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100 geese to be removed from Byrd Park by N.C. non-profit

CWR adopts domestic geese that exhibit two major risk factors: vulnerability to predation by...
CWR adopts domestic geese that exhibit two major risk factors: vulnerability to predation by local coyotes and the presence of angel wing, a deformity caused by consumption of processed foods such as white bread.(Pixabay)
Published: Sep. 23, 2020 at 11:16 AM EDT
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RICHMOND, Va. (WWBT) - With permission of Richmond’s Department of Parks, Recreation & Community Facilities (PRCF), a non-profit from North Carolina will adopt about one hundred domestic, non-migrating Canada geese within Byrd Park.

The geese will be removed from the park on Saturday, Sept. 26, according to the Richmond Office of Park and Recreation. The decision, however, has ruffled the feathers of some parkgoers.

“Stuff like this is tradition with my family. My daughter is in her thirty’s, grown, moved out, and moved on, but we did this since she was a kid,” said Darius Uzzell of Chesterfield. It’s a tradition he continues to this day with his 8-year-old son.

He was unhappy to hear that the geese were on their way out of the park but felt even more upset for the other like him, who regularly feed the geese.

“There are going to be families that are going to show up on Sunday morning because a lot of people will do this right after church. They’re going to show up Sunday morning, and the geese are not going to be here,” he added. Uzzell makes it a point to show that he does feed the geese the proper food, as he tossed handful after handful of the pellets into Swan Lake

After the geese are removed, they will be adopted out to the Caroline Waterfowl Rescue in North Carolina. The city cites the moves as being a benefit to the health of the animals, along with improving the health and safety of the park and its wildlife.

“The geese are going to be allowed to live this healthier lifestyle,” said Parks and Recreation spokesperson, Tamara Jenkins, “You’ve had some folks that may have been able to feed them what they’re supposed to be eating: the fowl birdseed. You have other residents and visitors that may have been feeding them white bread - and that is actually a detriment to their health.”

The office says that human food could actually end up deforming the geese’s wings, giving them what’s known as “angel wings”, and stopping them from being able to fly. Jenkins added that the removal of the geese is an effort from three community groups (Byrd Park Geese Management Task Force, the Friends of William Byrd Park, and the Byrd Park Civic League) to also address other issues related to the animals.

“It will help with the algae issues. It will also help with the geese droppings that are everywhere,” Jenkins added.

Regardless, some parkgoers are not ready to see these birds make a permanent migration south.

“They are going to pay the price, and have a traumatic removal over the fact that humans put them here, and humans poorly managing them,” said Whitney Walters of Richmond.

Sara Joyner, of Henrico, mentioned that she would see the geese daily when she used to live and work by Byrd Park. She only comes on occasion nowadays but says the experience will be a very different one once they are removed.

“I know that the travel for them going down to North Carolina will be stressful, so I’m concerned about that, but I hope that they go to good homes,” Joyner said.

Carolina Waterfowl Rescue (CWR) is a non-profit safe haven for geese and other waterfowl located in Charlotte, North Carolina. CWR is staffed by federally licensed wildlife rehabilitators who provide sanctuary, rescue, and rehabilitation for wildlife, farmed, and exotic animals.

CWR adopts domestic geese that exhibit two major risk factors: vulnerability to predation by local coyotes and the presence of angel wing, a deformity caused by consumption of processed foods such as white bread.

It also leads to Canada geese taking up year-round residency in the park rather than their natural instinct to migrate.

The non-profit says providing a new, safe home for the domestic geese will allow them to recover and will enhance the condition of the lakes and paths for use by the public.

For more information about Carolina Waterfowl Rescue, click here.

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