Lake Shelbyville – The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers is working closely with the U.S. Department of Agriculture, the Illinois Department of Natural Resources and local communities to manage the health and safety risk that resident Canada geese pose to Lake Shelbyville’s visitors. Excess fecal droppings and the threat of aggression from high concentrations of geese has had a negative impact on the public’s use of the recreational facilities around the lake.
Large resident geese populations have been a problem at Lake Shelbyville’s recreation areas for the past decade. In June and July, geese are flightless when they molt their primary flight feathers. During this time period, 75 to 150 geese flock to the beach areas. A Canada goose deposits up to one pound of feces per day, which translates to 75 to 150 pounds of feces per day in these areas. This has lead to unsanitary conditions, causing beach closings and increased risks to human health due to high fecal coliform counts in the water at developed beaches.
Additionally, goose feces can contain the parasites cryptosporidium, giardia and campylobacter. While goose feces pose little risk to healthy people; the elderly, children, and women who are pregnant or breastfeeding are particularly susceptible to health risks posed by parasites that inhabit Canada goose feces. At even higher risk are those with weak immune systems.
Canada geese are also a problem during nesting and brood-rearing as aggressive geese have bitten and chased people, causing injuries related to falling or being struck by the geese. This has resulted in visitors being unable to safely use or enjoy the beaches and parks at Lake Shelbyville.
Numerous tactics for managing the resident geese in Lake Shelbyville’s recreational areas have been attempted for the past 10 years. The Corps of Engineers has spent a significant amount of resources attempting to discourage the geese with nonlethal measures including but not limited to: prohibiting feeding of geese, hazing with lasers, dogs, predator decoys and motion devices, easing hunting restrictions during the off season around recreation areas, grazing repellents, and egg addling, all with no lasting effect. Other efforts to reduce negative health impacts to visitors included extra cleanings to remove droppings from walkways, picnic facilities, beaches and play areas. These efforts have been labor and cost intensive with very temporary results.
To ensure a healthy future for Lake Shelbyville beaches and parks, immediate additional steps are needed to protect visitors from the potential health and safety risks posed by the resident geese. A limited taking of resident Canada geese from Lake Shelbyville’s recreational areas has been scheduled for the week of July 14. The beaches will be closed to the public during the taking. The taking will reinforce continued hazing efforts and reduce immediate existing health and safety risk to the visiting public in this area. Lake Shelbyville personnel will continue to use a balanced approach in the management of resident geese in developed recreation areas.
The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers is coordinating the taking of geese with the U.S. Department of Agriculture, the Illinois Department of Natural Resources, local law enforcement and the local communities. For additional information concerning the taking of geese at Lake Shelbyville, contact Natural Resources Specialists Lee Mitchell or Ashley Florey at (217) 774-3951 ext: 7049.