The issue of geese in the park

The Canada geese have had another very successful breeding season and there are dozens of geese families in the park. The geese parents are highly-protective of the baby goslings, and often hiss or peck at anyone who comes too close. This is one of the many reasons that we stress that there are issues in feeding the wild birds in the park. Another important issue is the sheer quantity of droppings, which make the paths and grass unpleasant; ‘goose poo’ in the park is the major source of complaints about the park.

Canada geese were introduced into the country and have no natural predators. Rowntree Park is just one of hundreds of parks and open spaces in the UK that have a problem with too many Canada geese. Like hundreds of other Friends’ groups, the Friends of Rowntree Park discuss the issue of the geese on a regular basis, often collaborating with the Council. In 2010, the Friends and Council worked together to commission and fund a report on the Canada geese.

Careful reading of the report shows that there have been many studies, all seeking to find a way to control geese, or to prevent them from having such an annoying impact on the amenity value of parks and open spaces. It is clear that there is no one simple, cheap and universally-acceptable solution to the problem. Specifically, the Friends are often asked “why can’t the geese just be moved or culled?'”, but the cleared area would swiftly be filled up with geese from elsewhere in the York region. There are a number of possible ways in which some specific areas of the park could be made less attractive to the geese, and these may be something to concentrate on, if practical (and if funds are available).

The Friends are once more revisiting the subject, at the Friends meeting on Thursday 18th June. A member of Council staff will be present. All are welcome to take part in these discussions but we would ask that you read the report before attending, so that we don’t have to spend valuable discussion time, retracing our steps over existing information.

5 thoughts on “The issue of geese in the park

  1. Hello Cath thank you for sending me this, not sure if it’s because it’s past my bedtime (!) but can’t see what time the meeting is at or where it is held, as this would be my first attendance so a bit clueless am afraid – please can you let me know when convenient. Also do I assume this is open to all members of the public? kind regards

    Katie Brown

    1. cathmortimer says:

      Hi Katie

      The meeting is next Thursday, 18th, at 7pm at the Cafe in the park. All Friends’ meetings are open to all.

      Previous Friends’ newsletters have the details of meetings – as well as other relevant things – if you look under ‘newsletters’ on this site. We also have a FB site, which is more current.

      We are always looking for motivated individuals to help with the Friends’ activities – if you’d like to get involved with any aspect (including working on the goose situation), do get in touch


  2. Hi Cath

    Unfortunately I am unable to attend this meeting due to childcare but would like to say/ask the following:

    – what has the Council done in the last 3-6 months to deter the geese apart from the swapping of the eggs. How effective is the swapping of the eggs, has it reduced the geese in recent years? This is my local park and yet I have never seen anyone making any attempt to keep the geese to a minimum in the park and have never seen anyone swapping the eggs! when/where does it all take place?? if the public could see a bit of action, they may feel the Council are at least trying to help keep the park as clean as possible.

    – A lot of people say” what can we do about the geese? we have tried everything! ” Regarding the case of the park alone, the signage could be much clearer with a warning of fines issued on the spot, the use of border collies could be trialled (as per report). Can we try some of the visual stimuli as mentioned in the report? Do the geese use the islands? if so, can these be more restricted?are they nesting on the islands or is that just the ducks? The goose buster also sounds an option, local residents could be asked for ideas/opinions/regular updates on what the council are doing. Of course, it is always down to how much money the council are prepared to put in and there is no point putting in a half hearted attempt.

    Can we fill in some of the water to see if this makes it less attractive to the geese? I feel as though the Council have simply have given up – a long time ago. The geese have it all very comfortable at the park, there are no threats whatsoever.

    After a visit to the park on saturday, I could see geese poo now in the kids play area and the some of the poo that totally covers the grass inbetween the 2 play areas was the size of a dog’s.

    I accept that there are geese in the park but they take over the whole place and it really should be controlled to ensure visitor satisfaction, what on earth must tourists think of the mess?! it is not a nature reserve!

    Rowntrees Park is such a wonderful and beautiful place but the council must make more attempts to show this is a park for people and not a home for geese alone. If you go on some tripadvisors website and things like that, it is embarrassing to read tourists refer to it as “one big geese toilet”, we want to be proud of our park.

    Please accept my apologies if more has been tried than it would appear, put it down to my ignorance as am quite new to the area – having lived close to west bank park previously, it just seems such a shame to have the grass covered in the stuff! I have no issue with the geese being in york and understand it is a common problem but there are places that are seriously tackling it and we should take a leaf out of their book.

    Kind regards

    Katie Brown

  3. I have heard it said that having areas of longer grass might be an option – they like the short grass as they can see it is safe from predators! I also think a low fence along the edge of the water and paths might help as they like to be able to get in and out of the water without flying ie have managed areas that are more attractive for them away from public areas. Surely anything is worth a try?!

    1. cathmortimer says:

      hi there

      You’ll see from the review document, that both of those are possible ideas, amongst a long list of things that have been tried elsewhere.

      The Friends are pressing the Council to try the low fence/wire/tape at the water’s edge, and have offered to help fund it. Many other parks use this.

      Longer grass would probably be more difficult to put into action, in the context of the Park, as it would need to be along nearly all of the lake-edge, and would need get established, probably by use of (temporary) fencing, otherwise people would just trample it down. The Friends would also support a trial of this.

      Another idea is to complete the enclosure of the two small gardens (near the bowling greens), to make them picnic- and toddler-friendly gardens.

      We are currently trying to get sufficient volunteers to form a ‘Goose Patrol’, to shoo the geese away from the Park. Our aim is to make the geese feel less comfortable, so that they move away to another area. It’ll take some time to have an effect, though! Do get in contact if you’d like to be included in the Goose Patrol.

      You’ll see from the document, there are loads of ideas that have been tried elsewhere, and we will probably need to use a number of them in combination. We welcome offers of practical hands-on help, as the Friends have limited numbers of volunteers themselves.

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