LONGMONT, Colo. — Katie Massey, a 5-year-old golden retriever, strained against her leash, eager to chase away some Canada geese from Longmont’s valuable golf course grass.
Emma Massey, 11, let Katie off her leash and the dog straightened out into a blond arrow aiming straight for a smattering of the geese on Twin Peaks Golf Course, reported the Times-Call (http://bit.ly/2bxeINK).
The geese fled to sullenly float on the one of the golf course’s ponds and Katie trotted back to Emma, panting and with her special Longmont geese-hazing program vest askew.
Larry Mills, Longmont golf operations manager, said the program started in 2002 when the City Council approved an ordinance that allows dogs to be off-leash in certain areas of the city to chase away geese.
The geese are problematic for the golf courses and at parks with water features because they eat the grass and annoy golfers or park-goers, Mills said.
“The number is astronomical. They hang out on parks and golf courses,” Mills said. “They eat the grass all the way down to the soil and dig holes on the putting greens. … We get a number of complaints from golfers who don’t want to wade through feces when they play golf.”
The city is allowed to start hazing geese on Aug. 1 and can continue until March 31, avoiding the geese nesting and molting season.
Mills said they tried everything before they started letting area dogs do what they do best.
“We put a flashing light on a pond at Ute Creek (golf course) to disrupt their sleep patterns but it didn’t work because it irritated the neighbors,” Mills said. “We had fake coyotes but once the geese figure out they’re not real, they ignore them basically … some golf course superintendents have dogs they let chase geese.”
Longmont decided to leverage Front Range residents’ affinity for canine companions. There are about 30 dogs enrolled in the program. Each dog gets a dog-sized orange vest. Their handlers get an orange vest and ID card so if animal control is called out for an off-leash dog they know the dog is actually doing its civic duty annoying geese.
Dogs and dog handlers in the program can come out to the courses and chase geese at their convenience, although many choose to go in the mornings or evenings in order to not interfere with golfers.
Kris Massey, mom to Emma and owner of Katie, said the program has been really beneficial for their family.
The Masseys live right off Twin Peaks Golf Course, so Emma and Katie don their vests regularly and go out to keep the geese at bay.
“It’s a great workout for (Katie) and it’s such a great program,” Kris Massey said. “I’m so excited Longmont has this and is so dog-friendly.”
Geese are stubborn creatures, though, and they have to be constantly hazed before they give up on an area. Mills said they could use some more participants in the geese-hazing program.
“It’s only effective if there’s constant hazing. In other words if a dog chases them once in a while, the geese get aware of it,” Mills said. “It’s somewhat effective but we’re not getting the constant geese hazing we’re after.”
Prospective geese-hazer-handlers should contact Mills at Larry.Mills@longmontcolorado.gov.
Information from: Daily Times-Call, http://timescall.com/