Thousands sign petition to stop Oconomowoc Lake geese roundup

Geese would be euthanized and given to pantries
Posted at 6:25 PM, May 31, 2017
and last updated 2017-05-31 19:25:26-04

After the village board in Oconomowoc Lake decided to move forward with a geese roundup, thousands have signed a petition asking them to consider a different option.

The village board decided after hearing options from the USDA at a May 15 meeting to perform a roundup. The geese will then be euthanized, tested and given to local food pantries.

Village officials took the action after receiving several complaints recently from residents about the mess geese leave behind on their properties.

Residents who support the roundup did not want to talk on camera, but said they are constantly cleaning up what the birds leave behind.

But the woman who started the petition says the geese shouldn't be killed for that.

"Ideally the geese wouldn't be harmed in any way," said Allison Connell, who grew up in Oconomowoc but now lives in Madison.

She says her parents informed her about the roundup and she decided to start the petition as a result. She now has nearly 17,000 signatures. About 1,000 of them are people who live in Wisconsin.

"From what I read, the only main cause for them wanting to do this is the geese are pooping a lot on people's lawns," Connell said. "I just think it's really unfair and cruel that they're wanting to round up and kill geese just for something they do naturally."

Donald Wiemer, the village administrator in Oconomowoc Lake was not available for an interview Wednesday but said over the phone that the village is one of 87 communities in Wisconsin planning geese roundups.

Petitions have been created for three of those communities, Oconomowoc Lake, Twin Lakes and Mondovi. All three ask local leaders to find a different option.

Wiemer says the majority of residents in Oconomowoc Lake support the roundup. He has only heard from four people who oppose it.

The Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources says a non-lethal option would be to use noise or bright lights to haze the geese, but that might only be a temporary solution.

Brad Koele, a wildlife damage specialist with the DNR said relocation isn't something they recommend as geese are migratory birds and would likely return. They also don't want to move the birds from one disgruntled community to another.

Koele said the DNR typically supports whatever option individual municipalities decide to take. He said sometimes lethal roundups are necessary to bring down the numbers of a resident geese population, so the non-lethal options are more effective.

Connell says she reached out to village officials asking them to consider a non-lethal option but hasn't received a response.

"The geese didn't do anything wrong," she said. "They are attracted to lakes and people want to live on the lake and I think it's something that needs to be reconsidered."

An exact date hasn't been scheduled yet for the roundup, according to Wiemer. He says residents would have to give permission for the USDA to access their property if the geese are found there, so if they don't want the geese removed, they can deny access to their property.