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Strange beasts stalking Silver Lake in Waterloo

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Don’t be alarmed if you see some strange new creatures in Waterloo Park. They’re plastic, totally harmless and the wild-eyed beasts are there to scare geese, not you.

The City of Waterloo stationed about eight decoy coyotes around the park earlier this month to test if they’ll keep geese – and the mess they create – away from popular spots.

City staff say they received a number of complaints about the birds last season.

People in the park on Thursday had also noticed the issue.

“[You] just have to avoid the goose droppings when you’re going for a walk,” one parkgoer told CTV News.

“Obviously a lot of geese poop,” said another person passing through.

The decoys aren’t meant to make the geese go away entirely, but mostly to keep them off the main paths.

“We have a plan to put a broader goose management program together, but in the meantime we wanted to think of a way to help deter geese,” Tom Margetts, manager of park operations for the City of Waterloo, explained. “So as an experiment, we purchased some coyote decoys in a few different stances, a few different models, and we’ve placed them around the lake.”

A coyote decoy, aimed at scaring away geese, is seen in Waterloo Park on April 18, 2024. (Chris Thomson/CTV Kitchener)

Coyotes are natural predators of Canada geese, Margetts said. The decoys’ tails also move in the wind, which could act as an additional deterrent.

City staff plan to periodically rotate them around the park over the course of the spring.

“We’ll try them in the next few months, we’ll probably move them away in the summer and maybe look at bringing them back in the fall,” he said.

Integrative biology professor at the University of Guelph, Shoshanah Jacobs, likes the idea but says the geese could catch on soon because the visual cue isn’t paired with a chemical one, such as scent.

“Unless they are in combination and actively enforced with some kind of negative consequence, these cues tend to become less and less important to wildlife,” said Jacobs.

A chemical deterrent of sorts would likely keep humans out as well, Jacobs adds.

But the city will explore a combination of options as it hopes to make a walk in the park – exactly that.

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