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By Nathan Bowe, Published August 24 2013

Detroit Lakes deals with scourge of geese on beach

DETROIT LAKES, Minn. – They aren’t an invasive species, but the new enemy in the war for the mile-long Detroit Lakes City Beach is to go after the geese and ducks that sometimes flock there.

“I think there are about 30 geese this year. It’s kind of a mess, but we are trying to do something about that,” said Detroit Lakes Public Works Director Brad Green.

“It’s a tough spot to be in because we have to follow the laws – they are a protected migratory waterfowl.”

City officials have received some complaints about the geese this summer, mostly about the mess they leave behind on the beach, Green said.

“They like the short-cut grass; long grass usually stops them,” he added.

The problem is not unique to the city beach. Officials in Alexandria and Fergus Falls also are dealing with the issue, Green said, and it’s a

longstanding problem at

golf courses.

City staff do their best to shoo the geese away, firing blanks or “firecracker guns” to scare them off, Green said, but then they fly to the other side of the lake, and residents there aren’t shy about chasing them away so they end up back on the city beach, he said.

Coots, a bird responsible for helping spread swimmer’s itch, also are a problem on the beach in the fall.

There are several approaches the city is considering in its war against waterfowl.

One is to ask the Department of Natural Rescources to net, band and remove the young birds before they can fly.

Another is to ask special permission from the DNR and U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to hunt the birds.

In that case, the city would likely use city police officers or other trained professionals who also like to hunt, in order to best protect public safety, Green said.

“We had a couple people asking if they could hunt on the beach this year,” Green said. “We said no.”

It’s been a long time since waterfowl were hunted on Detroit Lake. Detroit Lakes Tribune former outdoors columnist Bernie Revering wrote about bird hunting on the lake in the 1940s.

“It’s kind of too late this year, but next year we’ll be getting real serious about it,” Green said. “We’ll work with the federal wetland authorities and get the right permits and such.”

Meanwhile, a busy beach is the best defense against the birds. With the recent hot spell, the beach has been crowded and there has been no sign of the geese, Green said.