Moncton hopes strobe lights in parks will keep geese awake — and away

·3 min read
Moncton hopes strobe lights in parks will keep geese awake — and away
Moncton hopes strobe lights in parks will keep geese awake — and away

Dan Hicks says when Moncton started calculating how many Canada goose droppings per square foot it was seeing around two west end waterways this summer, the city knew it had to do more.

The city's director of parks operations said the goose population has steadily increased in recent years. This past summer, he said the city fielded many more complaints about the birds and what they leave behind on the ground.

The city is considering including thousands of dollars in spending in its 2021 budget to dissuade the geese from staying around Jones Lake and Centennial Park where walking trails have been peppered with goose droppings.

"We hope to see less people tap dancing to try to get through [the trails] unscathed," Hicks said in an interview Tuesday.

Among the options Hicks outlined at a city council committee meeting Monday are testing small floating solar powered lights that will flash every few seconds.

Shane Magee/CBC
Shane Magee/CBC

The strobe lights would bob in Jones Lake and in Centennial Park at the eye level of the geese.

The company that sells them suggests the lights at the eye level of geese will keep them up at night and make them want to go elsewhere.

"It's a strobe light that gives geese insomnia," Hicks told councillors Monday.

The city hopes to test several of the lights next summer. Hicks said the manufacturer says the orange LED lights would be "barely noticeable" to humans.

Fully deploying the lights to cover both waterways is projected to cost about $14,000.

Away With Geese/Submitted
Away With Geese/Submitted

Other options considered include "hazing" the geese with methods like trained dogs and leaving more grass and growth untrimmed along the water's edge so geese don't have easy access to the water.

Another option is using plastic snow fencing around the waterways to block goslings from moving between land and water, deterring nesting around those areas.

The province has installed the fencing around a large traffic circle between Moncton and Dieppe.

Hicks said adding that fencing around Jones Lake could cost about $10,000.

City of Moncton/Submitted
City of Moncton/Submitted

Coun. Charles Leger, whose ward includes the west end, applauded city staff for cleaning up the mess left by geese on a trail in Centennial Park.

"The trail was great, but I think the geese loved it more than the general population did and after a while it was very difficult to walk anywhere," Leger said Monday.

Hicks said the city doesn't expect to eliminate the geese, but a reduction in the "side effects" they leave behind in key areas.

Frank McKenna's Liberal government brought 3,500 Canada geese from Ontario, which didn't want them, to New Brunswick in the 1990s to benefit hunters. Complaints about the birds followed.

Questions about ways to deal with the geese aren't new for the city, though Hicks said the complaints last year led to discussion of ways to address the geese.

Shane Magee/CBC
Shane Magee/CBC

In 2013, the city tried out a "Goosinator." The remote-controlled device costing about $3,500 was used to chase the geese in an attempt to get them to fly away

It didn't work.

"The unfortunate part is they don't fly far. To be successful, you need to do that for a very long period of time," Hicks said.

In 2017, the Atlantic Wildlife Institute removed 79 eggs from the area around the traffic circle after a series of crashes on the road near the Champlain Place mall.

While killing geese was one of the options of Hicks' list presented to council, he said it's not one the city is seriously considering at this point.