Lakeside Memorial Park has an ugly problem with geese and goslings.
At Monday’s meeting, the Forest Lake City Council discussed the challenges associated with the waterfowl management. In addition to the mess created on the grass, City Administrator Aaron Parrish said there is a strong correlation with the geese and Forest Lake’s need to chemically treat the beach area for “swimmer’s itch.”
He noted the city is currently utilizing string in certain areas and doing a regular chemical application of “Goose be Gone” to the turf at Lakeside Memorial Park, however, Parrish said those measures have resulted in limited success.
A few options to address management were presented, including evaluating the planting of buffer strips adjacent to the lake; continued chemical treatment of the turf areas; and contracted removal.
The consensus of the council was to choose the least intrusive methods, with no members supporting the killing of the birds.
While the cost would decrease over time, Parrish said removal would mean an ongoing commitment. Another suggestion is that it be lake-wide. Pricing for that proposal would be $3,900 for the mobilization and $9 per gosling and $16 per adult.
Parrish said although the overall numbers are uncertain, he expects at least a few hundred geese to be processed. For every 100 geese (half adults and half goslings) is an estimated $1,200 for the processing fee.
“We didn’t have a good sense of how many geese are out there,” Parrish added.
Processed geese are provided to Minnesota food shelves, he said. Canada Goose Management – the contractor – coordinates the permit process with the Department of Natural Resources.
This expense is not budgeted and would represent a use of general fund reserves, Parrish said. He noted the city did inquire if the Forest Lake Lake Association was interested in participating and at this time they are not.
If the city proceeded with removal, council members inferred Forest Lake could be in the scope of public scrutiny like it was when the orphaned fawns were dispatched earlier this January.
Councilwoman Susan Young questioned how would it be decided which geese are pets and which are wild.
She is aware of the issue at the park, but said indirectly to park board liaison Karen Morehead who was seated in the audience, “You also understand the fluffy gosling thing.”
Councilwoman Jackie McNamara reminded those in attendance that the geese would not be relocated but killed and processed as meat for the food shelf.
Expanding on what Young eluded to, McNamara was hesitant to get on board with the collecting of adults and goslings in people’s yards.
“I’m not sure that would be welcomed in Forest Lake,” McNamara added.
Mayor Chris Johnson asked if members were against the cost for removal or the principal of it.
Councilman Jim DuFour said he favors buffer strips and chemical treatments, plus removal is a big expense and is not a budgeted item. The city can’t afford it, he said.
Young recommended that the park board consider dogs being permitted at LakesidePark. Parrish said that’s a good idea, but the geese will return to their habitat if chased off. And the waterfowl adapt to loud blasts from a propane horn.
McNamara said there are other options on the table aside from removal.
“Wouldn’t it be great if it were an easy fix like that?” she asked about Young’s idea to allow leashed dogs at Lakeside Memorial Park.