Website Review: gogeese.com

Canada Geese got their 15 minutes of fame earlier this year when a flock banded together into a makeshift terror cell and brought down a USAir flight in New York’s Hudson River. Their suicide mission into the engines of Flight 1549 nearly killed all aboard, with tragedy averted only by the heroic actions of pilot Capt. “Sully” Sullenberger. Commander of the bird strike, Field Marshall “Goosey” Goose, didn’t survive to make the demands of his group known, though many believe they were stridently opposed to America’s War on Nuisance Fowl.

Since declining severely in numbers due to over-hunting last century, the Canada Goose has made a strong comeback, with its conservation status updated from “threatened” to “freaking everywhere” in recent years. Many have lost their migratory habits, preferring instead to reside in suburban office parks, where they foul the grounds with fecal droppings, molted feathers and rejected job applications. Growing to as large as 15 pounds, they often become aggressive to protect their young from their only remaining natural enemy, the Mexican landscaping crew. The two foes can often be spotted in a confrontational stand-off, the geese honking almost as loud as the leaf-blowing machines they mistake for a rival subspecies.

The birds have become such a problem in some locations as to cause potential health hazards, both through their pathogenic poop (up to a pound per day per bird) and their willingness to attack passing pedestrians. A cottage industry has sprung up in many areas to control populations in a more financially prudent way than sucking them four or five at a time into the turbines of passenger jets. Some of these use herding dogs to convince the geese that the next office park over is a much better choice than the one that saw fit to hire a “goose-busters” crew.

In this week’s Website Review, we look at one such enterprise, located on the Internet at gogeese.com.

The home page describes the business as “the humane and friendly way to remove problem geese,” noting that the giant birds are still technically protected, though it’s hard to imagine anybody at the federal level is really going to care. There are a few photos of the offenders, acting all innocent and natural, and then some great pictures of the Border Collies used in the patrol. These dogs are the eager beavers of the canine set, fired up on so many hormonal stimulants that their piercing look alone is known to make geese lose control of their bowels, though that’s pretty much their default setting anyway.

Under the “Contact Us” tab, we meet some of the highly trained anti-goose forces: there’s “Ivy,” the company’s first dog; “Gus,” an avid swimmer who will follow the birds into the water; “Tipper,” a new addition with almost limitless energy; “Diane Travis,” a former landscape designer; and “MaryAnn Mueller,” a retired physical therapist whose background in inflicting pain and suffering serves her well in this new endeavor. Together, they form a team given a superior rating from Angie’s List for their work to rid the Charlotte area of these aggressive pests from the north.

Another tab titled “The Problem” sketches out why it is we should hate these handsome animals with their black heads, white “chinstraps,” and adorable yellow-plumed gosling youngsters. They cause soil erosion, they aggressively protect their nests (a potential legal liability for property owners), and they produce cryptosporidium, chlamydia psittaci and rotavirus, which you can tell are hazardous just by their Latinate names. When they take to the air, they honk and they strafe and they form their flock into a characteristic double “V,” Vowing Victory over their human tormentors.

In “The Solution” pulldown, we learn more about the strategy used by the dogs in their battle with the birds. The instinct of the Border Collie is to herd, not attack. “They can quickly persuade even the most stubborn geese that future peace can only be obtained by finding another place to live,” reads the playfully written copy. The dogs’ “famous predator stance and crouching crawl” combined with their “intense gaze” will quickly intimidate the geese into leaving, at least for the ten minutes or so it takes to gather the collies back into their car. This page also discloses that Goose Busters uses other methods for bird pestering, including remote-controlled boats and lasers. There’s a picture of a toy-sized speedboat racing through the water in pursuit, though unfortunately Ivy and Gus and Tipper don’t appear to be aboard. (Maybe they’re water-skiing just out of frame.) They don’t explain how the lasers work, but I understand the geese now have much-improved vision.

The folks at gogeese.com also make efforts to get to the root of the problem by attacking its source, the vicious egg. “While it may seem cruel, keeping the geese from having a successful nesting season is the most humane way of controlling their population,” they write in a section called “Egg Depredation.” When the eggs are only a few days old, they are slathered with corn oil, which keeps them from developing. Then Goose Busters cruelly allow the mother to sit on the nest for another two to three weeks (or for as long as she can without sliding off) before finally removing the eggs. This tricks the parents into avoiding a late-season attempt at another go. They soon lose their flight feathers in the summer molt, tying them down to an empty nest when they’d rather be stretching their wings with weekend trips to mountain crafts festivals and that cute bed-and-breakfast that doesn’t allow kids.

Finally, there’s a description of “Levels of Service” available for clients. You can sign up for a yearly contract, where the patrol team “assumes total responsibility for goose control.” You don’t have to call them; they automatically show up five times a week “after an initial intense period of a week or two,” though you have to wonder how intense it is if they have to keep coming back virtually every day. You can also get this on a monthly or seasonal contract, or on an on-call basis where you’re billed a la carte. (No credit is mentioned for any foie gras that might accidentally be harvested.) You get a report detailing the dates and times of visits, number of geese found, and any other pertinent information. Proper permitting of the egg depredation activities will be provided, along with the year-end report you have to send the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service documenting your senseless slaughter.

All in all, gogeese.com is a simple but helpful site if you manage an office park, golf course or planned community and your job is to keep nature out of there. Unlike similar services that use retriever-style dogs, who prefer to discourage the birds by munching on them, the collie patrol is Humane Society and PETA-approved. It’s the compassionate and cost-efficient way to pursue a professional wild goose chase.

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One Response to “Website Review: gogeese.com”

  1. Website Review: Or maybe not « DavisW's Blog Says:

    […] I could update everybody on the ineffectiveness of a service I wrote about last fall (see https://davisw.wordpress.com/2009/11/13/website-review-gogeese-com/ ). I spent my lunch break Thursday walking around the office park where I work, enjoying a warm […]

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