City tackles geese problem with plastic coyotes

There are ducks, geese, and now a couple of new guests on the downtown duck ponds — plastic coyotes.

The city has been trying any number of ways to discourage Canada geese from hanging out on the downton greens, leaving their droppings where people might otherwise stroll.

This is the latest idea, Mayor Ben Blake said this week.

“We’re hoping this will work,” he said.

The city bought the plastic coyotes from the same company that Anthony Vitelli, Foran High School athletic director, uses to supply similar decoys for the fields at Foran. Blake said the idea came from Vitelli, and the program isn’t terribly expensive.

“It’s cheaper than building a wall between Canada and the United States,” Mayor Blake said with a laugh.

The coyotes come from Watch Dog Goose Patrol company, based in Roseville, Minnesota. The decoy is on a spring that gives the dog a live-action and in some winds, it actually appears as if it is running.

“The movement of the dog decoy keeps pests away so you can enjoy your property again,” the company’s website states. “Geese can be extremely messy. Their droppings get tracked indoors and can be a health hazard. After geese have been on the property, no one wants to walk around in their mess.”

The dog/coyote silhouette is 24 inches high and 34 inches from tail to nose. They are weather resistant, so they can stay outside in all weather.

The company says that with proper care the decoys can last three to four years.

City officials have been asking residents for years not to feed the geese and ducks that call downtown Milford home in an effort to lessen their numbers. Recently a local Daisy Scout troop posted handouts at the upper and lower duck ponds downtown to inform people why it’s best not to feed the feathered creatures.

The handout states that feeding the waterfowl creates problems for people and for the birds, creates feeding areas that are filled with droppings and feathers and that are ultimately unsanitary for people.

In 2011 the Milford Health Department started actively trying to dissuade people from feeding the waterfowl, primarily the Canada geese, in the hopes of reducing the size of the downtown Canada geese population.

Measures included dissuading people from feeding the geese, and using landscaping to make the pond areas less attractive to the geese.

“Well-intentioned people often believe that feeding is beneficial to the geese, but it often has negative ecological, environmental and social consequences,” Former Health Director Dr. Andrew Dennis McBride said at the time.

“I hear stories from people who are longtime residents who say they would go out to the duck ponds and have picnics there,” McBride said in 2011. “Now you can’t.”

This past Sunday, two of the plastic coyotes were spinning on the grounds of the duck pond behind City Hall, and there were no Canada geese to be seen in the area, except for two swiming in the pond.

As to whether the decoys will send the Canada geese elsewhere, “time will tell,” said Public Works Director Chris Saley.