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Denver's controversial geese culling program brings community together to discuss 'humane solutions'

Posted at 10:33 PM, Jan 29, 2020
and last updated 2020-01-30 00:56:19-05

DENVER -- Wildlife experts and the community came together at the University of Denver Wednesday to discuss humane solutions to deal with the overpopulation of Canada geese across city parks.

Dozens of people attended the Geese and People: Protection and Policy meeting at Craig Hall. Many in attendance described the city program to round up and kill them as “cruel.”

“We want to put a stop to it,” Ellen Kessler said.

First Gentleman Marlon Reis denounced the killing of geese at the meeting. Wildlife experts on the panel said they want to give the geese a voice and share their knowledge with the public.

Last year, Denver Parks and Recreation partnered with the U.S. Department of Agriculture and killed more than 1,600 geese and fed them to the needy.

Denver County is home to about 5,000 Canada geese. The average goose leaves behind about a pound of droppings a day, according to Scott Gilmore with Denver Parks and Recreation. In previous interviews with Denver7, Gilmore said there are too many geese and the droppings are not only a nuisance, but they impact the environment. The city has a three-year deal with the USDA to euthanize geese.

“It’s disheartening that these are public officials using our tax dollars but they won’t listen to us, that’s unacceptable,” speaker Courtney DeWinter, with the group Canada Geese Protection Colorado, said.

Philip Tedeschi, a professor at the University of Denver who studies human and animal interactions, said he worries killing geese will have long-term effects on youth.

“Cruelty and violence and killing is not without consequence. We are really interconnected with nature and other animals,” he said, describing geese as intelligent animals with emotions.

Many speakers presented non-lethal solutions to help control the geese population, such as using technology to clean up geese droppings, introducing natural prey and changing the environment to deter geese from staying in Denver and continue their migration elsewhere.

“Like looking at the kind of grass that’s planted, that’s the primary food source for these particular birds,” Tedeschi said. “If we are not willing to change any of those features, we will see the same amounts of birds every year.”

Tedeschi plans to hold another meeting in February. A date has not been selected

Denver Parks and Recreation was not invited to the meeting.