There’s no doubt looking up to watch a great “V” of Canada geese honking their way across the sky has a way of drawing out a smile.
That is, unless you’ve ever had to walk across a soccer field or golf course where those geese have come to rest and stay awhile.
One goose can consume up to four pounds of grass per day and deposit about three pounds of fecal matter daily.
“It’s definitely a mess, and I’ve been looking for a way to deal with it for a while now. But I think we have finally found the answer,” Mike Hicks, Juan de Fuca Electoral Area director, said, referring to his new “goose poop” machine.
“The whole idea was to keep the playing fields in Sooke, where kids play soccer, clean. And now, we can definitely do that.”
Laura Lockhart, the president of Sooke Soccer Club, is thrilled.
“This has been a long time coming and we’re just so grateful that Mike (Hicks) was concerned about the problem. Everyone is really happy about this. We’ll have the cleanest fields anywhere,” Lockhart said.
Having those clean playing fields is important for reasons that transcend the “ick factor” of sliding through goose droppings during a soccer game.
Geese feces usually contain the parasites cryptosporidium, giardia, coliform, and campylobacter. Crytosporidium poses the most serious health hazard, since it causes cryptosporidiosis, an illness that can cause watery diarrhea and dehydration.
The infection usually goes away within a week or two, but if you have a compromised immune system, a cryptosporidium infection can become life-threatening without treatment.
The “goose poop” machine will be used by the Juan de Fuca Electoral Area, the School District and SEAPARC.
“SEAPARC will be using it out on their golf course, so that will make things a little more pleasant for the golfers,” Hicks said.
The removal of fecal matter on the golf course may also help to reduce unwanted algae blooms and excessive plant growth in ponds and water hazards.
Hicks plans to demonstrate the machine to the Sooke School District and to other municipalities in the hopes that they opt to buy their own machines.
“The machines aren’t that expensive. We got this one using the Juan de Fuca Electoral Area’s share of the gas tax. The total cost was $9,750, landed in Sooke,” Hicks said.
The machines are manufactured in New Zealand, which has its own Canada goose problems and where the iconic fowl are considered pest animals. The birds have been classified as unprotected game animals and hunting them is encouraged.