After more than a decade of scaring Canada geese away from the hills and ponds of Lyman Orchards Golf Course, North Haven resident Alan Kendrix can frighten some of the birds away with a simple voice command.
“I just have to show up and stand on (the edge of) the pond and go ‘hut, hut, hut,’” and the birds take to the sky, said Kendrix, whose business No Geese Today services four local clients in controlling resident goose populations, including the orchards and The Course at Yale in New Haven.
Much of his success lies in his persistence. He makes daily rounds to his clients’ properties, sometimes multiple times a day, with his two trained dogs, Kelly and Bear, the latter of whom doubles as a therapy dog at Masonicare. The waterfowl have learned that should they fail to heed Kendrix’s commands, he’ll take to a kayak and go onto the water with the dogs.
“It has to be an active and ongoing process,” said John Lyman, executive vice president of Lyman Orchards.
“Even walking on the grounds, it becomes a health risk,” Lyman said of the 250 grams of feces the average Canada goose produces a day. “It’s not a pleasant situation for the golfers.”
The Department of Energy and Environmental Protection reports that goose feces can present a health risk to humans, with studies finding pathogens such as listeria, salmonella and e. coli in the droppings.
“You don’t want geese anywhere where people are inhabiting,” Kendrix said. “What I do is minimize the damage that geese do.”
“Alan’s been a very good solution for us,” Lyman said.
Kendrix said that another longtime client of his, Spring Lake Village in Southington, decided to terminate his contract in favor of installing a strobe light at their pond to attempt to relocate the local Canada geese flock at a lower price.
But the goose population at the retirement complex remained high. The residents voted on April 10 to euthanize the birds. A notice and ballot sent to residents cited health hazards posed by the feces as the main reason for the measure.
The president of the village board overseeing the euthanization was not available for comment or to confirm what Kendrix said. Residents have reported that the board had paid a contractor to haze the birds with dogs in the past.
“I think they’re trying to get rid of the geese and, as far as I'm concerned, it's about controlling the geese,” Kendrix said, adding that he focuses on addressing the harm geese do. “With my other accounts, they’re happy.”
Chris Collibee, DEEP communications director, said the permit application received from Spring Lake Village for a roundup of geese is the only one the department has seen in the past two years.
“In terms of roundups versus non-lethal hazings, a roundup is always a last resort and can only be performed after previous hazing efforts have failed,” Collibee said in an email.
“These operations, conducted during the flightless molting period, can immediately relieve an area of nuisance geese,” the DEEP website states. “Geese are herded into portable nets and euthanized, and the meat is donated to soup kitchens and the needy. Many towns in other states participate in round-ups which has shown to be an effective method in reducing their nuisance goose problems.”
The site also says that hazing the geese is among the most effective methods of discouraging geese from nesting, although it must be employed consistently. It also urges residents and businesses to refrain from feeding waterfowl, as it often is the reason geese congregate in an area.
“Feeding often leads to persistent goose problems, particularly in urban areas. It attracts geese to an area, keeps them there, and conditions them to lose their fear of humans,” the website says.