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Denver capturing, killing geese to help feed families in need

DENVER — For a number of years, Denver Parks and Recreation has struggled to manage a growing goose population.

They’ve tried scaring the geese away, coating their eggs in cooking oil to prevent fertilization and more. Now, they’re trying something new: catching the geese with help from the United States Department of Agriculture, and shipping them off to be “processed.”

The geese, said Scott Gilmore, deputy executive director of Denver Parks and Recreation, are being collected now because at this time of year they can’t fly. Then, they are taken to a processor.

“And they are getting processed, and they’re getting donated to needy families,” Gilmore said.

Gilmore would not comment on where those geese are being processed, or where the meat goes when it’s done.

His department estimates about 5,000 geese have set up permanent residence in Denver.

“The geese populations within the city have just exploded,” Gilmore said. “We get so many complaints about people coming out here with a blanket to sit on the grass, and they cannot sit on the grass because there’s so much goose poop in the parks.”

Denver partnered with the USDA earlier this month to begin culling the birds. It’s unclear how many have been killed so far, but Gilmore said the goal was never to eliminate geese from Denver parks.

Still, not everyone is on board with the plan.

“I’ve been here many years, I don’t really see it as a problem,” said one neighbor. “In fact, I think they’re kind of cute.”

Others expressed concerns over the safety of eating the geese.

“This is crazy,” said another neighbor. “I don’t know why somebody would want to do that.”

Gilmore said other cities have been doing this for a number of years.

The USDA released the following statement:

“The resident goose population in this area is too large, which will cause many problems including overgrazing of grass, ornamental plants and agricultural crops; accumulation of droppings and feathers; disease, attacks on humans by aggressive birds; and the fouling of reservoirs, swimming areas, docks, lawns, and recreational areas.”

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