While Foster City now has the necessary permits needed to cull around 100 Canada Geese, the council will wait until spring on a final decision and continue investigating nonlethal methods.
At a Sept. 19 meeting update to the Foster City Council, city staff said the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Services issued a depredation permit in July, lasting until July 31, 2023, authorizing the killing of up to 100 adult Canada Geese. However, a city staff report said the best time to perform culling would be in the spring during geese molting season, with any depredation efforts now difficult and less effective. Given the extra time, the council directed staff to create a Goose Population Management Plan to investigate geese management and nonlethal methods further. City staff plan to put a request for proposal out to hire an expert consultant to evaluate the significance of the problem and possible solutions not yet considered. The council wants to explore nonlethal methods until the spring and stressed it has not made a final decision on geese culling.
“I think we are very serious in continuing to explore any and every option that is out there that would work,” Councilmember Sam Hindi said, who wanted to see more egg addling to prevent births.
Councilmember Patrick Sullivan said because the city did not have adequate staffing levels, the city needed to bring in experts to make the best decision possible.
“I am one of the only members on the council who has made clear we don’t need to eliminate the geese,” Sullivan said.
The city was exploring lethal options because of public health hazards around degraded water quality and excrement in parks, beaches and recreation areas. City water quality updates for Gull and Marlin parks have found the primary source of bacteria was wildlife like geese and seagulls. Foster City has tried various methods to control the population with little effect. Methods include dog hazing, strobe lights, keeping goose eggs from hatching and fence barriers. In June of 2022, the goose population in Foster City was 379, with the population in 2020 at 181. The city’s decisions have prompted fierce public resistance. Public speakers at the Sept. 19 meeting urged the council to reconsider and not kill any geese, citing the humanitarian need to save the animals.
The city stressed it had conducted numerous meetings with vendors, agencies and wildlife groups in the past two months to explore further options, with plans to continue outreach efforts. It has met with San Mateo County Health, the California Department of Fish and Wildlife, the Animal Protection League of New Jersey, the office of U.S. Rep. Jackie Speier, D-San Mateo, and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Services. According to a staff report, the city had tech company Baybots run an artificial intelligence pilot program at the southern end of Leo J. Ryan Park to study geese behavior and study autonomous hazing. Baybots has proposed having a robot named Spot to haze geese in Foster City. The city said California Fish and Wildlife has said no to relocating the geese within the state over concerns of avian flu, limiting its nonlethal strategies.
Councilmember Sanjay Gehani said the potential doubling of the goose population in the coming years correlates to poor water quality. Gehani stressed the city had failures in managing that population and wanted to explore nonlethal methods while maintaining the lethal option if needed.
“What we are doing is making a very thoughtful and difficult consideration for a compressive plan that allows our children and members of our community and people who visit us to walk through our park safely,” Gehani said. “You are still going to see geese in Foster City. The question is, do we want 600 of them? Do we want to manage that?”
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