SEQUIM — Armed with expensive waterfowl-repellent spray, city employees are warding off Canada geese that invade the Water Reclamation Demonstration Park and leave evidence of their visit behind.
“It’s been getting worse every year,” said Sequim City Councilman Don Hall, who is the council’s parks and recreation board liaison.
“I go out there every day, and I get complaints from people.”
Hall informed council members about the goose-poop problem last month, saying he believes spraying nontoxic and biodegradable grape-seed oil-based solution on the park’s grass is the long-term solution.
The spray, called Migrate, comes at a high price, about $250 a gallon, said Jeff Edwards, public works’ city parks coordinator.
But he said it beats the alternative: mounds of goose droppings where children and adults often tread.
And as recreational fields and trails at both the demonstration and adjoining Carrie Blake parks are increasingly used, more park-goers are at risk.
Migrate is a liquid goose repellent made from a blend of food-grade ingredients extracted from common sources such as Concord grapes, neroli oil, acacia and gardenia blossoms, according to the company’s website at http://tinyurl.com/75slbm6.
The company promotes it as environmentally friendly, nontoxic for plants and harmless to people and pets.
The goose repellent meets the Environmental Protection Agency’s criteria, presenting the least possible risk to treated areas, applicators and wildlife, the site says.
“There’s hundreds of them, and they’ll come back if it’s not sprayed,” Edwards said of the geese.
The repellent concentrate is diluted with water for spraying.
“The stuff will stay on the ground for two to three months,” Edwards said.
So far, the city has sprayed about 3 gallons on the park grounds east of North Blake Avenue.
Edwards said its application in late February will prevent the geese from nesting and messing on the 13-acre Albert Haller Memorial Playfields just leveled, lined with irrigation and seeded with grass for opening in the late spring or early summer.
Edwards said the geese — plus a number of ducks from nearby Carrie Blake Park — also threatened the grassy area nearest the park’s James Center band shell until it was sprayed with repellent.
Because it is not sold locally, Edwards went online to make a bulk purchase of about $4,000 worth of the spray, a discount for the city.
The expense and effort is much appreciated by those who frequent the park, such as the Sequim RC Aquanauts, a group of remote-control sailboat hobbyists who gather around the Water Reclamation Demonstration Park’s pond, where the poop regularly piles up.
“It’s pretty bad there. We usually pick it up in the morning,” said Aquanauts member Jack Ronda, who joined others in the group to tell the city parks and recreation board their concerns about goose-poop control.
The group has met for 10 years at the pond Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays, and its shorelines are often crowded with fowl and littered with their waste on its perimeter.
Youths frequent the pond during trout fishing season, too.
Spraying the grass and keeping the park poop-free “makes people happy,” Edwards said.
“At least we aren’t chasing them around with guns or anything.”
The city will again spray the area, including the new play fields, in late February, Edwards said, in advance of waterfowl nesting season.
The spray, he said, makes geese and ducks go nesting elsewhere.
That’s good news to Craig Stevenson, Sequim Family Advocates president, whose nonprofit group of parents last year raised about $300,000 to build the new Albert Haller Memorial Playfields at the Water Reclamation Demonstration Park.
The playfields, which last fall were planted in grass, will be ready for their first youth soccer matches and other community recreational uses this spring and summer.
“I know it’s a serious problem that municipalities have had to deal with,” Stevenson said.
“I’m gratified they are seeking a thoughtful approach to this.”
The spraying has shown results so far.
No geese gathered around the pond after the area was sprayed earlier this month.
“We spray that area down,” Edwards said.
“We also sprayed around the band shell, and they moved away from there.”
________Sequim-Dungeness Valley Editor Jeff Chew can be reached at 360-681-2391 or at [email protected]