published Wednesday, August 14th, 2013

Despite culling, geese return to Chattanooga State

The Canada geese have returned to the campus of Chattanooga State.
The Canada geese have returned to the campus of Chattanooga State.
Photo by Tim Barber.
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    Geese swim peacefully near Chickamauga Marina a few miles from Chattanooga State.
    Photo by Dan Henry /Chattanooga Times Free Press.

Officials at Chattanooga State are starting to learn — waterfowl do not scare easily.

After about 100 Canada geese were rounded up and killed in July by U.S. Department of Agriculture officials, some 25 have come to the school's Amnicola Highway campus.

College officials said in July they did not know the geese would be euthanized. And the college will not stand to have the new gaggle killed. But now the school is taking measures to make the geese "less comfortable."

Eva Lewis, associate vice president of the college, said Tuesday the new geese are welcome on campus -- but she hopes they don't bring friends.

"We've got water, so we assumed new geese would move in. The problem with the geese before was the unmanageable number. We had 150 to 200," Lewis said.

Indeed, before the July roundup, college officials said the geese would frequently block traffic on campus -- and produced 50 to 100 pounds of excrement daily.

"It's not that we don't want geese here," Lewis said. "We expect them. We are going to take preventive measures to try to keep the numbers low."

Some of those measures include strobe lights in the lake, dummy coyotes made of wire and a proposed mesh wire around the ponds that geese don't like to waddle on.

"We try to make them uncomfortable. We are not going to use noise, because that is too disruptive to students," Lewis said.

But a more hands-on approach the college is seeking aims at stymieing goose reproduction.

"We may try a procedure called oiling of the eggs. You spray some vegetable oil or some type of oil on the eggs that prevents them from hatching. As far as I know everyone -- including the Humane Society -- is comfortable with that procedure," Lewis said.

Egg oiling will be easier now that the population is low, because there are fewer nests to monitor.

"We are hoping this will help to keep the population from growing too big, but we aren't sure if it will work," Lewis said. "There's not a one-shot procedure to keep the geese away."

The college is seeking a license from the Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency to oil goose eggs.

James Catanzaro, the college's president, said Tuesday he did not take part in the main decision-making when it came to the goose population issue, but there would not be another roundup and extermination.

"I certainly do think relocating any animal population that might become too abundant in a public environment makes sense; I'm not going to be a part of the extermination of any animal population," Catanzaro said.

According to national Humane Society reports about addling -- or reducing -- populations of Canada geese, egg oiling is an effective means of reducing the population.

The process involves coating a young goose egg with food-grade corn oil, which prevents oxygen from passing through the surface of the egg and keeps the embryo from developing.

TWRA officials did not immediately return phone calls Tuesday to answer questions about egg oiling or the college's license application.

Contact staff writer Louie Brogdon at 423-757-6481 or at lbrogdon@timesfreepress.com.

about Louie Brogdon...

Louie Brogdon began reporting with the Chattanooga Times Free Press in February 2013. Before he came to the Scenic City, Louie lived on St. Simons Island, Ga. and covered crime, courts, environment and government at the Brunswick News, a 17,000-circulation daily on the Georgia coast. While there, he was awarded for investigative reporting on police discipline and other law enforcement issues by the Georgia Press Association. For the Times Free Press, Louie covers Hamilton County ...

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