Canadian Geese at Wintersmith Park are not migrating because they’re being fed by park visitors and residents say they are creating a health hazard.
Randy McFarlin, Ada parks and public facilities director, said the geese are juvenile male Canadian Geese that come to the area in order to molt.
“While they’re here, they have to have a water supply,” McFarlin said. “What the Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation (ODWC) has told us is that they’ll naturally move on.”
Residents say that’s the problem. They’re not moving on. Instead, the geese have been getting food from area residents, and getting comfortable.
“If you artificially feed them then you hurt the process of them moving on,” McFarlin said.
He said the geese are a protected species and ODWC has told city officials the goose population needs to be managed by getting them back to their natural migration patterns. ODWC previously went as far as gathering Canadian Geese in the area and transporting them to Lake Konawa.
“We have a big problem with folks who want to feed them,” McFarlin said.
The city has posted signs around Wintersmith Park that tell visitors not to feed the geese.
Ada residents who live near Wintersmith Park said they’ve noticed a definite increase in the goose population in the park.
“They’ll come into our yard in packs,” said Vivian Harris, who lives on Scenic Drive. “I’ve seen up to 150 geese at a time. It causes such a mess in the park.”
Harris said goose feces can contaminate soil and give people a lung disease called histoplasmosis.
“The droppings can carry salmonella, which causes diarrhea, vomiting, fever and chills,” she said. “If you have a child and they touch the droppings and touch their mouth with it, they’re at risk of developing giardia, which can cause cramping, diarrhea, fatigue and weight loss.”
Harris said she doesn’t walk her dogs around the park because of the mess.
Renee Hall, another Scenic Drive resident, said she is reluctant to take her grandchildren to the park because of concern for their health. Although she enjoys the animals and natural beauty of the park, the geese and the messes they make can be frustrating.
“I see other varieties of ducks fly in,” Hall said. “They stay for a few days and leave. The Canadian Geese seem not to go.”
“The best thing we can do is encourage them to move on as quickly as possible,” McFarlin said.