FOSTER CITY, Calif. - Foster City is moving forward with a plan to control the city's large Canada Goose by potentially culling the birds.
On Monday, the city council voted to pave the way for staff to apply for a depredation permit that could authorize the lethal remove of up to 100 geese. The city is in the process of applying for a permit, but nothing has been granted yet, according to Parks and Recreation Director Derek Schweigart.
"To get one of those permits, we have a US Fish and Wildlife Service and the USDA all recognizing that we have a problem in Foster City," Schweigart said. "We do have what is a potential health hazard here… not only with the bacteria in our water, but access to parks."
In a media release posted on the city’s website, staff said the geese have contributed to "deteriorating Lagoon water quality and other sanitation concerns." They also said the elevated bacteria levels present in the Lagoon are directly linked to the local waterfowl population.
The quiet bayside community has become a go-to spot for hundreds of geese due to the easy access of food, water, and there are virtually no predators. Schweigart said the city has tried fogging, strobe lights, hazing, and removing eggs from nests… but nothing has worked. He said the city is exploring other options like a pilot program to use robots and artificial intelligence to haze the geese in an effort to change their behavior, while keeping the option to kill the birds if necessary.
"It’s a very difficult decision and I can guarantee that the city doesn’t take it lightly," Schweigart said.
The thought of culling the birds has residents split. Opponents to the plan, including the Animal Protection League, said it met with city officials and suggested changing the landscaping of the entire city.
"When you take and land fill an area of the coast that is sheer water fowl habitat and fill it in with condos and airports. We have to give something back and we have to have a little grace about it," Susan Russell, with the Animal Protection League, said.
It remains to be seen whether or not a permit is approved by the U.S. Dept. of Fish and Wildlife, but Schweigart said the city any lethal option would only be used selectively and in conjunction with other nonlethal alternatives.