U.S. Department of Agriculture kills geese at Chattanooga State

photo Chattanooga State removed all of the geese from their campus last week citing that they were a nuisance. They were later euthanized.


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photo USDA workers grab a Canada goose in Tennessee in this file photo.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture's Wildlife Services program killed about 100 geese that it removed from Chattanooga State's Amnicola Highway campus last week.

School officials asked the USDA to remove the Canada geese about two weeks ago, said Keith Blanton, the supervisor of the department's Knoxville District. The birds were all over campus, and they were out of control.

Chattanooga State President Jim Catanzaro said geese often ran in front of cars. And they left behind between 50 and 100 pounds of poop every day, which school officials said was a health hazard and made keeping the campus clean too difficult.

Catanzaro said he was told the USDA would take the geese to a preserve in West Tennessee.

"I certainly did not know they were going to be killed," he said.

But Blanton said that is not true. When members of the USDA collected the geese on July 3, he said, they told school officials the USDA could do two things: find a place to put the geese or euthanize them.

The USDA could take the geese to any wildlife management area at least 100 miles from campus, Blanton said. Studies show that if you put them anywhere closer, the geese may return.

"These sites are getting harder and harder to find," Blanton said.

And most areas already are overpopulated with the geese. Despite their name, Canada geese don't migrate. There are between 60,000 and 80,000 of them in Tennessee, and hunters kill about 20,000 each year. Still, the population keeps growing.

"We've got geese all over the state," Blanton said.

This is a national problem, he said. Canada geese love urban areas, like the Chattanooga State campus. They love the freshly cut grass, and they love the fact that few of their natural predators are around.

USDA officials killed 260 geese in New York on Tuesday morning. And two weeks ago, they killed 144 in Dallas.

The USDA collected geese from Chattanooga about 10 years ago. And since then, Blanton said, the department has picked up thousands of geese from urban areas -- some of them moved, others killed.

Before euthanizing the geese, according to the USDA, you can take other measures to try to drive them away. You can chase them, or destroy their eggs, or just ask people to please stop feeding the birds and hope that works.

Chattanooga State officials put a coyote made out of wire on campus to scare the birds. They also tried to move them off using noise techniques, Chattanooga State Associate Vice President Eva Lewis said.

But those solutions don't always work, Blanton said. That's when you take other actions.

Contact staff writer Tyler Jett at tjett@timesfreepress.com or 423-757-6476.