Goose poop, be gone! That's what city council members hope happens under the new ordinance prohibiting the feeding of waterfowl approved at Tuesday’s meeting.
Fines will begin at $50 for being caught feeding geese, coots, and birds in the ponds and parks. The second offense will be $100, and the 3rd offense and thereafter will cost $200 each.
“In order to control a goose population, you need a multi-pronged approach, and one of the things that is proven to help, as part of a formula, is a feeding ordinance, because you'll have it otherwise,” said Councilmember Rod Sinks. “I will support this not because it's the only thing necessary to do, but because it's one of the necessary things to do,” Sinks said.
The Council had been discussing the Canada goose issue since October, including other tactics like lasers and trained scare dogs, and a goose council that included discussions and best practices learned from neighboring cities that also face the same problem.
Geese have been a nuisance in the parks and athletic fields with their aggressive behavior and excrements widespread on park lawns. Residents of the Bay Area have posted reviews on Yelp about geese poop all over Memorial Park, complaining of benches and pavements being covered in geese poop and the stench and diseases it brings.
Though some residents may enjoy the ducks and geese at the park, according to an article published by the Center for Disease Control, “Wild ducks, geese, and shorebirds are the natural reservoir for influenza A virus.”
Four of the 5 council members agreed on the ordinance; Mark Santoro was the exception.
“I think the signs help a little, but I don't think that this ordinance is going to completely stop all feeding,” Santoro said. He also said it will mean more money will be spent eventually on code enforcement to implement the law.
“The people that are feeding the geese are often small children, so you're gonna be ticketing parents for a 7-year-old feeding the geese,” said Santoro.
Santoro also believes it is a good idea children interact with wildlife, yet Councilmember Barry Chang disagreed.
“We need to teach the children the right way to approach the issue,” Chang said. “Not giving the geese the impression that they can get free food from the human, which may not be healthy for them.”