SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (KELO) – Parkgoers and golfers may have noticed an increased presence of geese grazing the grass and hanging around in the water lately. With their feathers and the waste they leave behind, the birds have been deemed a nuisance to pedestrians. 

Late summer is molting season for geese where they shed their flight feathers and are unable to fly. This causes them to populate parks near water. Animal Control Officer Tanner Bruns said the geese are native to this area and won’t relocate them. 

“If we relocate them, as soon as they can fly again they would be coming right back to this area,” he said. “Geese nest in the same location every year so they’ll migrate and come back to the same location to nest year in and year out.”

The birds aren’t aggressive, but this time of year their goslings– baby geese– are hatching and the mothers can become protective. Bruns encouraged people not to approach or touch the geese and especially don’t feed them. 

The City of Sioux Falls has an ordinance that makes feeding geese in public parks or along the bike trails illegal. Violation of the ordinance could result in at least a $500 fine or imprisonment in the county jail for no more than 30 days. 

Bruns said Animal Control does enact measures during the fall and spring to help reduce the number of geese that migrate and nest here. From November to May, they “haze” the geese to encourage them to fly elsewhere along with testing and removing fertilized embryos from geese eggs in the spring. 

Parks aren’t the only places geese have become a nuisance. Golf courses have also seen large numbers of geese on their courses, which can affect play. 

Steve Vanderbeek, a supervisor at Elmwood Golf Course, said they spend hours in the morning clearing the playing greens and fairways of feathers and feces so they don’t get in the way of golfers. 

“We get golfers complaining about it but they have to understand that there’s only so much you can do,” he said. “They get used to our efforts so quickly.”

Vanderbeek said they work with Animal Control and the United States Department of Agriculture to manage the birds, but there isn’t much they can do to completely get rid of the problem. Elmwood has also had to reseed the turf on the courses multiple times because the geese will peck at the grass and ruin it.

“The damage to the greens is pretty annoying,” he said. “Especially when they’re here all the time, it’s just a reoccurring thing that happens over and over.” 

Bruns said if people see a large flock of geese at the parks, they don’t need to call Animal Control, but if a goose is injured or hit by a vehicle they can assist with moving the animal. 

“Just leave them be. Let them do their thing, you do your thing and there shouldn’t be any issues,” Bruns said. “They’re just trying to eat and feed their babies and they aren’t really a threat to humans at all.”