City battles geese and comes away clean
Wheaton, Ill., had a honking big problem. Each spring and fall, multitudes of geese flocked to the city’s parks, leaving droppings that littered paths, walkways and playing fields. Following several unsuccessful attempts to repel the birds, the city’s Park District sought — and found — an efficient way to clean up the waste.
Descending on Wheaton during the nesting and migratory seasons, the geese congregate in five parks that are situated near lagoons and other water sources. “You can get flocks by the thousands,” says Terry Turnquist, assistant superintendent of parks for the city. “It’s pure devastation.”
Attempts to displace the geese have failed. The Park District has sprayed repellent on athletic fields and lagoon banks; it has shot signal pistols; and it has even brought in dogs to frighten the geese from the parks. Momentarily bewildered, the birds have nonetheless stood their ground.
At its worst, the waste problem prompted 20 calls per week from angry residents. “We’d race in with a crew of five to six with brooms and blowers,” Turnquist explains. The crews swept droppings off as-phalt and concrete trails, but that only moved the problem onto the grass.
That changed in Spring 2000, when the Park District purchased the ATLV 4300 Litter Vac from Minneapolis-based Tennant. The all-terrain vacuum is shared by the affected parks, and, with it, one person can remove the goose droppings from asphalt, concrete and turf.
Since Wheaton began using the vacuum, residents have stopped complaining about goose droppings. Pleased with the results, Turnquist has put the machinery to work for additional purposes. For example, during the summer months (when the geese are away), the crews use the vacuum to clean debris off tennis and basketball courts.