MISHAWAKA — Angela Eberhart started a “Save the Geese” page on Facebook thinking that it would just be “me and a couple of friends.”
But it has grown to about 370 members in the wake of news a week ago that 400-plus Canada geese were removed from Mishawaka parks and killed by a contractor that the city hired.
And an online petition that Eberhart started — to seek a way of dealing with large flocks of geese in the parks other than killing them — garnered 115 signatures by Monday.
Rama Ganesan of Granger and a local group are organizing a vigil for the geese at 7 p.m. Friday outside of City Hall, 600 E. Third St. Ganesan said the peaceful ceremony will include candles, flowers, signs and a song of mourning. It will be one of several such vigils for killed geese that have been held across the country, said Ganesan, whose informal group has also protested at the Elkhart County 4-H Fair and a rodeo there, along with a protest at Cafe Navarre over the serving of goose liver, known as foie gras.
Mishawaka Mayor Dave Wood has said he ordered a former city parks superintendent to bring the geese numbers under control in the parks, though he said he didn’t know the measures would involve killing the birds. A contractor, certified by the Indiana Department of Natural Resources, carried out the work in late June or early July at the city golf course and at Beutter, Merrifield and Crawford parks.
Wood said it came after the city tried several other tactics to control the geese at the golf course. His chief concern, he said, was the health of park visitors.
The city had earmarked $15,000 in this year’s park department budget for professional services for “animal control.”
Many other public reactions, on Facebook and in a few letters to The Tribune, include those who are glad to see the city do something to deal with goose poop that has plastered the parks. But many others have also said they hope that, if more geese are killed in the future, the meat would be processed and donated to charity. The contractor has said that these geese were simply buried because the contractor couldn’t find a charity or processor who would accept the birds.
Spurred by Mishawaka’s dilemma, South Bend Common Council Vice President Oliver Davis, D-6th, filed a resolution Monday so that the council can learn and discuss what efforts South Bend has taken or considered to control its geese population.
In Mishawaka, Eberhart, who works as a certified nursing assistant at a local nursing home, said, “I’m not against moving and relocating them.”
She just doesn’t want the geese killed. She isn’t asking for any specific tactics, though she wonders if some added fences could keep the birds away from areas where people are.
Eberhart understands those who complain that geese have hissed or come after them. She’s been chased by a goose, too, and even by a red-winged black bird when she got to close to a nest.
“They’re warning you to stay away,” she said.
She wrote in her petition: “These animals do not know they are doing anything wrong.”
Despite the prior removal of geese there this summer, a Tribune photographer counted 40 to 50 geese in Beutter Park on Saturday.
Source: South Bend Tribune