Crystal Lake Goose Management Plan Underway
The number of resident Canada geese that have made Crystal Lake their home in recent years is above a number that is healthy for the lake or for people, according to Derek Liebert, superintendent of planning and operations for the Urbana Park District.
“The geese are diminishing the ecological health of our lake,” Liebert explained.
“Over time a large amount goose fecal matter has been added to the lake. Without remediation, that contributes to a carpet of floating plants such as watermeal and duck weed that are expanding and covering the lake surface. And that same fecal matter is ending up on the Lake House dock, deck, boats, trails and all around places where people gather and eat. There is concern about fecal coliform bacteria contamination of both the lake and the park grounds,” he added.
“While we clean off the surfaces, the geese return again and again and it has become a losing battle,” he said.
“We will never have a zero goose population, and that is not our intent. With whatever we try, the goal is to limit the number of geese at Crystal Lake to a sustainable level, so that we are confident in the health of the lake and no longer have serious concerns for human health related to the goose population.This will take many years of repeated and different approaches,” Liebert said.
As they are a protected species under both Illinois state law and the Migratory Bird Treaty Act, the park district must take care to use only approved goose management tools.
So far the district has installed flashing beacons, used spray deterrents and installed barrier fencing. Starting this spring, there are additional goose management options that will be used by the park district to reduce the overall goose population.
Egg and nest management – Under the supervision of “Wild Goose Chasers”, a company with statewide experience in goose management, goose eggs will be coated in vegetable oil—approved by organizations such as the Illinois Department of Natural Resources, PETA and the Humane Society of the United States—to prevent them from hatching. Reducing the number of geese hatching on the property will slowly reduce the total goose population. The Illinois Department of Natural Resources has issued permits for egg and nest management.
Spray deterrents – Grass will be sprayed around areas where people eat and gather (especially picnic tables, the Lake House) to discourage geese from congregating and feeding in those areas.
Increased used of decoys – principally coyote decoys that will be moved regularly and randomly.
2018 and beyond:
Lake shore naturalization – A lake engineering and access study expected by the end of 2015 will guide the park district in making the lake less hospitable for geese. One way to do this is by replanting portions of the lake shore with vegetation such as tall grasses that geese do not wish walk through.
To find out more about goose management methods, visit http://m.extension.illinois.edu/wildlife/files/IL_WS_Canada_Goose.pdf
Questions should be directed to Derek Liebert or Caitlin Lill at the Urbana Park District Planning and Operations Department at 217-344-9583.