COURSE CARE
A Method To Give A Goose To Your Geese – No Deposit, No Return February 18, 2014 By Larry Gilhuly

Resident Canada geese are difficult to remove from golf facilities once they become established. The use of lasers offers a humane method to encourage them elsewhere.

Three years ago, a method to harass Canada geese from golf courses was viewed at Waverley Country Club in Portland, Ore. (see A Method to Give a Goose to Your Geese). In the ensuing three years, the personal purchase of one of these laser devices has shown the same type of positive results with Canada geese, crows and American widgeons (see A Method To Give A Goose To Your Geese – Part 2) during the early and late portions of the day. Lasers are also very effective on cloudy days; however, when the sun comes out, this method is virtually useless. While the original premise of this series of updates was to simply share this idea as another way to humanely remove unwanted Canada geese, a recent conversation with Jesse Goodling, superintendent at the Heron Lakes Golf Club in Portland, Ore., struck a chord about the costs associated with Canada geese.

Heron Lakes is a 36-hole complex that sits hard on the shores of the Columbia River. From November through April, Canada geese see this green oasis as a great stopping spot on their way south and north. Prior to the introduction of the laser, Jesse had to deal with hundreds, if not thousands, of these unwanted birds on a daily basis. While harassment techniques with dogs were relatively effective during working hours (generally until about 3 p.m. during winter months), it was common to arrive the next morning to massive deposits of dung littering the entire course. This resulted in a loss of revenue and complaints from players grew to such a high level that Jesse responded eight years ago by hiring a part-time staff person to deter geese from the time the staff leaves around 2:30 or 3 p.m. until dusk. By arming this staff person with a powerful laser and at a cost of few thousand dollars during this six-month period (the goose harasser also mows greens on weekends during the growing season), the problem has been basically solved. Jesse reports the use of dogs has been stopped and there are still signs of bird activity. This simple investment has easily paid for itself with more players enjoying the course.

The humane harassment of Canada geese, American widgeons and coots remains a major issue in the Northwest region and wherever migratory birds travel. The key is constant harassment during all daylight hours coercing these birds to move to other sites. When discussing this issue with golf courses that deal with this issue, the common comment is, “It is too expensive to have staff after the maintenance staff leaves.” In reality, one person working diligently until dark will produce remarkable results that will be just short of “no deposit and no return.”

Source: Larry Gilhuly (lgilhuly@usga.org

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