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Goose hunts helping control nuisance population, official says

ALPENA — City officials has taken steps to get the wild goose population in Alpena control.

They seek out nests and destroy them, uses mannequins shaped like predatory animals to frighten the birds away, and have hosted a trio of goose hunts in the city.

At Monday’s Alpena Municipal Council meeting, Building Official Don Gilmet gave an update on what progress has been made and how the September hunts played out.

Gilmet said a percentage of geese in the city are regulars, while others migrate here. He said the migrant birds showed up later this year, which is an indicator that Alpena is not on the top of their list of places they want to stay.

“The control hunts the previous two years seemed to have had very good effect,” Gilmet said. “Large numbers of geese didn’t show up in the parks until late July into early August. Hopefully, this will help reduce the number of geese that nest in the city and spend all summer along the bike path and parks.”

Gilmet said all of the measures used are intended to discourage the animal from setting up shop at local parks, ballfields, playgrounds and greenspaces, where their feces litter the lawns, sidewalks and bi-path.

Overall, 115 geese were shot in the three hunts this year, Gilmet said. Five hunters hunted at Mich-e-ke-wis Park and eight hunted at the Alpena County Fairgrounds.

Several geese were donated to residents.

While the hunt was ongoing, Gilmet said Alpena Police Department Sgt. Bill Gohl used his boat and patrolled the river to scare the birds off the water, while local volunteer Jerry Hollister and his dog kept the geese off city property at the high school athletic fields, soccer fields, and Cow Island.

Gilmet said the killing of the birds in the city has been somewhat divisive, but he believes some people have come around to the idea. He said local news outlets have helped educate the public on why the hunt is necessary and how and when it will take place.

“There were no unexpected or unfavorable incidents during this year’s hunt,” Gilmet said. “We did have some news media coverage, and most responses I heard were positive about the steps the city is taking to control the local giant Canada goose population.”

Steve Schulwitz can be reached at 989-358-5689 at sschulwitz@thealpenanews.com.