Goosebusters Crew Makes Geese Disappear

DETROIT (WWJ) – A local company is removing the sometimes angry Canadian creatures that flock here and create big problems for area neighborhoods.

WWJ’s Kathryn Larson reports on a real wild goose chase story, and when gaggles of geese go bad … know who you’re gonna call?  Yup … Goosebusters.

“In 1997-98 we came up with the name and it stuck, so it was a good thing … I talk quiet but I try not to whisper too much, they’re aggressive by nature, but if you just walk, they are pretty good with you – they don’t attack too often,” said Goosebuster’s owner Chris Compton.

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Compton started his company in 1996 and gets calls all the time about the feisty creatures.

Compton says they round-up and remove roughly three to four hundred Canadian Geese each day.  He says it’s really important to keep these trouble makers out of area lakes:

“The e-coli…they’ve linked that to the geese feces …so the lower the e-coli the better it is for the people to swim in it,” said Compton.

Each day the Goosebuster Crew, based in Holly, paddle around area lakes.  Compton says this is the perfect time to remove them, because in the Spring,  they molt and can’t fly. Once captured – he’ll take them to permitted areas and sometimes back to Canada.

  • dae

    We just chase them off our beach. Sometimes, we enlist the dachshund to assist in the chase. I’ve been known to get knee deep into the water to get them gone. Usually, after chasing them off a few times, especially with the dog, they’ll stay away.

  • ASteinberg

    Nice way to scare the public and generate funds for your business, but unfortunately, it’s not true. To justify goose killings, they are pretty much blamed for everything these days. Why, it’s amazing we have lived until 2011 with these dangerous, disease-laden geese in our midst! Well, they are niether aggressive (unless you bother their nest) nor illness-causing.

    The Duluth MN News Tribune had reported as far back as 2006 that the bacteria that has forced the closure of many Great Lakes beaches in recent years may not be coming from people, geese, diapers or sewage spills after all, but that it may in fact, be from the sand.
    A Central Michigan University report published in the Journal of Great Lakes Research confirms that E. coli can live and thrive in beach sand without a warm-blooded host.

    It has been widely believed that E. coli could come only from the guts of warm-blooded animals, and that, if found in the environment, there must have been a recent source of excrement from one of those animals. While not necessarily a threat to human health, E. coli has been used as an indicator of other pathogens in the excrement, such as viruses, that could make people ill.

    But Elizabeth Alm, a Central Michigan University microbiologist, says E. coli is growing in Lake Huron sand with no contribution of fecal matter from people, birds or animals.

    E. coli even survived winter in the sand and during summer expanded to high numbers for several weeks with no new source, Alm found in her research.

    “The source of these bacteria may be resident in the sand,” Alm reported.

    The finding means scientists and public health officials need to find a new indicator for harmful pathogens in the water, Alm and others say. It also could mean that more dangerous organisms may be thriving in the sand.

    “Geese and gulls and diapers may still be sources of some fecal matter and some E. coli, but we clearly can have E. coli without any of them,” Alm said. “We need to do a lot more research to see what else may be naturalized in the sand.”

    It’s not clear what the original source of the sand-dwelling bacteria was, or even if there was an outside source.

    The findings echo research in the Twin Ports by University of Minnesota-Duluth biologist Randall Hicks. Hicks, who is using DNA fingerprints to trace the sources of local bacteria, has found in recent summers that bacteria seemed to be naturalizing in the sand and sediment of the harbor.

    Wind and waves are the culprits that disrupt the bacteria in the sand and bring it in contact with people. Beach monitoring programs then pick it up in water samples and post beaches as closed.

    That’s happening every summer now along the waterfront of the Duluth-Superior harbor where E. coli problems are chronic and some waterfront areas remain posted most of the summer for people to stay away.

    “They (bacteria) seem to do just fine in the sand and sediment, out of the sunlight, if nothing disturbs them. We don’t know how long they’ve been down there or how they got started,” said Heidi Bauman, who leads the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency’s Lake Superior beach monitoring program. “It backs up what they found in Chicago recently where the bacteria in the sand were higher than in the water. So they dug out the sand and brought in new sand and within a few weeks the bacteria levels were right back up.”

    Alm’s tests on Lake Huron were conducted in the “swash” area where waves wash onto the sand — also the area where people have the most contact with sand and water.

    “It means we’re going to have to come up with a better way of determining if the water is safe or not,” Alm said. “Right now, though, E. coli is the best indicator we have.”

    What that means is that you will kill the geese and STILL have an E.coli problem because it isn’t coming from the geese.

    As for other bacteria, whether or not there has ever been one case of a human contracting something via a goose is a different matter them being labelled as a health threat and disease carriers. There is extensive research on this, including opinions from the prestigious Center for Disease Control in Atlanta, GA, and Dr. Milton Friend, former director, Wildlife Research Center, Waterfowl Disease, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service:. According to state and university public health experts including the New Jersey Department of Health, GOOSE FECES ARE FAIRLY INNOCUOUS – innocuous, posing little or no health risks to humans.

    Dr. Timothy Ford, professor at the Harvard School of Public Health and author of “Microbiological Safety of Drinking Water: United States and Global Perspective 1999,” states: “Numbers of Cryptosporidium oocysts associated with Canada geese and waterfowl in general are likely to be MINIMAL, UNIMPORTANT RELATIVE TO THE POTENTIAL for oocysts shed from other forms of wildlife and humans. IN MY MIND, THERE IS NO POSSIBILITY THAT THE Canada goose will ever be a major route of infection. To suggest otherwise is utterly ludicrous and you can quote me.”

    David S. Adam, Coordinator of Health Projects, Vector Control, Infectious and Zoonotic Disease Program for the State of New Jersey Department of Health, writes: “Giardia lamblia, as well as Cryptosporidium, is most commonly transmitted to humans by person-to-person fecal-oral contamination or by water fecally contaminated by humans or other mammals. Infection is usually asymptomatic with children infected more frequently than adults, often in the day-care setting. In summary, the role of Canada geese in the transmission of Cryptospordium or Giardia to humans is not well established, but APPEARS TO BE SMALL COMPARED TO OTHER MODES OF TRANSMISSION.”

    Mr. Adams adds that Canada geese have been wrongly blamed for beach closings: “A number of beach closings including several in New Jersey have been attributed to this cause [high fecal coliform counts attributed to Canada geese]. However, research on this subject (including surveillance conducted in New Jersey) has usually found very low levels of pathogenic bacteria such as Salmonella sp. in the feces of waterfowl not exposed to human sewage effluent.” Another false alarm.

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