New proposal for managing Portland geese: Border collies? - KPTV - FOX 12

New proposal for managing Portland geese: Border collies?

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PORTLAND, OR (KPTV) -

Geese are certainly nothing new in city parks and grassy spots all across the country. But The Human Access Project says they're becoming such a problem in "the bowl" along Portland's Waterfront Park that they're putting together a formal proposal to help manage them.

While it's still very early in the process, the Human Access Project wants to propose a three-year pilot program to Portland's Parks and Recreation Department. Over that time, the Human Access Project would fund raise to pay roughly $15,000 a year to a company called Geese Guys to mitigate the birds through border collies.

"What they want to do is just stare at the geese, make them a little uncomfortable and then the geese want to fly away," president of Geese Guys, Kristen Grompone, said. "So the great part about that is the dog has no interest in touching the geese. The geese are completely safe through this entire process. They think it's a predator and they fly away."

Grompone says geese eat between three and four pounds of grass a day and poop two to three pounds per bird, per day. They also leave behind feathers during the molting season, overgraze the grass in the park, and their waste can be washed into the river, causing a water-quality issue.

In order for the proposal to work, Grompone says the team would have to return to the site several times a day at various times until the geese begin to think there's a predator there at all times and decide to stay away. Grompone said he believes the large group would separate into smaller familial groups of geese that would become less of an impact across the bowl and other city parks.

"We're never going to have zero geese in this park, and nor should we," she added. "They do have a place here, but the biggest thing is that there's balance so that people can use the park and the wildlife can use it, too."

"The idea is this is an experiment for us to see what works in this particular site, and if we find it works, then we can expand to whole waterfront," Willie Levenson of The Human Access Project explained.

A spokesperson for Portland Parks and Rec, Mark Ross, said the department is intrigued by the idea, but that geese are a problem at several sites across the city, and no single solution has worked effectively thus far.

Levenson has been asked to submit a formal parks proposal before the Parks and Recreation Department can consider whether to move forward. Among the many factors to be considered is the cost, at an estimate of $12,500 per year. Ross says that is "a significant amount of money," especially considering five straight years of budget cuts and "$365 million in maintenance needs that are currently unfunded over the next 10 years."

The discussion is still in very early stages, and nothing has been decided at this point, Ross added.

However, if the proposal is approved, Levenson and Grompone hope to start work this fall, with the goal of having the bowl turned around by next summer.

To learn more about the groups involved, visit www.humanaccessproject.com and www.geeseguys.com.

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