With significant investment happening in the park in 2020, including shoreline restoration, habitat improvements, water quality improvements, and new recreational amenities such as a boat dock, fishing outcroppings and a new playground, now is the most important time to manage the goose population.
At last count, there are upwards 80 Giant Canada Geese that make the park their permanent residence. Each goose produces over one pound of feces a day and it creates a potential health hazard. Park staff have to frequently clean rental boats, docks, and decks of the droppings. The waste diminishes the water quality in the park, contributes to nuisance algal blooms, is known to cause human illnesses and may be dangerous to individuals with compromised immune systems. During nesting season, the geese may become aggressive when protecting their nests. They also graze heavily on the turf and landscaping in the park which causes extensive erosion.
For several years, Urbana Park District has tried several strategies to manage the impact of geese at Crystal Lake Park:
- Signage discouraging feeding geese
- Beacon lights
- Sprays and repellents
- Predator decoys
- Limited fencing
- Nest and egg management
- Dog and laser hazing
- Habitat modification
The park district considered but has decided not to pursue other management options such as swans, perimeter barrier fencing or sonic propane canisters due to concerns about aggressive behavior, maintaining fishing access, and neighbor noise concerns.
While park district efforts have helped a little, those efforts haven’t solved the problem.
So, Urbana Park District sought public opinion about a Goose Collection and Donation—a “Charity Harvest.” The Illinois Department of Natural Resources and the United States Department of Agriculture Wildlife Services administer and conduct the Charity Harvest program to collect the geese, have the meat processed and donated to a food bank. People can learn more at UrbanaParks.org and see the survey results here.
The goal is not to eliminate the goose population from Crystal Lake Park – the goal is to get the goose population in ecological harmony with the park.
The park district is committed to a balanced ecological system at Crystal Lake Park and is committed to providing a safe and enjoyable atmosphere at Urbana’s oldest park.