For anyone visiting city parks to enjoy Rapid City's resident and migratory waterfowl population, there’s an obvious unwritten caveat.
Watch the ducks and geese and watch your step.
Scott Anderson, parks division manager for the city, said droppings from primarily Canada geese and other waterfowl are a messy problem year-round in areas of the city with open water, including Canyon Lake, Meadowbrook Golf Course and Memorial Park, and along Rapid Creek.
In spite of a city ordinance prohibiting public feeding of waterfowl and other wildlife and an annual effort to keep the city’s waterfowl population in check, geese and ducks continue to gather during the fall and spring migrations and spend the winter sheltering on water that remains unfrozen.
“It doesn’t help with the winter time and the migrant geese population. We’re always going to have that come through. It’s always going to be there with the open water,” Anderson said.
Anderson said parks division employees deal with the mess as best they can, but there is no specific protocol for dealing with droppings.
A few years ago, the city considered another pre-emptive measure, the use of a drone designed to make eagle noises to help scare the geese off.
The drone could be programmed to fly along fairways near the golf course to frighten away the geese. The proposal was written off as too expensive, Anderson said.
“Maybe if we could get some eagles to nest here that would help keep the geese away,” he said.
The city uses tractor-mounted motorized brushes to sweep walkways and the bike path and snow plowing also helps remove droppings from areas near Meadowbrook Golf Course, Canyon Lake Park and Memorial Park downtown near the Rushmore Plaza Civic Center.
There’s no real good mechanism for cleaning it off the grass until spring mowing season begins, he said.
In the summer, the city will work with Game, Fish & Parks to reduce the resident Canada goose population through rendering the embryos of nesting eggs unable to develop and through a roundup during the molting season in June and early July when the geese replace damaged or missing feathers with new ones and are unable to fly.
This year’s roundup resulted in about 90 geese being captured and killed, with the meat donated to the Cornerstone Rescue Mission.
“The meat does go for a good cause,” Anderson said.