Fake coyotes pitted against geese at Connecticut park
MIDDLETOWN, Conn. (AP) — In a battle against goose poop, Middletown has enlisted a pack of plastic coyotes to patrol one of its most-used parks.
The city has spent more than $500,000 in recent years to upgrade Butternut Hollow Park on Butternut Street, and more renovations are underway.
But a gaggle of geese and their nuisance droppings have irked residents. The huge new playground that opened there last year should be complemented by the open grass beside the pond and its fountains, but the droppings create an unpleasant muck that limits the play area.
“Goose droppings and children just don’t mix at that park,” said Public Works Director William Russo.
Three of the plastic coyotes are stationed at Butternut Hollow Park. The replicas have tails that move in the wind to make them appear more realistic.
“Every four or five days we have to move them so the geese don’t get comfortable,” Russo said. “We’re not going to get into trapping or anything like that. We’re just trying to discourage them.”
Moving the coyotes periodically will hopefully spook the geese enough to cut down on droppings around the park, he said.
One day last week as a few families were visiting the playground, the flock walked from an open area across the street from the park past the fake coyotes to the side of the pond abutting an apartment complex, seemingly cautious of the decoy but still undeterred.
Russo said the city buys the coyotes at Dick’s Sporting Goods. Several of the faux predators have also been used at Middletown High School to keep geese off athletic fields.
Butternut Park has been heavily used since the renovations and installation of the new playground. Equipment there appeals to a variety of age groups.
Ongoing work at Butternut is part a $33.45 million city-wide parks modernization package approved by voters in 2015.
A bridge over the pond’s feeder stream was installed recently as the first step toward adding a walking path around the small pond at the park.
Butternut has also been stocked with fish and has hosted a fishing derby for local children. The common council approved funding in 2014 for algae removal and the installation of the fountains that aerate the water and discourage growth.
Goose droppings, rich in nitrogen, were one of the many factors that contributed to extensive algae blooms in the pond that often resulted in a thick green film across the top of the water. Algae growth at Butternut has been minimal since then.
Information from: Hartford Courant, http://www.courant.com