Muskego collects a gander of geese

Roundup thins population to reduce apparent problems

June 29, 2012

Muskego - The first roundup of geese at Little Muskego Lake was anything but a wild goose chase.

Some 87 geese were rounded up, with experts from the U.S. Department of Agriculture Wildlife Services holding 8-foot-long screens to slowly corral them into a small circle. Then they gathered them up one-by-one and put them into poultry cages.

While some geese are nice, Muskego city officials called for help with getting rid of some of the birds to reduce inherent problems in large goose populations.

Their droppings are largely responsible for closures at Idle Isle beach because of poor water quality, said Craig Anderson, Muskego parks and recreation director. Their droppings also land on boats, piers and yards around Little Muskego Lake.

A surprisingly fast process

The roundup took place at Idle Isle Park. It was amazing how fast the roundup went, Anderson said. They started about 7:10 a.m. and were done about 7:30.

The geese are flightless at this time of year because they are molting, so they don't fly over the 4-foot tall screens, said Chip Lovell, district supervisor with the USDA Wildlife Services.

Even so, a few geese did escape, which is fine with the roundup folks.

"You still want people to see and enjoy geese on the lake," Lovell said.

Fate of those geese

The USDA used to just relocate geese after their capture, Lovell said, but with so many geese in the state now, they are being processed for food instead. The relocations stopped about 10 years ago.

The local geese that were carted off will go to feed needy families after their meat has been tested for lead, mercury, PCBs and the chemical pesticide 2,4-D, Lovell said, noting that the geese have been found to be pretty contaminant-free. In the 13 years of the statewide program, the meat from every goose has been edible, he added.

The state toxicologist and the state health services determine the meat's safety, he said.

Past measures

Muskego's roundup was a last resort after earlier measures to reduce the number of geese failed.

The city has used dogs to scare geese away since 2006, has oiled eggs in nests since about 2002, and is planting tall grass around ponds to discourage geese from landing.

The city even tried spraying the grass to make it taste bad, but that didn't work, Anderson said. Once the numbers are down, those methods might have a better chance.

The Big Muskego Lake District has already held at least one roundup.


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