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WI cities face pressure to stop euthanizing geese

Canadian geese in a park
Susan Rydberg/Susan Rydberg - stock.adobe.com
Canadian geese in a park

If you've been to a Wisconsin park recently, chances are you have noticed lots of geese. Their populations have trended upward, and animal rights advocates urge municipalities to take euthanasia off their list of mitigation strategies. Mid-June is considered a key time for cities to carry out elements of their control plans, because that is when geese lose their flight feathers and grow new ones.

Mary Telfer, board president with the Alliance for Animals, said places like Madisonand Mukwonago have turned to lethal options at various points. They round up geese and either euthanize them at meat processing plants or through gas chambers - actions she calls cruel and inhumane.

"These are highly intelligent birds and they have a strong family structure," she contends. "They mourn when they lose a partner or a family member, or an egg."

She added the gas is used for baby geese and results in a traumatic death. The group urges local agencies to stick with other strategies, like habitat modification. Madison officials sad they rely on several non-lethal practices, and euthanasia only as a last resort. Mitigation plans have become prominent as Canadian geese numbers have soared, prompting nuisance concerns.

Telfer explained it is understandable some people are annoyed about navigating bird poop, but added they might not be happy to know about the lethal action sometimes used to keep populations under control.

"I doubt very much - if someone is complaining about some goose poop and they call the park district to say, 'Clean it up' - I can't imagine most people would be okay with this," Telfer said.

Her organization is working with the group In Defense of Animals to sound the alarm over a planned "roundup" this summer in Mukwonago. That process is under the direction of the Phantom Lakes Management District, which could not be reached for comment. Residents who are concerned are urged to contact local officials, with more info at 'AllAnimals.org.' Cities that consider lethal strategies coordinate such efforts with the USDA's Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service.

Mike Moen is a radio news reporter with nearly two decades of experience in the field. He has covered much of the upper Midwest, including Minnesota, Illinois, Wisconsin and the Dakotas. Many of his stories have aired nationally, including several public radio programs.
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