Seriously: Do not feed the geese

Seriously: Do not feed the geese

Wildlife experts say there's something everyone can do to help manage the Giant Canada goose problem: Stop feeding them.

Park officials in East Central Illinois said they often see people feeding them bread, birdseed and leftover picnic scraps — sometimes right next to "Do not feed geese" signs.

"I've had families come to rent a paddle boat, and here come Mom and Dad carrying two loaves of bread," said Janet Soesbe, manager of Lake House at Crystal Lake Park. "We always try to educate them on why it's not good for the park or the geese."

Among the reasons it's harmful, according to the Urbana Park District:

1. Malnutrition. Wildlife develop skills to obtain food containing nutrients for survival, and those skills help maintain a balance between them and their natural habitat. The balance is compromised by artificial feeding, which is physically harmful to birds and a cause of malnutrition.

2. Dependency. Canada geese gather in areas with abundant food and space. Hand-feeding causes them to concentrate in small urban areas that can't support large numbers. They rapidly become conditioned to and dependent on people for food and can become a nuisance and aggressive.

3. Disease. Lowered nutrition and overpopulation allow disease to spread more quickly.

4. Water pollution. Feeding at ponds and lakeside beaches contributes significantly to pollution in the form of fecal coliform bacteria. As a result, water quality suffers from the excess nitrogen that runs off the land during storms. Too many nutrients in the water leads to an overgrowth in algae, which affects fish and other organisms.

5. Delayed migration. Feeding alters normal migration patterns of waterfowl by shortening or even eliminating them.

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