Kat Riddler, Managing Editor
When you walk onto the University of Missouri-St. Louis’ campus, it is hard to not notice the geese. But are there too many geese on campus?
UMSL has an Integrated Pest Management (IPM) Plan. The plan states, “Not all insects, weeds and other living organisms require control. Many organisms are innocuous, and some are even beneficial. IPM programs work to monitor for pests and identify them accurately, so that appropriate control decisions can be made in conjunction with action thresholds.”
Grounds Supervisor Greg Ward said that geese population management has been going on since the early 90s. Ward said, “The program was very strong and vibrant during the 90s and early 2000s but waned in successful treatments from the mid-2000s until now…Our goose program is part of our Integrated Pest Management, and we follow these guidelines to treat any pest on property, goose related or other.”
Ward estimated that UMSL has a flock of about 20 to 30 birds. When there are too many geese on campus there is evidence of that in the ponds being over saturated with goose feces that leads to algae blooms. In previous years, grounds has dyed the water aqua-blue to limit sunlight from reaching the bottom so algae cannot grow. Ward said that Grounds will be taking a proactive approach to treat the algae before it becomes a problem so the water does not runoff to the Maline Creek watershed and create problems downstream.
The ideal goal is to have a flock of about a dozen. The estimated lifespan of a wild migratory goose is anywhere from 13 to 20 years. Since UMSL is a relatively safe area with few predators, the lifespan might be longer for campus geese. Ward said, “Having just a few birds will deter many migratory geese who come from Northern climates to nest for the season.”
Ward saw potential in a research project – if a student was interested – to study the mating pairs, migratory flocks, or track the juveniles of the permanent and migratory flocks on campus.
UMSL Grounds follows Geese Peace St. Louis and PETA humane protocols when removing eggs. They use the float test to allow any egg past stage three to hatch. Grounds has successfully treated over ten geese nests this year with around five to eight nests to go.
Ward said, “Our population management program is a year-round, multi-faceted approach of which could last for the entirety of the life of the campus. It is important to understand that there is no magic, silver bullet which could end our geese problem overnight.”
Geese management should in no way disrupt the learning environment of students, faculty, or staff on campus. Ward anticipates that the only people who would be disrupted are those curious about their actions and who might stop to ask questions. Ward said, “We want to be as transparent as possible to our student, faculty, staff and stakeholders in all of our processes, especially when it comes to wildlife and treating issues in a humane and ethical approach.”
Ward said, “To date, Grounds has successfully treated over 10 nests, preventing a possibility of 70 or more goslings from taking over our campus for 2018.”