Nearly 300 geese will be removed and euthanized this month from two parks in Montgomery County and then become food for the homeless, authorities said.
The effort is being led by Montgomery Parks, which is part of the Maryland-National Capital Park and Planning Commission as part of its geese removal project. It comes as officials strain to deal with the overpopulation of geese at area golf courses, parks, lakes and recreational fields.
One of the biggest issues is the amount of excrement they leave behind.
“The excessive feces they leave, up to one pound daily, is not only unsightly but causes unsanitary conditions around bodies of water, docks, pathways, athletic fields and lawn areas,” said Dave Peterson, a natural resources specialist with Montgomery Parks.
The geese will be taken from Martin Luther King Jr. Park in White Oak and Rock Creek Regional Park near Lake Needwood, east of Rockville. Officials said they will be “humanely euthanized” and then processed for “human consumption.”
The goose meat will be donated to the Maryland Food Bank.
In Maryland, the geese are migratory and resident. Migratory geese typically nest in northern Canada during the summer and come to Maryland in the winter, mainly on the Eastern Shore and around the Chesapeake Bay.
Maryland’s “resident population” of geese were first introduced in the 1930s to the area after being transplanted from the Midwest.
But the geese create a host of problems, wildlife experts said, including damaging shorelines and turf. Vegetation at Rock Creek Regional Park has been harmed. A buildup of feces along the shoreline, boat dock and lawn areas can be found there, officials said.
The geese also been known to tie up traffic. Geese can be spotted frequently trying to cross busy Jackson Road near the Martin Luther King Jr. Park and Beach Drive near Rock Creek Regional.
Montgomery County park officials said they’ve tried various methods to rid area parks of geese, including fencing, using repelling devices and banning people from feeding them. Other areas have used border collies to get the geese to move from areas where they’ve became a nuisance.
While some of the efforts have had limited success, there has “not been sufficient” change at the two parks where the birds will be euthanized, according to park authorities.
County officials said the removal process is being done by a federally permitted wildlife contractor. The geese are expected to be removed this month and into July while they molt their feathers, park officials said.
Similar efforts to control the goose population have been undertaken throughout the region, officials said.
The federal government hired contractors to manage its goose-poop problem outside such agencies as the Interior, Homeland Security and Defense. The geese remain, however.
The region is attractive for the waterfowl in several ways — mild weather, no natural predators and plenty of food. And as Maryland officials point out, “they never leave,” and their numbers have continued to increase.