After 14 geese took to Winthrop’s waterfront earlier this summer – leaving their droppings around Norcross Point and raising health concerns among those visiting the area – city officials have hired a pest control service approved to spray chemicals around the waterfront.
The chemicals are intended to repel geese, but after a series of sprays last week, the birds are still not gone for good, said chief executive Peter Nielsen.
The service cost the city $ 675, Nielsen added; and the pest control service, Turf Doctor from Augusta, is now returning for another consultation.
This is just the city’s latest attempt to eliminate the birds, which have left fecal matter on Norcross Point’s walkways and lawns, alarming both city officials and visitors to the area. âThey bring their excrement to this area,â Nielsen said in his first interview on the subject in early July. âYou can’t ignore the health effects of something like this. “
Goose droppings can contain germs such as E. coli and Salmonella, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Once digested, these bacteria can sometimes lead to diarrhea, fever, cramps, urinary tract infections and respiratory illnesses.
To hunt geese, Winthrop first set up fake coyote replicas that have a menacing appearance. Then he posted signs warning people not to feed the geese. And on July 4, he organized a fireworks display which, although independent of the geese, did not have the hoped-for effect of definitively frightening them.
Augusta’s pest control service first applied the repellant at Norcross Point and town beach on July 12.
Turf Doctor did not respond to a request for additional information on the substance being sprayed.
âThey put a spray on the grass which in the mind of geese changes the color of the grass and makes it taste bad,â Nielsen said. âBut they were feeding the next day, Wednesday (July 13); then we only saw them yesterday (Monday) morning.
Turf Doctor is now returning to assess whether further treatment might prove to be more effective, Nielsen said.
Nielsen contacted a man who was considering moving the geese to another beach, he said, but the man ultimately determined that his animal care license would not qualify him for the task.
Nielsen also refused to consider euthanizing the animals. He was Oakland City Manager in 2014, when a flock of geese settled on the city beach on Messalonskee Lake. At the time, the city contacted state and federal wildlife officials, who ended up capturing and euthanizing the offending birds, sparking public outrage.
Nielsen had not agreed to this plan, he said in early July, and “it won’t happen again.” The only thing I don’t want is to hurt animals. There is no greater animal lover than me.
Winthrop public works workers now clean the town’s waterfront twice a week.
Charles Eichacker – 621-5642