Editorial: Good solution to goose poop problem

It appears park officials have the goose-poop problem in Drake Park under control, using a method that most everyone — even the geese — can live with.

Congratulations go to Bend Park & Recreation District staff who came up with a mix of nonlethal methods to control the birds’ impact, including the annual relocation of goslings to Summer Lake State Wildlife Area about 100 miles south.

Controversy erupted in 2010 when the district captured and gassed 109 adult geese from Drake Park, then butchered and delivered them to local food banks. The district was seeking to solve the severe problem of goose poop, which was making park use unpleasant, if not hazardous.

While some — including us — thought it a good solution, providing nutritious food while improving park conditions, others were outraged. They complained bitterly, even holding a memorial service for the dead geese to call attention to their cause.

By summer 2011, the district was again considering killing some of the geese but found the population reduced enough that it could avoid that controversial action. It depended instead on hazing, oiling eggs to prevent them from hatching and transporting young birds out of the area.

The removals happen just after the birds have molted and therefore cannot fly. Only the goslings are moved, because adult birds will quickly find their way back, while the youngsters will settle in the new location. Oiling the eggs rather than destroying them prevents the adults from laying more eggs to replace them.

The district moved 58 birds in 2011, 65 in 2012, 41 in 2013 and 53 this year.

Although bird populations vary over short periods of time, park officials estimate about 100 geese live in Bend parks now, down from more than 500 in 2005 and nearly 600 in 2010.

We think there’s nothing wrong with humanely killing wildlife for food, especially when the animals’ population has grown beyond manageable levels.

Still, the park district appears to have found a solution that honors the sensitivities of some of its patrons, while still giving the rest of us the chance to walk in the park without being overwhelmed by goose poop. Good for them.