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Milwaukie Riverfront Park is supposed to be a destination spot for people to relax, play and picnic, but local residents report they never see people hanging out on the park’s the grassy lawn.


PHOTO BY: RAYMOND RENDLEMAN - Geese in the bay at Milwaukie Riverfront Park are friendly to humans and will swim up requesting to be fed while being photographed.Instead, dozens of geese flock to the park because it is the perfect feeding ground. The geese intimidate potential visitors, and the results of their feast are the goose droppings now caking the park’s landscape.

Currently, park maintenance puts considerable time and labor into removing the goose poop from the area.

PHOTO BY: RAYMOND RENDLEMAN - Goose poop litters nearly every surface of Milwaukie Riverfront Park, making it essentially unusable for picnickers or sports.The completion of Phase II of the park renovation in May added many amenities. A beach and walking path now connect Klein Point Overlook, constructed in Phase I, and the new parking lot built in Phase II.

“Council and staff have recently completed Phase II of the Riverfront Park, which involved the installation of sod.

There happens to be an unusual amount of geese that have been

roaming the park since completion, and we’ve been hearing many residents asking about what we plan on doing to address it,” said Mitch Nieman, assistant to City Manager Bill Monahan, at a meeting on Monday, June 15, in Milwaukie’s Masonic Lodge.

The gathering was the first step in brainstorming methods for removing the geese and making the park more welcoming to the human visitors for whom it was built.

Among those in attendance were Milwaukie citizens, representatives from the Milwaukie City Council, Riverfront Task Force, and the city’s Parks and Recreation board, as well as from the Audubon Society of Portland and the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

“No one solution is going to do a lot, this is going to be a long-term problem,” said Matthew Alex from the USDA.

Those hoping that Riverfront Park would be goose-free before the end of the summer left the meeting disappointed. Kristen Grompone revealed that it could take three to five years for geese to permanently leave the park where they have resided for more than five years. Grompone is the president of Geese Guys, a company that aims to professionally and humanely remove geese.

Grompone, Alex and Bob Sallinger, conservation director at the Audubon Society, helped provide an extensive list of possible solutions to the goose problem. They explained that the city eventually will need to pick a handful of tactics to put in practice consistently for Milwaukie to see positive results.

All the experts echoed that the first and, perhaps, easiest step in helping the geese leave Riverfront Park is to post signs asking people to stop feeding the wildlife. Currently, the geese walk up unafraid to park visitors because people have fed them in the past, and they feel safe around humans in the park.

Park maintenance also could consider letting the grass grow longer and turn brown because geese prefer short, green grass.

Another option would be to use paintball markers or green lasers aimed around the geese, not at them. The devices would scare the birds because they resemble signs of a predator. These supplies are relatively inexpensive.

Fencing off areas of the park is a possibility because, at this time of year, chicks cannot fly and adult geese probably would not leave their young on the other side of a fence.

Meeting attendees discussed applying a product called Flight Control Plus to the grass. It upsets the geese’s stomachs when they feed on treated grass.

Alex pointed to Bend as a city in Oregon that Milwaukie can look to for examples of goose removal tactics that worked. In Bend, residents were offered lessons on how to train their dogs to chase the geese and get them to fly away from the park. Sallinger agreed that dogs can be very successful goose chasers, but he advised against using dogs owned by locals because teaching pets to expel other animals does not represent how people should interact with local wildlife. Also, the city would need to obtain a permit, which takes about 90 days from U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, in case a goose was killed accidentally.

These methods are considered short-term or “hazing” tactics that would take place multiple times a day at first, depending on the method, and then eventually only a few times a week.

“For the first few weeks, it won’t seem effective, but eventually the geese will relocate to a site that seems safer,” Alex said.

Other, more extreme, methods include rounding up the geese, then relocating or euthanizing some, giving the birds food containing chemicals that make their eggs unfertile, or “addling” or disturbing the already produced eggs so they will not hatch. However, many in attendance remarked that it seemed too controversial to kill the geese.

“We live along a river, we are lucky to have wildlife, and we have to be somewhat tolerant and set reasonable expectations,” Sallinger said.

The city needs to get the goose population down to a level where the birds and people can both co-habit Riverfront Park. Residents should not expect the geese to be exterminated entirely.

With all these possible solutions, multiple attendees asked, “Do we have any money to spend on the methods discussed now?”

Grompone explained that her company prices services according to the severity of the problem and intensity of the labor. Contracts for removal often span from October through May, which is what her company considers a season’s worth of work. Because hazing can take place multiple times a day, the cost of supplies and labor could add up quickly. Goose removal requires significant fundraising, but the Riverfront Task Force is still looking for money to support Phase III of the park construction.

Another question was, “Does the plan for Phase III of construction need to change to create a less goose-friendly park permanently?”

Alex explained that Riverfront Park currently is designed to be the perfect feeding spot for geese. In the future, a park on the water should have more plants along the shoreline to create an obstacle between the water and the lawn. Phase III of the park could include more native trees and shrubs that disrupt the large, open grass-covered area. Breaking up this space would make the area less appealing to large flocks of geese.

On July 7, the Riverfront Task Force will assist the Milwaukie City Council in reviewing long-term solutions. The parks and recreation board will work with the city council to review short-term solutions on Aug. 4.

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