From afar, they look like an impressionist painting — the blankets of honking, squawking geese that seem to have overrun the ponds and greenery in Greeley parks the past few months.
Greeley officials have noticed, too: There are more geese than normal in the city this year, and they’re here later in the season than usual.
While the city doesn’t track the number of geese that pass through its parks, Greeley parks superintendent Ken Musil said he thinks drought conditions might have kept more geese around for longer this year.
During a hay shortage, it could be that farmers and ranchers who surround the city are baling their hay and corn to use as feed instead of leaving it in the field, where geese can get to it, Musil said.
“Maybe the surrounding area doesn’t have the feed that the geese are used to,” he said.
Jennifer Churchill, spokeswoman for the Colorado Department of Wildlife, said the geese don’t have much of a reason to leave in such a mild winter.
“We have a really plentiful geese situation here,” Churchill said. “A lot of parks struggle with how to manage them.”
In fact, the city of Denver just bought two devices meant to scare away geese in its parks after continuing complaints from residents about the waste they leave behind.
The bright orange remote control boats are appropriately called “goosinators.”
“There are things you can and can’t do” to rid parks of geese, Churchill said.
“You’re allowed to haze the birds away in a way that doesn’t harm them,” she said, but there is a chance the birds will ignore efforts to drive them away if they found a good spot.
“If the negative doesn’t outweigh the positive, the birds are going to be like, ‘We can put up with that,’” Churchill said.
She said geese don’t pose a health or safety risk — the extra numbers pose more of an issue of tolerance.
Musil said the geese haven’t been much of a problem in Greeley, even with all of the extra activity this year.
“We broom the sidewalks more — that’s about it,” he said.
We have a really plentiful geese situation here. A lot of parks struggle with how to manage them... There are things you can and can’t do” to rid parks of geese.
spokeswoman for the Colorado Department of Wildlife