Alycia Eck is APPA's Internet manager and list administrator for APPAinfo. She can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.
When people first log onto the Internet and make their first attempts at websites, e-mail, and discussion lists, hardcore users who have seemingly been raised with computers since their infancy term these new surfers "newbies." More than likely, newbies are new to the world wide web, new to websites, and maybe even new to computers as well. Internet veterans expect some floundering before the fledgling leaps out, spreads their wings, and launches another e-commerce site.
In the same vein, I'll admit that I am a facilities newbie. Before I started working for APPA, I was the one who called to complain about the heating, the air-conditioning, the flickering lights, and the air-conditioning again. I was a champion in the thermostat wars. Yet, after a few months, I learned that there was actually a unit of measurement for clothing insulation to gauge heating/cooling needs. I obviously needed to increase my clothing to 0.9 clo.
So when APPA launched their restructured e-mail discussion list, APPAinfo, in November 1998, I found myself, a confessed facilities newbie, administering a list dedicated to and peopled by facilities professionals. While I expected to encounter some difficulties, I am pleasantly surprised to find APPAinfo turning into a helpful resource and vibrant online community. Questions are being asked and answered. Sometimes comments elicit more than just an answer or two, but an online discussion of trends.
Duck, duck, goose?
Here's a discussion thread I hadn't considered...birds. These birds of a feather certainly do create problems together. The list talked about several solutions--some serious, some seriously funny--to deter these winged pests.
Question: Anyone have suggestions for dealing with a goose problem on athletic fields?
- This is a common problem for golf courses also. One of the national associations for golf course management may have ideas.
- Contact your Fish and Game for a design on a propane cannon that fires on a timer. They use it in Montana to run deer and elk out of hay fields. If that don't work, place two dozen roaster pans around the field, if there smart geese they will get the hint and leave.
- I know of a golf course in Suffolk County, Long Island, that successfully used Labrador retrievers that were taken around the course several times a day until geese got the message. I don t know what they are doing to keep them off, however.
- We recently got some information from Cornell University Press.1 They have a book and a video tape on controlling geese in urban/suburban areas. I found them informative. We have well over 100 geese on campus that occasionally attack students and visitors. According to the information, Border Collies have been used successfully to encourage the geese to move elsewhere. They are not needed full time, but are brought into the area on an as needed basis. More frequently at first and less often after a level of control is reached. You most likely have a regional or local contingent of Border Collie Breeders. They are usually farm folk and industrious. They would probably be your best bet in helping to solve your problem. I have two Border Collies and I know for a fact they would work until they dropped from exhaustion to do their owner's bidding.
- One successful but controversial approach discussed in the video is herding the geese into cages during the molt when they don't fly. The geese are then butchered and given to food pantries. Very effective in reducing populations, can be very controversial. Federal and possibly state permits are required.
- We are presently using techniques under a federal permit to make the eggs non-viable. If you remove the eggs they will simply lay another batch. But if you puncture the egg they will continue to incubate the infertile eggs until the breeding season is over. Unfortunately this only stabilizes the population by reducing the number of goslings. Non-migratory geese are surprisingly long lived. The information from Cornell also reports that planting trees and hedges near ponds make suburban areas less attractive.
- Collies and other "distracters" are fairly effective. Believe it or not, white grape juice is an effective deterrent for keeping geese off walkways and paths. Try it; perhaps it could assist with your field situation as well.
- Dogs! There's a special breed that's trained to keep geese off property. I'm sure you've got someone locally already in the business that you can hire to chase them away. I live on a game refuge in Portland, Oregon where we play host to thousands of Canadian geese each year. A few of the farms have made life size figures of coyotes, bald eagles, and humans to place in their fields. It seems to work fine.
- Property owners here in northern Michigan have had luck with installing stakes and stringing survey tape one foot off the ground. The geese will not go under it or over it. I was not a believer until I actually watched a goose approach the tape and become befuddled. I can tell you that they are smart enough to walk the perimeter until they find an opening. Not sure if this is practical, but your discussion topic has sparked such interest, I couldn't resist throwing my two cents worth in.
- Dogs are an excellent way of handling the problem. Many golf courses use working dogs for this purpose. I believe it takes a steady 1-2 weeks to retrain the geese. The message that needs to be imprinted on them is that "this is not a good place to land."
- I just came across an ad in the back of a magazine for "GooseChase" by Bird-X. It is a liquid applied at the rate of one gallon per acre. Their number is 800-662-5021.
Doing the Pigeon
Question: Does anyone have any information on how to effectively get rid of pigeons? We have tried several things to no avail. Do the wire spikes, electronic barriers, owls, netting work? We also have a limited budget.
- For years we suffered an infestation of pigeons, and tried all the proprietary and other gadgets. With grain silos only 1.5 km away as the pigeon flies, our buildings provided a desirable residence for the birds. Our local hospital which suffered from the same problem lead the way. They got City and the S.P.C.A. (Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals) approval to use a pest exterminator. Six months later, we started using the same contractor. The birds are shot using a high powered air rifle. The operator works between midnight and 2 a.m. and is careful to remove any carcasses. I think that over a period of about eight years only once has a window been damaged, and we have had no complaints from the campus population. Pigeons are rarely seen on the campus now. If a group of two or three are seen, the exterminator makes a return visit.
- Our auditorium at is a renovated church that is listed on the state's Register of Historic Places. We too had a major problem with pigeons and their droppings, which fell onto the steps of the main entrance. Each day we were required to sweep the steps to control this. We installed NIXILITE, a product of stainless steel, needle-like spikes around the bell tower. This worked exceptionally well in this area, and was relatively inexpensive. We no longer have pigeons roosting for more than a few seconds! This also does not detract from the appearance of the building as it is not visible to the casual observer, from 40 feet below. This product was installed 6-7 years ago, was inspected this summer and shows now apparent signs of wear.
- We have tried spikes, chemicals, and plastic owls. The pigeons built nests in the spikes, got high on the chemicals and laughed at the owls. We determined that we needed a patented perched pigeon purple poop preventer to preclude the purloined perpetrators from pretentiously positioning their posteriors on our pristine parapets! Yet, in all seriousness, the only effective means of eliminating the problem for us was by installing the bird deterrent system by Avian Flyaway. We have the system on two buildings and are currently planning two more.
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1. Craven, Scott. Managing Canada Geese in Urban Environments. The Resource Center, Cornell Cooperative Extension, PO Box 3884, Ithaca, NY 14852-3884. Cost $11.03 for book, $27.95 for video. Call 607-255-2080. Email email@example.com Secure online ordering: www.cce.cornell.edu/store