Two years later and the geese are still handing the City of Northfield its ass

Exactly one year ago yesterday, I blogged about the lack of progress in the City’s effort to control the problem of Canada geese shitting in Ames Park, Riverside Park, Babcock Park, and Sesquicentennial Plaza.  I suggested a solution (Border Collies), other suggestions emerged in the discussion thread, and the Northfield News drew attention to the problem with an article, editorial, and letters to the editor.

Canada geese in Riverside Park near Village on the Cannon Canada geese in Riverside Park near Village on the Cannon Canada geese in Riverside Park near Village on the Cannon
But as you can see from these photos of Riverside Park this week, the problem is worse than ever. Are condo owners at Village on the Cannon pissed? Not only are the geese spoiling their ‘front yard’ and adjacent walking trails, they are likely hurting the sales of condos. Ironically, on their association’s home page, they feature a photo of the geese on the Cannon River. Oy.

Geese shit in Ames Park Canada geese in Babcock Park Geese shit on Sesquicentennial Plaza Geese shit on Sesquicentennial Plaza Geese shit on Sesquicentennial Plaza
It’s just as bad in Ames Park and in and around the Peggy Prowe Pedestrian Bridge in Babcock Park. It’s especially bad on Sesquicentennial Legacy Plaza. I wonder if Ray ‘Jake’ Jacobson knows what the geese are doing to the granite pavers surrounding his ‘Harvest’ sculpture?

I waved Northfield Park and Recreation Advisory Board (PRAB) chair Nathan Knutson over to my corner office at GBM yesterday and told him I had just taken photos of the problem. He said the issue came up at the PRAB retreat recently and that they were considering what to do.  I don’t see anything about it their recent minutes and agendas but I hope this blog post will help focus attention on the problem.


  1. Paul Krause said:

    Thanks for the post Griff. Just went by the Harvest sculpture and was saddened to see the awful mess my Canadian brothers and sisters have created. Let’s at least do some periodic cleanup. This can’t be healthy for the folks who visit our beautiful river walk.

    July 8, 2011
  2. amanda mcbrady said:

    these are some crappy pictures.

    July 8, 2011
  3. john george said:

    Yeah, you really don’t want to take a gander at them.

    July 8, 2011
  4. Jim herreid said:

    The first thing the City needs to do is. Put some nice Signs thatsay “Please Don’t Feed The Geese”. Now that is simple isn’t it? It is worth a try.

    July 9, 2011
  5. john george said:

    Here’s an entrepenurial idea. Why doesn’t somone open a goose-down pillow factory and meat market. If enough of those things disappeared, it would frighten off the rest of the flock. Oh, shucks! When the goose population decreased, the business would have to close and we would see more unemployment. I guess that’s why I’m not an entrepeneur. 😉

    July 9, 2011
  6. Judy Becker said:

    Get a grant to develop diapers for geese. Include money in grant to pay people to change diapers. Something for the MN government to work on . . .

    July 12, 2011
  7. john george said:

    Judy- Yeah, sure. We can’t even fund education and medicaid. But, I’m sure taking care of a bunch of geese ranks right up there. 😉

    July 12, 2011
  8. Beth Kallestad said:

    People need to STOP feeding the geese for one thing. Some nice signage would be helpful. The City of Rochester has done a great job on their shoreland restoration and geese reduction efforts on their park (Mineral Springs I think). I’m sure they would share some advice with Northfield.

    July 12, 2011
  9. john george said:

    Beth- There is a “Mineral Springs Park” in Owatonna. When I lived there, there was no goose problem in that park, possibly because the stream going through it was quite small. Morehouse Park, on the Straight River by the Municipal Power Plant, was another story. It was just as bad as Ames Park. It would be interesting to see what Rochester did with theirs. Perhaps they were able to get them to migrate to Owatonna and Northfield. 😉

    July 12, 2011
  10. Beth Kallestad said:

    John – you’re right I had the park name wrong. I think it is Silver Lake park in Rochester. My understanding is Rochester put some good effort into getting public support for the planting, did a better job with the plantings (wider, etc) and put up signs and did education about the geese. Their park is on a lake that probably didn’t get hit with flooding like Ames Park did.

    You may be right – maybe they did just tell the geese life is better up north. 🙂

    July 13, 2011
  11. Griff Wigley said:


    Prairie Restoration was involved in the Silver Lake project:

    Restoration of native plant communities can also contribute to a reduction in pollutants, which is the purpose of a shoreline restoration project at Silver Lake in Rochester, Minnesota. A buffer zone of native plant species is expected to combat shoreline erosion, help deter massive geese populations, and absorb storm water runoff to reduce the amount of sediment and nutrients entering the lake. The rich diversity of plant species will also provide welcoming habitats for a wide variety of wildlife.

    July 13, 2011
  12. Jane McWilliams said:

    So, Beth, are you saying that the plantings along the bank on the Ames Park side aren’t wide enough to keep the geese from communting from the river to the park?

    What did they do around the lagoons on the Carleton campus? Was that successful?

    July 15, 2011
  13. Beth Kallestad said:

    I’m not sure if they are wide enough or not but am speculating that may be an issue. What I’ve heard is the plantings need to be deep enough and high enough so the geese are afraid of predators. I’m also thinking the spaces left for people to remove canoes are letting them through. Not sure what other options are out there to fix these issues but they seems to be problems.

    The Carleton plantings are growing well as far as I know. Am hopeful they will do the trick and keep geese away from the lakes.

    July 18, 2011
  14. Griff Wigley said:

    Goose poop has been added to the PRAB menu agenda this week.

    Ink-stained wretch that I am, I was delighted to hear today from the Chair of the Park & Rec Advisory Board (PRAB), Nathan Knutson, that this issue is on the agenda this week, Thursday @7pm @ the library.

    Whose going?

    July 19, 2011
  15. Geese and geese poops were a big issue around Lake of the Isles, and a decade or more ago they did a shoreline “restoration” of plantings, I think the water level fell too and on the northern end it’s more of a wetland now, and I’ve not heard all the sturm and drang about goose poops and geese peeps. Sounds similar to the Rochester plan. What if they just stopped mowing 10 feet from shore for the rest of the year as a start? I still favor the Border Collie.

    July 20, 2011
  16. Griff Wigley said:

    The geese are now invading Bridge Square. A local executive director of an unnamed historical society on Bridge Square who wishes to remain anonymous sent me this photo from his smartphone yesterday:

    So now when people spread their blankets on the grass in Bridge Square to listen to music, or when little kids scamper about on the grass there, they’ll be bringing home physical specimens of goose shit and indelible memories of their experience in downtown Northfield.

    July 21, 2011
  17. Griff Wigley said:

    Good news. I attended last night’s Park & Rec Advisory Board meeting and they decided to request that this issue be brought before an upcoming (August?) City Council Work Session, with the recommendation (suggestion?) that an Ad Hoc task force be created to study the problem and recommend solutions, eg, dogs, decoys, landscaping, removal, etc.

    There was also discussion about the pros and cons of an ordinance that would prohibit the feeding of ducks and geese, as that’s seen as a contributing factor to the problem on the Sesqui Plaza. In the meantime, the City will place some “Don’t feed the wildlife” signs there.

    July 22, 2011
  18. Jon Denison said:

    I thought the Park & Rec board was an advisory task force designed to study problems and recommend solutions…

    July 23, 2011

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