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Board OK’s community say in adoption, reduction of geese

Directors debate over speed of discussion, decision
By: Bridget Jones, Journal Staff Writer
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Look for fewer domestic geese in Meadow Vista Park. After heated debate Thursday night, the Auburn Area Recreation and Parks District board decided staff would work with Meadow Vista representatives to come up with an adoption and reduction plan for the waterfowl. The decision was approved by a 3-2 vote of the district’s board of directors, with directors Gordon Ainsleigh and Jim Gray voting no. Ten local residents and rescue group officials, many from Meadow Vista, spoke at the meeting, voicing their opinions about why all of the 35 domestic geese should not be removed from the park and that the board was rushing its decision. No one from the public spoke in favor of removing the birds. Director Curt Smith, who asked that the potential removal be put on the board’s agenda, said the geese had been a growing problem in the park and he didn’t think any decision the board made could be considered rushed. “In my mind what is and has occurred is not occurring all that fast,” Smith said. “The problem with the geese in Meadow Vista Park, we have been aware of it for three, three-and-a-half years. The thing is, so much of what we do in this district is predicated on available money.” Meadow Vista resident Heather Ireland said she thinks the presentation she made at June’s board meeting, which was critical of the recent fishing derby held in the park and the harm it had done to some animals, was what inspired the conversation about possibly removing the geese. “Since then the focus has been redirected from the issues I had spoken about,” Ireland said. Ireland said she would consider helping in the relocation of the geese if a more concrete way of how to do so humanely was determined. “I ask you to please slow down, draw a clear plan,” she said. “If that plan is humane … then you have my support and the support of people who love the geese.” Curt Ransom, senior humane officer from the Humane Society of the Sierra Foothills, said he was there to support coming up with a good plan to relocate the geese. Ransom has said in the past the Humane Society would be most in favor of leaving the geese in the park. Meadow Vista resident Barbara Chavez said the geese don’t seem to bother anyone and are a positive addition. “The geese … are part of the treasure of the park,” Chavez said. “It’s a beautiful park. I have never seen geese on the tables. I think the reason they go after people is because somebody’s been feeding them. The (feces) fertilizes the land. I know sometimes it can be messy and it’s hard for kids playing soccer, but the park is the park and the geese are part of the park.” Ainsleigh asked district staff how many complaints it receives about the geese and their feces and staff said complaints come in weekly. Director Scott Holbrook said the geese have been noted as a problem by the Placer County Parks and Grounds Division and could hinder ARD receiving a grant to renovate the soccer field at the park. Holbrook pointed out a quote from the county included in the staff packet, which said, “The park is infested with ducks and geese. These birds destroy the turf by transporting weed seeds. They also damage the turf by rooting for food. Please describe a plan to keep the ducks and geese off of the soccer field.” Gray said he thought the decision about the geese was happening too fast and the Meadow Vista residents should be able to help decide what happened to the birds. “I think the citizens deserve the time, because the geese have been there a while,” Gray said. “I think the community itself can probably figure out the issue of the geese themselves.” Director Jim Ferris said he felt a compromise should come between staff and the public on what to do about the geese. Smith made a motion to have a four-month program in which to catch and adopt the geese out while leaving four same-sex geese in the pond. According to staff, the California Department of Fish and Game said four to six geese would be appropriate for the size of the pond in the park. Smith’s motion failed. After more debate and another failed amendment to a motion, the board voted to have ARD staff work with Meadow Vista residents and other agencies to come up with the adoption and reduction plan before goose mating season. Reach Bridget Jones at bridgetj@goldcountrymedia.com