FOSTER CITY (KPIX 5) – A messy problem along the Foster City waterfront turns into a health problem that forces city leaders to take a major step to keep the local geese population under control.
Whether waddling along the waterfront or strolling through parks, Canada geese have found their home in Foster City.
“I just think of them as part of the whole landscape of our city,” said Ray Rosseau, who has lived in Foster City for many years.
The city estimates that about 320 geese now live there. City leaders are now considering a plan to reduce that number.
Mayor Sanjay Gehani says the birds themselves are not the concern; it’s the feces they leave behind.
“It’s in our parks, it’s in our lagoon system near our beaches, it’s in our public trails. We have our kids coming home from soccer practice curled up in it. It’s a real challenge,” he says. “It’s a regional problem that’s been around for quite some time.”
As the number of geese grows, so does the amount of faeces they leave behind. And Gehani says that’s going to be a health problem.
“The water samples taken on the beaches show an increase in E.coli, and one of the accelerators is goose droppings,” Gehani said.
For years, the leaders of Foster City have tried to control the goose population. But the mayor says their various strategies no longer seem to work.
“From laying eggs to scaring the geese to different parts of the city, even working regionally to try. But what we’re seeing is that the goose population is actually exploding,” he said. “We expect that if we don’t do anything at all, they will continue to climb at double digits.”
So they are now looking at a more drastic measure. The city plans to get a goose looting permit, which will allow them to control the population by capturing and killing some of the geese.
“This was a very difficult decision for us to consider moving forward in this direction. But I think all of us here on the council put the health of our community first,” the mayor said. “This is absolutely a last-ditch effort out of concern for the well-being of our children and the health and safety of our community.”
The idea has received mixed reactions from locals.
“I don’t understand why we should take such drastic measures,” Rousseau said. “They are beautiful animals and I just think we should do our best to preserve them.”
“They do that with deer and other animals. I’m not saying I’m in favor of that, but there is definitely a problem and no easy answer,” said community resident Shawn Mooney.
“The geese do cause a problem. But maybe we should just live with it and be careful with our kids,” Mary Connelly said. “I think they should try other means. To kill them – it’s just not right.”
The mayor said nothing is finalized yet. The city plans to solicit feedback from the public in the coming weeks and months. He says that if they took this drastic step, it probably wouldn’t happen until mid-2022.
“Although it is a challenge, we do have to take it into account,” Gehani said. “We are trying to control the population. We’re not trying to eradicate it. We are really trying to create a balance between our community and the geese so that we can live in harmony with each other.”