The distressing calls of Canada geese blast from loudspeakers. A snow fence winds between expanses of bright green grass and the St. Joseph River. And, coming soon, a company will apply a chemical that makes juicy grass look odd to and irritate Canada geese.
All are new sights and sounds this spring in Mishawaka parks — along with efforts in South Bend and St. Joseph County — to try to ward off Canada geese and their excrement.
Parks leaders in the two cities and the county say they don’t want to round up and kill geese this summer.
Mishawaka parks Superintendent Phil Blasko said his department is trying especially hard to avoid that. The city caught flak from the public after it hired a contractor that gathered and killed 589 geese from the city’s golf course and parks last June, just before Blasko began his job.
Mishawaka set $15,000 aside in its parks budget this year for “animal control” and has already spent roughly half of it on alternatives, Blasko said.
Last year, Mayor Dave Wood had urged parks staff to explore alternatives to having the geese killed, noting that a roundup could be used as a last resort if the public’s health and safety were in peril.
Blasko said this week that “all options are on the table” but added, “I’d like to avoid a roundup.”
Now, just as local goslings are starting to hatch, the parks department is trying several tactics, realizing that there isn’t one “magical” solution, he said. The city’s parks and its Eberhart-Petro Golf Course staff started regularly counting the geese this year to see if their efforts pay off.
So far, he said, the golf course is seeing a lot fewer geese than last year.
“We’re trying to learn,” Blasko said.