Got geese?

Bar-headed Geese flock at Gharana wetland, about 35 kilometers (21.8 miles) from Jammu, India, Wednesday, Nov. 28, 2018. The wetland is home to many species of migratory birds that come here during the winter months. (AP Photo / Channi Anand)

To passerbys, the presence of geese is a nothing more than a part of the vibrant landscape the University of Connecticut Storrs campus boasts. Though when investigated further, Geese pose major environmental concerns for UConn’s campus, prompting multiple complaints by students and faculty.

“[Put simply], the goose poop leaches into mirror lake and pollutes the water,” first-semester environmental studies major Lauren Pawlowski said.

First semester environmental studies major Maggie Chafouleas said that UConn’s campus will be overwhelmed by the aftermath of geese in the months to come.

“It is a big problem to have this magnitude of geese, especially when the snow melts in the spring,” Chafouleas said.

Professor and Head of the Department of Natural Resources and the Environment Jason Vokoun wrote that abundant wildlife is a treasure and cultural heritage. He added that UConn’s course of action for geese should mirror sharing common landscape, rather than eradicating a population.

“There are real environmental challenges ranging from water quality, crop production and the rare aggression of nesting pairs towards pedestrians,” Vokoun said, “However, it is often too easy to vilify abundant wildlife and the challenges they create, using words such as ‘nuisance’ or ‘pest’.”

In response to geese complaints, UConn installed wires above the surface of Mirror Lake in an effort to deter geese from landing there, according to University Spokesperson Stephanie Reitz.
“In the last few years, that’s helped immensely as geese have tended to avoid areas on campus that they once favored, and seem to be going other places off campus where they have easier access to the ponds they favor,” Reitz said, “That, along with public education to encourage people not to feed them.”

Professor Vokoun said when examining UConn’s geese population moving forward, it is in the university’s best interest to investigate the opportunity for a symbiotic coexistence between both its student and wildlife inhabitants.

“[The fact] that folks on campus are treated to fall ‘goose music’ emanating from the sky is something that many would have thought a lost cause not that long ago,” Vokoun said, “I for one, need some occasional ‘goose music’ in my life.”


Grace Burns is a campus correspondent for The Daily Campus. She can be reached via email at grace.burns@uconn.edu.