Parks Officials Approve Plan for Border Collies to Scare Geese out of Mead Park


Parks officials on Wednesday accepted a private group’s offer to pay a Wilton-based company about $3,000 to use border collies to run Canada geese off of the large baseball field at Mead Park this spring.

The birds’ droppings are an “enormous problem” and baseball players are in regular contact with the fecal matter just in virtue of playing the game, Paul Giusti, who identified himself as representing Friends of New Canaan Baseball, told the Park and Recreation Commission at its regular monthly meeting.

“I think all of you know it is really bad [for baseball players], let alone [for] the toddlers that are there that are crawling around in this and these geese are getting onto Mellick and Gamble also,” Giusti said at the meeting, held in the Douglass Room at Lapham Community Center. He was joined by Jim Higgins, president of New Canaan Baseball Softball Inc.

“We will do the first three months during the baseball season and see how this all works out. It’s not like it’s a bullet-proof kind of solution, but I think it will improve the situation for the toddlers, for the ballplayers, for everybody that is there to have a better experience at Mead Park.”

The commission approved the plan 8-0, breaking from its own policy of waiting one full month between a hearing a request or making a decision on it, citing the timing of the baseball season’s planned start in early April. The commission also approved an offer from Higgins and Giusti to pay for some capital upgrades to the large baseball field where the New Canaan High School varsity baseball team plays its home games.

Scaring geese away with herding dogs is an acceptable practice, according to the Humane Society of the United States.

Experts agree that the most viable long-term solution to ridding an area of Canada geese is through “egg addling.” Under the Humane Society’s guidelines, that involves a two-person job that starts by moving a mother goose off of her nest, then testing a newly laid egg by dropping it in water to see if it sinks—if not, the air sac inside has developed too far to destroy the creature inside. If the egg is OK for “addling,” a coat of corn oil is applied, sealing the shell and preventing the gosling inside from developing. That failure in reproduction for the female goose that laid the egg is tied to the area of the nest itself, and she will attempt to have goslings in a different spot the following season. (See a video of egg-addling at Lakeview Cemetery here.)

Geese who are consistently frightened or annoyed by a perceived predator (which border collies, in fact, are not) will be more likely to move to a different area, the Humane Society says.

Guisti said for the goose-scaring at Mead Park, the group that’s offered to foot the bill for a three-month trial this spring has selected Chris Santopietro of Wilton-based Geese Relief LLC. The company first registered with Connecticut in 1998, according to records on file with the Secretary of the State.

Santopietro told commissioners at the meeting he and his team will not only run border collies to scare off the geese, but also addle eggs as part of their fee. (Santopietro also said he preferred to pierce the egg shell in addling, which is not a Humane Society-recommended method, since it may fail to finish the job and lead to deformed goslings being born—see page 8 here.)

“Our dogs never touch or harm a goose,” Santopietro said.

Recreation Director Steve Benko said the town has used Santopietro’s company to move Canada geese out of Kiwanis Park with success.

Commissioners suggested someone contact Animal Control to let them know a dog would be off-leash at Mead. Chairman Sally Campbell asked whether three months on the job would work.

Santopietro replied that a year-round program would be required for completely goose-free parks, putting an estimate for services at about $15,000 annually.

In addressing the commission, Santopietro invoked the specter of liability on public land, claiming in one anecdote about a little girl that goose droppings may be a serious health risk. Experts say the droppings are primarily a nuisance.

Santopietro said that in his 17 years in business he has worked with many municipalities in Connecticut and New York.

He mentioned that he had attended St. Aloysius School and, by way of explaining his company’s fee of $250 per week, added: “I have six routes my guys do and within that route if I had you guys [New Canaan] on, my overhead, and I do this with municipalities—what’s the word I’m looking for?—generous. Because I know municipalities don’t’ have a lot of money. I appreciate that.”

He added later that there’s “an issue we get all the time.”

“There are going to be people that think we are the worst people in the world, trying to get rid of the geese. Jut to let you know as a company, we educate. I have pamphlets and stuff that we hand out if people confront us. If people do confront us in an angry manner, if it’s not me, I have my guys stop what they’re doing, give me a call and I’ll handle it because we get it all the time, people being upset about it. But the majority typically don’t want the goose droppings.”

One thought on “Parks Officials Approve Plan for Border Collies to Scare Geese out of Mead Park

  1. Now a little geese grease is too much? As long as there has been baseball at Mead there have been geese and players existing peacefully.

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