Campus Life / Local / Science

What’s up with all the geese?

Canadian geese are federally protected under the Migratory Birds Convention Act. Photo by Shaye Southall.

Canadian geese are federally protected under the Migratory Birds Convention Act. Photo by Shaye Southall.

by Shaye Southall

Have you ever wondered why those black and white looking ducks are all over our campus? They are usually quacking, grazing, flying around the yard, pooping everywhere you turn, and dirtying up our once beautiful campus fountain. Oh, “and the smell” that lingers in the air as you walk to class. Well, the worst part about these birds is, they are federally protected under the Migratory Birds Convention Act. Which means, you can’t go out and just kill them all! I know most of us would probably like to. This bird species is called Canadian geese or the Canada goose.

These geese were once said to be on the verge of extinction until 1962, when a small flock were spotted in Rochester, Minnesota by Harold Hanson, of the Northern Natural History Survey. In 1964, a project involving breeding and restoration of the species took place. By 1981, 6,000 were released at 83 sites in 26 North Dakota counties.

In the years that followed, their population has increased so much that they are considered pests, especially on our campus. They walk along beside you, eat while you are eating, and have relationships as well. That is fine and dandy, but they are taking away the beauty that our campus holds.

Dan Young, Director for Facilities Management at Norfolk State University, has been dealing with this problem for a while now.

“This year we have treated the area three or four times. The product that we use, comes from a grape seed, which is a grape seed extract. That extract is something that will give the geese a belly ache. We put it down in granular form and what happens is, the grass picks it up, the geese eat it and it gives them a stomach ache,” said Mr. Young.

“It’s working, but they move around a lot. They are smart enough to know that when the grass gets taller, we mow it. What happens with product, the potency of the product is really diminished every time we mow the grass,” he said.

This particular product was supposed to last about three months, but due to the large amounts of rain we’ve had, it tends to get washed away. The grass also grows at a higher rate from the rains, which means crews have to cut the grass more often.

Another method of deterring geese is called “The Rock,” which many golf courses use to keep these rude birds off the greens.  Basically, it’s a beam that scans the area about every thirty seconds as the geese roost, which irritates them to point which they can’t sleep causing them to fly away.  NSU has plans to deploy this system, but it’s becoming expensive to deter these geese.

“This grapeseed extract is very expensive, which costs about three times more than the regular chemical kill we use for the weeds. It’s a very expensive process,” Young said.  He mentioned they have to maintain a cost effective and humane way to treat our pest problem, which also involves pressure washing the sidewalks and draining the fountain on a weekly basis to keep our cam