The hunt is on, as geese overrun the area

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Vast amount of geese at Clinton Lakes. Photo courtesy of Tom Olson, Parks and Green Space Coordinator.

Geese at Clinton Lakes County Park. Photo courtesy of Thomas Olson, Parks and Green Space Coordinator.

By Luke Robins
Clinton County Chatter staff reporter

ST. JOHNS – Located north of St. Johns, at 4665 N. DeWitt Road, Clinton Lakes County Park is infested. Not with something one normally calls a pest control & exterminator service for when they hear the word infested like termites or cockroaches, but with a much larger, winged animal; the goose.

Clinton County officials say they have a geese problem at their parks and officials are attempting to control it with the help of citizens through a controlled hunt in October and November.

According to Thomas Olson, the Parks and Green Space Coordinator at Clinton County, it is tough to track the exact numbers, but this is the time when you start to see the numbers rise: “They’re migratory animals. When you get to mid to late September, when they start coming back, you’ll see well over a thousand at any given time.”

There is no surprise that these parks are having this issue. Charles Nelson, a chair member of the Parks and Green Space Commission at Clinton County and Associate Professor of Community Sustainability at Michigan State University, said that, “It is a big body of water. It is a great resting place for them before they go out to feed. Geese are smart; they go to where they won’t be bothered.”

The real problem with the abundance of geese comes from their droppings and how that can negatively affect the lake and recreational opportunities the park can offer.

Geese at Motz County Park. Photo courtesy of Tom Olson, Parks and Green Space Coordinator.

Geese at Motz County Park. Photo courtesy of Tom Olson, Parks and Green Space Coordinator.

Olson said, “We have bacteria issues when it comes to them leaving droppings in and around the water area, especially around our swimming areas. We test monthly for E. coli and other bacteria, and if one of the tests goes over the safety limit we will have to shut down the beaches until the levels even out.”

Nelson said, “We want the lake to be beautiful and swimmable for the next one hundred years.”

To combat these unwanted guests, Clinton County has decided to allow citizens the opportunity to hunt. On Monday, Oct. 12, 2015, a random drawing will occur and if their application is successful, they will be given a hunting permit for their approved date.

Olson said Clinton County has set 8 specific days throughout October and November for hunting opportunities. These hunts will occur from one hour before legal shooting time until 2 p.m. on Oct. 19, 22, 26 and 29 and Nov. 2, 5, 9, and 12.

Five hunters will be approved for each hunt and will be allowed to bring along two guests as long as they have filled out the application before the deadline of Oct. 9. There is a potential that one hundred and twenty hunters will partake in these hunts.

Geese flying over the parks. Photo courtesy of Thomas Olson.

Geese flying over the parks. Photo courtesy of Thomas Olson.

This is seen as another opportunity to provide a recreational activity for the park users.

Olson said, “Hunting is a recreational opportunity, especially in Mid-Michigan where people really enjoy hunting.”
While hunting is not the only control method used, it is one of the more popular ones for the residents of Mid-Michigan even for those not in Clinton County.

Nelson, who has also signed up to participate and said, “A lot of people hunt in Clinton County and people have applied from other counties as well. There is a lot of interest in the Mid-Michigan area.”

Hunters are allowed to take home up to two geese carcasses.

Olson said, “It is a nice prize for them to take home after a recreational activity.”

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