geese, really, our experience was…loss of turf, areas get eaten by the geese; we were having soil erosion; the water quality at the lake was being affected.

Park district leaders said it should be at least eight years before they have to consider doing this again. In the meantime, they hope to control the amount of geese without killing them. There are still 35 geese in Crystal Lake Park.

State Public Health and the U.S. Department of Ag handled the killing of the geese. There are limitations on what can be done to control geese populations. For example, in Illinois they cannot relocate them. The Urbana Park District is looking for volunteers to help with managing the geese population.

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