Kāpiti Village’s Canada geese problem solved by simple solution

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A crafty retiree has used a simple idea to stop Canada geese from plaguing Kāpiti Village grounds.

Rex Hebley, who has lived at the retirement village in Paraparaumu for about five years, noticed the geese were causing issues, including making a mess on the bowling green, pétanque piste, the croquet green and the grassy areas around the waterways.

This was causing problems for residents, who then had to clean the areas before using them.

One day a friend mentioned to him that Southward Car Museum had created cutouts of wolves around its lake, which appeared to be keeping the geese away, and Hebley wanted to try it out in the village.

He obtained a pattern from one of the engineers at the museum and got to work in the village workshop. Thus the first wolf was created, which Hebley named Wally.

He made Wally out of 12mm plywood, which he then painted black.

Wally was positioned on a small island in the river at the village, and Hebley said it worked well.

He said in the United States and Canada coyotes were the natural enemy of the geese, which was why the wolves worked so well in the village.

“I don’t know how it gets into the genes of the Canada geese here.”

Once it was clear Wally was keeping the geese away, the village’s management asked him to make more wolves, so Hebley made it into a competition.

He created four more wolves and challenged other residents to give them names.

The winning wolf was created by a 96-year-old resident who named her wolf Flow (wolf spelt backwards).

Hebley’s four new wolves were improved so they could spin in the wind, making them more lifelike.

While the wolves are popular among the village residents, Hebley said not everyone was a fan of them.

“The village dogs don’t like them.”

The wolves have been working well, and Hebley said he hadn’t seen geese in the village for at least two months, and even before that they never stayed long with the wolves on guard.

A wider problem – and that firearms incident

Canada geese were a nationwide problem, Kāpiti Coast District Council place and space manager Mike Mendonca said.

“These highly mobile and intelligent birds can carry diseases such as avian influenza, campylobacter, Escherichia coli, and salmonella, and foul wetlands, paddocks, sports fields, parks and amenity areas.”

Mendonca said the Greater Wellington Regional Council (GWRC) had overall responsibility for managing Canada geese and other pests. However, individual landowners were also expected to play their part.

He said, as a responsible landowner, the council had undertaken regular culls of Canada geese for more than a decade.

“While we’ve tried other methods to deter them from settling on our wetlands, paddocks, sports fields, parks and amenity areas, including using bird-repellent product Flock Off on some sports grounds, routine culling is currently the most effective method of population control.”

Meanwhile, Mendonca said the council had completed its investigations into a firearms incident that occurred during its routine Canada geese cull in January.

“Our investigation identified a number of areas where operating procedures were not followed by the contractor.

“This led to a private residence being struck by a bullet and shotgun pellets hitting the roof.”

Mendonca said the council took all health and safety breaches seriously and was incredibly sorry for the distress it had caused to the residents concerned.

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