Essex County

Car lot tactic seems to (kind of) scare geese away

LYNN, Mass. — It is a question that sounds vaguely existential.

“When they leave here at night time, where do they go,” asked John Baker. “Do they go to Middleton? Do they go to Danvers?”

“They” are a flock of Canadian Geese. And wherever they go at night time, it’s back to Lynn by day — and to a heart-shaped body of water known as Goldfish Pond.

“Originally it was named Sweetheart Pond,” said Baker, a founding member of the Goldfish Pond Association. “It was built in remembrance of a loved one.”

For years, the Association made up of neighbors, has toiled to clean up the pond and surrounding park. And with good results. There is nary a soda can nor cigarette butt in sight. But there’s one thing the Association can’t seem to get ahead of — goose poop.

“As you walk around, you see the droppings from the geese,” Baker pointed to the sidewalk around the pond. It is smeared in blackish-green.

“It’s a constant battle just to try to keep it clean,” said Baker.

Recently, the Association rolled out a new weapon against the geese. A set of three cylindrical blow-ups similar to what used car lots employ to lure customers in. The balloons — or air puppets — are mounted on the island that sits in the middle of Goldfish Pond.

“And the purpose of that is just to try to keep the geese outta here permanently,” said Baker.

That is a tall order — given the geese return from their night digs to Goldfish Pond every morning. But in the short term, the yellow, gyrating figures do seem to work. Minutes after inflation, waterfowl swam from the island — and ended up on shore. Which would seem to defeat the no-poop purpose.

“In reality, you’re dealing with nature,” Baker said.

That’s exactly how sisters Belinda and Michele Winslow feel. They once lived near the pond and have fond memories of coming as kids.

“I think the geese here are a beautiful presence,” said Belinda. “They’ve been here for many years. They may make a mess but they’re in their own habitat here. Where else can they go?”

“I think they’re beautiful,” added Michele. “They’re not bothering anyone.”

Well... that’s disputable. Baker points to the annual events the Association puts on by Goldfish Pond.

“We have a movie night we have a flea market and we have an arts fair that’s coming up soon,” he said. “And it’s difficult when you have to maneuver around all the droppings. That’s unpleasant to everybody.”

It’s also unsanitary. Baker said when it rains, goose droppings get washed into the pond — which could potentially threaten aquatic life.

“The neighbors that live here want to beautify it,” Baker said. “A place to come, sit on a bench, read a newspaper.”

But that may just have to mean sharing the place with the geese.

“We came by yesterday and the blow-ups were flying around and the geese were here having a good time,” said Belinda Winslow. “They’re part of nature. They’re beautiful.”

And besides, she added, why single out a single species’ contribution to indiscriminate pooping when there’s plenty of dog waste left behind?

Speaking of dogs... Park Visitor Arnaldo Rivera said he’s got a better solution than the blow-ups.

“You put a doggie out there that’s pretty healthy, energetic — he sees the geese, he’ll chase them out,” Rivera said. “Once they know the dog is there, they won’t come back.”

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