Giving geese the boot

KELOLAND.com Original

SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (KELO) — Geese have been causing problems for the Sioux Falls Regional Airport for decades. The geese seem to cause more turmoil around the winter season.

According to Sioux Falls Animal Control Supervisor Julie DeJong, the geese population increases from roughly 1,000 in the summer to 6,000-8,000 in the winter. Propane cannons and other sound cannons will be used by Sioux Falls Animal Control and the South Dakota Department of Game, Fish and Parks to scare geese away from the Sioux Falls Regional Airport. 

“We do have a permit from the fish and wildlife service to actually kill some geese if they become a problem but our choice is always the non lethal way first trying to get them to move along choose a different area and using the propane cannons is safe, its ecologically friendly and its something that has worked for us in the past,” DeJong said.

The Canadian Geese are flying south for the winter, but one of their favorite spots to feed is right next to the airport. That’s why animal control has installed goose cannons. As you can see, they’re working.

Without a goose in sight it seems these cannons are doing their job. Milo Hartson is the Lead Animal Control Officer for Sioux Falls Animal Control. He says the group has been using the cannons for the past few years.

The cannons do not harm the geese and are used around Elmwood Golf Course. The golf course is near the airport and helps to deter the birds away from the airport. If you hear a loud “bang” in the area, Hartson says there is no reason to be alarmed.

“They’re basically just a hollow tube with a computer program in it. It shoots a little bit of propane into the cylinder. It ignites it for a controlled explosion. And it just makes a loud bang. It does not shoot any projectiles or anything like that. It does not hurt the geese. It just makes a loud bang,” Hartson said.

In January 2000, the Sioux Falls Regional Airport began the initiative of buying and training a dog to scare away geese from planes. Just a month after starting the process of getting the pooch, a commercial airliner hit a flock of geese.

About five years later, Suzy came to aid the airport.

Due to the number of incidents with geese and aircrafts, whether that be in South Dakota or otherwise, the US Fish and Wildlife Service created a new law allowing people to kill Canadian Geese and their eggs if the birds caused problems.

Another way the Rapid City Regional Airport tried to curb the rising numbers of geese was by asking wildlife officials to consider a special hunting season. That airport had been using timer-controlled cannons, horn blasts and hand-held cap-guns to scare the birds away.

Now today, we use the “goose cannons.” Hartson says they’re more efficient and easy to maintain.

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