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Wild goose chase proves successful

May 20, 2002|BY DAN KULIN /Staff Writer

dank@herald-mail.com

Hagerstown's City Park is missing what for years was a common sight - large flocks of Canada geese.

The exodus is no accident.

Since July 2000, the city has paid Goose Vamoose in Frederick County $12,413 to have dogs and a remote-controlled boat chase geese and other birds away from City Park and Pangborn Park, city Assistant Finance Director Ray Foltz said.

The company had some success last year, but Hagerstown Mayor William M. Breichner said this year the impact of the dogs and boat is really noticeable.

"The park looks a lot better. People can walk around without walking and mushing in goose droppings," Breichner said. "I think it's been very successful."

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A few geese remain at the City Park, but not in the numbers of previous years.

"We had some results last year, but it's been much better this year," city Public Works Manager Eric Deike said.

Breichner said that for at least 10 years city officials have been dealing with the hundreds of geese that made City Park home for much of the year. In addition to the mess the geese left behind, the birds ate a lot of the grass at the park.

"The main problem is they destroy the grasses, flowers and shrubs," Deike said.

The geese left patches of dirt where grass once was, he said.

Deike said at one time there were probably more than 1,000 geese and other waterfowl at City Park.

Then the city hired Goose Vamoose to attack the problem. The company used two dogs and a small remote-controlled boat to harass the birds until they left.

Breichner said the dogs, which he believes are border collies, chase the birds into the water and then the remote-controlled boat is used to scare the birds out of the water.

Deike said the dogs leave the swans at the park alone.

Some of the geese that left City Park went to the city's Pangborn Park, so the dogs and boat also did some work there, Breichner said.

Beyond that, "we don't really know" where the geese went, the mayor said.

Foltz said the city has spent $12,053 for the work at City Park and $360 for the work at Pangborn Park, Foltz said.

Breichner and Deike said the city will probably have to continue paying someone to chase away the birds to keep them from returning. But they said it will be needed less and less often.

Deike said in early spring, Goose Vamoose went to City Park as often as twice a day, three or four days a week. Now, the company goes to the park every three or four days, he said.

"I think it's a positive thing we're doing for the park," Deike said. "We're creating a better environment for the human patrons."

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