Ohio city employs fireworks, lasers to scare geese


COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) — Fed up with feeding geese, Columbus plans to use fireworks and lasers to scare off the birds it says are thwarting the city’s efforts to develop newly widened river banks.

The plan follows unsuccessful attempts to ban the birds using a plastic coyote, fences and foul-tasting chemicals.

The eradication effort will begin shortly before sunset today with the firing of small, noisy fireworks over the Olentangy River.

The rounds, fired from guns similar to those used at track meets, erupt in a bang or with a whistle, said Jeff Pelc, a wildlife biologist at the U.S. Department of Agriculture Wildlife Services.

Teams of two USDA wildlife workers will fire about 100 rounds over the river, near the campus of Ohio State University, every day until December, 30 minutes before and after sunset.

Workers also will beam lasers near the geese, which the birds mistake as predators. About 150 birds remain in the area, hanging out where there’s no room for predators to hide.

The city is paying $100,000 for the work to bolster its efforts to plant grass and other plants along the riverbank, exposed by the demolition of a low-head dam. The project is part of a $7 million plan to restore the river to its natural flow.

The grass and plants are needed to protect the widened banks from erosion.

“It’s a muddy mess down there right now,” Pelc said.

Ohio State officials have warned students and staff about the efforts. The goal is “to avoid confusion and alarm that may be caused by the noise as well as to advise that there will be increased activity along the river corridor,” according to a university announcement.

The city could stop the fireworks earlier than December if plants take hold. Workers can’t kill or capture geese, which are federally protected, without a permit.

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Information from: The Columbus Dispatch, http://www.dispatch.com

 

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