Two-hundred and thirty-eight geese and goslings were herded into a chamber and euthanized with carbon dioxide Thursday morning at Mill Creek Park’s Lake Glacier, Lily Pond and Newport Wetlands, a U.S. Department of Agriculture official said.
The final tally came from John Paul Seman, the USDA’s Poland-based assistant district supervisor, who said the carcasses will be dumped in a landfill.
The Mill Creek Park roundup was conducted by the USDA under an Ohio Department of Natural Resources permit.
“They got more today than what I originally expected,” which was about 75, said Laura Graber, the Akron-based ODNR wildlife research technician who issued the roundup and euthanasia permit.
Such permits for roundups for purposes of euthanasia are rare and issued as a last resort after other strategies — such as noisemakers, decoy-predator installation and making eggs nonviable — have been insufficient to solve the overpopulation nuisance problem, she said.
Mill Creek MetroParks will continue to use the other strategies, Graber said.
Within the past 12 months, Graber has issued seven roundup and euthanasia permits in the 19-county area she serves, she said.
“Because of the number of geese and the people feeding them, they’re destroying some of the habitat” through overgrazing and defecation, Graber said.
A kayaker herded the geese and goslings ashore, where they were corralled with hand-held fences and euthanized Thursday, said Samantha Villella, MetroParks community engagement director.
Although the park district announced road closings only in the Lily Pond and Lake Glacier areas, West Newport Drive was barricaded at Sheban Drive for the roundup in the Newport Wetlands.
“It’s unfortunate that it has come to this point,” Dennis Miller, MetroParks executive director, said in a news release.
Thursday’s roundup “should give us more success for nonlethal management in the future,” he added.
Because of possible heavy metals and other contamination, park officials decided not to donate the meat from the euthanized wild geese, the park news release said.
The news release said park officials have received complaints about excessive amounts of droppings from concentrations of geese and about the birds’ aggressive behavior.
The droppings contain E. coli and other potential disease-causing pathogens, the park said, adding that ODNR doesn’t authorize park officials to relocate the geese.
“The month of June is the only time we permit roundups,” Graber said.
She noted that this is the time when the birds are easiest to catch because goslings aren’t sufficiently developed to fly and adult birds also can’t fly because they are molting. By about mid-July, all geese and goslings should be able to fly, she added.
Park officials were fielding numerous telephone calls Thursday, with callers expressing both pro- and anti-roundup sentiments, Villella said.
Villella said she did not know why park officials did not conduct a public hearing on wildlife management options before Thursday’s roundup.
The next meeting of the park commissioners will be at 6 p.m. July 14 at Fellows Riverside Gardens.
The park news release said the public can help reduce contamination, aggression and overpopulation of geese by not feeding them.
“The food normally given is not appropriate for them,” the release said.