CLARKSVILLE — Clarksville officials are working to mitigate an issue — an overpopulation of geese — that they say has plagued Town Hall property for years.
The sometimes aggressive fowl have caused erosion from over grazing of the vegetation and posed sanitary issues from their waste, town officials say.
The plan is to significantly reduce the number of geese, but not entirely. The town submitted a permit application in March with the Indiana Division of Fish and Wildlife for removal of the geese, according to Redevelopment director Dylan Fisher.
And in April, the Town entered into a three-year contract with Rusty's Animal Control, a state-approved nuisance fowl control operator, which includes an annual roundup of geese between June 3 and July 3 and up to three special visits between April 1 and July 3.
Between 200 and 250 geese were caught mid-June using funnel traps. They were then euthanized by means of carbon dioxide or cervical dislocation, Rusty Fields, owner of the company working with Clarksville, said. The carcasses were then incinerated, said Fields, who indicated his past efforts to donate the meat to non-profits such as food banks and shelters were rejected.
The DNR district wildlife biologist for the area can issue permits to relocate or euthanize geese. If they are relocated, the federally protected geese must be taken to a sanctioned wildlife area. In the cases where permits are granted for euthanization, the animals must be euthanized by a state-approved company.
According to the DNR website, geese may be removed or euthanized during the flightless window — mid-June to early July. Prior to that, Fields said, the DNR issues permits to euthanize, due to the potential of the birds flying back.
Earlier in the year, some of the geese had become aggressive, and Fields said they had begun to nest near the town hall building.
“There were a lot of geese down there,” he said. “Very high numbers.
“What we're trying to do is we're trying to reduce the overall numbers because they're causing such a problem.”
Part of the solution involves altering the habitat, making the area less attractive to geese. The cost of the three-year contract, $9,810 — includes the installation of barrier fences to keep the birds out of the town campus' two stormwater ponds.
“We're trying to control the population,” Fields said. “That's why we're trying to install the fences, that's why we're trying to keep this from having to happen.
“That is our end goal. We want to be able to have a few geese, but not just huge numbers.”
This is the first step in a years-long process to recuperate the natural habitat that has been damaged by the geese population.
Years ago, town officials consulted an expert about erosion issues who determined eroded soil is collecting in the stormwater ponds during heavy rainfall. Over time, the soil deposits have decreased the amount of water the ponds can hold, which has caused flooding and subsequent building damage on the town campus.
"We are certain that installing a barrier fence and performing annual round-ups will not prohibit geese from returning to the site, but it will result in a reduced population," Fisher stated in an email. "Without a reduced population, the town cannot take the necessary steps to correct neglected erosion issues and germinate new grass to stabilize the soil around our campus."
Topsoil and seeding is expected to begin next month.
In 2018, biologists and wildlife experts will help the town develop a plan for new plants meant to improve water quality, stabilize the soil around the ponds and even instinctually deter geese.
Officials are also planning to drain and dredge the ponds to remove the buildup of eroded soil.