FAIRHOPE – Fairhope officials said they are making plans to again remove Canada geese in the bayfront parks near the Fairhope Municipal Pier in the next month.
Under a plan approved by the Fairhope City Council in 2019, the geese would be captured and taken to another location, such as a wooded area in north Baldwin County during the molting season, when the birds lose some of their feathers and cannot fly for about three weeks.
Most of the Canada geese in the park were moved under the plan during the summer of 2020. Since then, some geese have returned and are breeding again in the North Beach and South Beach parks, George Ladd, assistant public works director, said at the Fairhope City Council work session June 14.
“There’s roughly 130 of them down there right now and the plan of relocation would be sometime between mid-June and mid-July during the molting season,” Ladd said.
During discussions before the first council action in 2019, officials said the number of geese at that time had been as many as 250.
Ladd said, Wildlife Solutions, the relocation company that moved the geese last year has agreed to do the work again for the same price of $7,500 or less.
Council President Jack Burrell said the City Council does not need to take action to order the removal again since the work had been approved in the past and the money is in the city budget.
“I know that we’ve brought it up enough times in the council meetings and we’re all aware of it. I think we’d be in favor of that relocation,” Burrell said.
He said that while some residents and visitors did not want the geese removed, the birds are a health hazard. He said the droppings from the geese are a major cause of elevated bacteria levels in Mobile Bay at the parks.
“I just want the public to understand that it really is painful to see that Fairhope gets voted as having dirty beaches and bacteria when they’re walking up to the water’s edge and taking bacteria samples and we know it’s due to geese and that’s what it is,” Burrell said. “And then you hear, ‘oh, it’s the sewage.’ No, it’s not. It’s the geese.”
According to previous discussions, some of the relocated geese may return after their feathers grow back, but some will stay in the new area. Predators in the new location may also reduce the number of geese while they cannot fly.