GOOSE CREW: Plan to catch, donate Lakeville geese ruffles feathe - KMSP-TV

GOOSE CREW: Plan to catch, donate Lakeville geese ruffles feathers

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The population of Canada geese in one south metro city is growing so fast that leaders are abandoning chemicals and other more modern tactics for a more direct approach to deterring overcrowding.

Calling in the so-called "Goose Crew" is a method that has been around for decades. In fact, dozens of cities, parks and even private property owners have employed it in the past -- but since it's the first time the city of Lakeville is giving it a go, there are a few ruffled feathers.

It may be difficult to tell while the geese are still nesting, but many metro communities have been struggling with overpopulation for years.

"We are trying to do it for the fecal matter issue," Brett Altergott, director of Parks and Rec, explained. "They can go up to 3-4 pounds a day per goose. So, if you have 100, that's quite a bit."

Back in 2011, Antlers Park had to be closed due to bad water quality and E. coli for 7 days. Ever since, Altergott has been trying to deter geese from crowding the popular beach.

"It's not to eradicate them," he insisted. "It's just a smaller number over the years."

Last week, the city voted to try Tom Keefe's services for the first time. He's the only person in the state who is permitted by the DNR to catch and capture geese.

"Basically, we round up geese when they are flightless, which is the middle of June to middle of July," he explained. "The adults lose all their wing feathers for about a month before they re-grow them."

Once the geese are captured, the goslings get processed and donated to a research facility for animal food. The adults are donated to food shelves -- and according to Keefe, they're rather tasty.

Yet, that's the part some people -- including Jeremy Myer and his family -- take issue with.

"There's got to be a way of getting rid of this without killing anything," he contends. "I mean, it's wildlife. Why waste it?"

Keefe says he's heard all sorts of criticism since he started in the early 80s, but he continues to believe that without population control, the geese population would explode from around 15,000 to well over 300,000.

"I actually love Canada geese, and people ask, 'Well, how can you do this?' It bothers me more to have them called rats, with the urban problem," he said. "My job is to manage the population so it's socially acceptable."

Each season, the "Goose Crew" has about 100 customers ranging from city parks to private golf courses, and they've reduced the population by about 120,000 in their history.

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