South Frontenac Township introducing goose control measures in Sydenham

While associated with Canada the world over, geese can present a lot of issues at public beaches, including the closure of beaches to the public due to E. coli levels in the water. The geese pictured above take a stroll down a floating dock at the Sydenham Point Park on Sydeham Lake in Sydenham, South Frontenac Township. Photo via South Frontenac Township.

Herding dogs and birds of prey are some of the ways South Frontenac Township is aiming to combat the issue presented annually when dozens of geese tend to flock to the Sydenham area.

Specifically, the Township is addressing the issue at Sydenham Point Park, where the beach has often been closed in the summertime due to the presence of E. coli resulting from the large number of geese. Today, Thursday, May 2, 2024, the Township announced that birds of prey and herding dogs will lead the charge on controlling the presence of geese at Sydenham Point Park this spring. These measure, the Township said, aim to “keep geese away and the beach clean and safe so it can remain open this summer.”

“We wanted to get a jump on our geese control measures this year,” said Tim Laprade, Manager of Recreation and Facilities for South Frontenac Township.

“With avian flu in the region, beach closures last summer due to elevated E. coli counts, and the regular risks that come with having geese that can be aggressive where families are gathering and there are day camps for children, we are trying to do everything possible to keep our parks and beaches clean, safe, and open this year.”

Dog trainer Melissa Taliana and Checkmate looking for geese at Point Park in Sydenham. Photo via South Frontenac Township.

According to the Township, the use of herding dogs and birds of prey (which are a natural predator for gulls and birds) are “an effective, humane way to redirect geese from public parks to more naturalized areas.”  The birds of prey being used in these measures come from the Canadian Falconry in Haliburton, South Frontenac said, relaying that the Township has already begun monitoring the area for nests, eggs, and returning flocks and has permits to remove nests and eggs, but none have been found so far.

South Frontenac Township said the use of herding dogs in 2023 for this reason resulted in “some success.”

“We did see a fairly significant decrease in the number of bird droppings at the Point towards the end of the summer. The geese would stay away longer each time the herding dogs came, and it even got to the point where the dog would jump out of the truck and the geese were gone,” Laprade shared.

While residents are welcome to “take a gander” and watch the birds of prey and/or herding dogs at work, the Township emphasized not to interrupt that work. The township also stressed that residents should not feed the geese or wildlife in the area to help with the deterrence measures.

“Feeding geese can make them reliant on humans and make them more aggressive,” said Laprade.

“If they know they have a food source somewhere, they won’t go away, so we’re asking for the public’s cooperation once again to not feed the geese, gulls, or any wildlife on public property.”

Residents can find information on beach water quality on the Kingston, Frontenac, Lennox and Addington (KFL&A) Public Health website. Public Health monitors the water quality at all municipally owned or operated public beaches within the region, South Frontenac said, and noted that monitoring is done weekly from early June until the end of August and includes a visual inspection of beach conditions and testing for bacteria.

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