City of Rochester
201 4th Street SE
Rochester, MN  55904

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City of Rochester Parks & Recreation Department to Review Geese Management Options

Post Date:11/08/2018 9:34 AM

The City of Rochester Parks and Recreation Board of Commissioners will discuss geese impacts in the park system at the November 13 Park Board meeting.  Humane management strategies will be reviewed but no action is expected from the Park Board at this meeting. If increased management activities are recommended by the Board, public comment will be requested at a future Park Board meeting. 

A vegetation buffer was implemented along the shoreline of Silver Lake in 2007.  The buffer made the area less attractive to geese and resulted in the bulk of the population moving to other areas.  Habitat modification is just one element of a sustainable geese management plan. There were several other wildlife management strategies considered but not implemented in 2007.  Paul Widman, Director of Parks and Recreation stated, “We have received increased complaints regarding the geese and geese droppings on trails, playgrounds and in picnic areas.  We plan to re-visit recommendations that have been made to the Park Board and City Council over the years.  Our goal is to review the best options for geese and humans to share the park system.”

Geese and pet waste contains fecal coliform bacteria that, when found in rivers and lakes, may indicate the presence of disease-causing organisms. The South Fork of the Zumbro River in Rochester is classified by the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency as being impaired for recreational use because it contains too much fecal coliform bacteria.

Geese have a long history in the Rochester area. Dr. Charles Mayo Sr. purchased 15 Canada Geese in 1924. These resident geese attracted an estimated 600 migrating geese during the winter. The construction of Silver Lake in 1936 and the warm water that once flowed into the lake from the Silver Lake Power Plant led to an increased number of migrating geese. This was a benefit to the dwindling Giant Canada Goose population.  Over the years, the geese thrived and multiplied in the US and Canada as a result of lack of natural predators, wildlife management efforts, and habitat restoration. 

Federal law protects geese but there are provisions for management strategies on public and private lands. Director Widman stated, “If a management plan is developed from our discussions with the Park Board and other stakeholders we will coordinate all efforts with Minnesota Department of Natural Resources and the US Fish and Wildlife Service. All options that we will review with the Park Board are recommended by the Humane Society of the United States.”

The November 13 meeting will be held at the Prairie House at Quarry Hill Park, 701 Silver Creek Road NE. It begins at 4:30 p.m.