Having been provided with the original John Satchwell briefing report which set in motion the cull of geese in Sandwell, one of the main charges he makes against the geese is that they cause “damage” to amenity grassland in the parks of Sandwell. There are similar claims made elsewhere on other pest control websites- but never any real clarification as to what damage Canada geese cause.
In the report, this “damage” is not quantified either or explored in any detail at the two “pilot” sites, to the point where any scrutineer would ask the question “what proof do you have?”
“Damage” to some people can consist of different levels of criteria. It is certainly not “criminal damage” that the geese are causing. The purpose of at least some of the areas may well be for sports use during some of the year, but not all of it. This for example may see some sports pitches used for cricket in the summer, or football during the autumn/winter/spring periods.
Professional sport is not practiced on Sandwell’s parks, by nature of the venue. We are not talking about the quality of Wimbledon centre court or Wembley Stadium when looking at the level of surface expected. Nor are we talking about golf course greens being meticulously polished, though maybe to some people they would have their parks that way. Some would also probably make the grass private land excluding anyone else from setting foot on their hallowed turf.
Amenity pitches are used in Sandwell’s parks not only for sport but for dog walking, leisure activities and events. These themselves may cause considerable damage to the grass on which people or their animals are allowed to walk. It should also be added that adverse weather conditions, especially during the falling leaves of Autumn and the wintery showers also causes notable damage to these areas.
It has been the case that major events in Sandwell such as The Historic Vehicle parade and even the Sandwell Show have been cancelled due to waterlogged damaged grass areas. A recent “community day” event in Victoria park Tipton was also cancelled at short notice- due to water “damage” to the grassed areas.
The question that should be posed is what “damage” against this background are Canada geese causing in Sandwell’s green spaces?
The geese graze on the grass, thus keeping it short. They also eat leaves, removing one of the major cost forming and laborious yearly exercises that often Sandwell council have drafted in “slave labour” of children to help clear up. This is certainly the case in Victoria Park Tipton, which is heavily affected by leaf fall come October. This is in addition to horse chestnut trees which are notorious for both shedding conker casings and also attracting people into scattering such organic matter further afield from where it fell. But in tackling the “damage” that trees cause and the cost involved of clearing it up, are SMBC ever seriously suggesting a cull of trees, or even replacing deciduous trees with evergreen ones?
The geese when grazing do not dig up any grass which prevents it from re-growing. They do not scratch up areas of grass to bury nuts or search for worms or food, in the same way that squirrels or badgers may be expected to do in their natural behaviour patterns. They do not make burrows like foxes or other animals, nor do they leave peaked troughs of soil such as moles. It should be noted that these animals also come under fire as causing “damage” for those obsessed with immaculate bladed grass. They appear to have little tolerance of wildlife, and are anti-wildlife.
Sandwell council have in previous years conducted a high profile dog fouling campaign, which we have parodied in our own campaign. We would question however how much money is spent in clearing up excreta left by dogs and their owners compared to goose mess in Sandwell’s parks and amenity grassed areas? This includes employing people to basically snoop on people to issue fine tickets, but usually the tattooed bald headed 15 stone males escape censure for dog fouling. We wonder if there is any difference in how dog mess breaks down to goose mess, or how the “damage” compares?
It would appear that the “damage” referred to caused by geese is more a personal issue for some people, to the point of irrational fixation, as regards a fear of animal excreta. We have looked at this elsewhere.