Fines? Collies? How to get rid of waterfront geese

PORTLAND, Ore. - A Portland non-profit is submitting a plan to the city to get rid of the geese that hang around Tom McCall Waterfront Park.

Human Access Project wants to hire Geese Guys wildlife management service to chase away the birds.

Geese Guys would use collies to drive them off.

"The geese basically say you know what, maybe this area's a little more trouble than it's worth and (move) on down the road to another spot," said Human Access Project Ringleader (a self-given title) Willie Levenson.

Levenson emphasized the nonprofit would foot the bill for the city.

"Right now the Tom McCall Bowl as it is is basically a geese country club," Levenson said. "It's everything the geese would want to have. It's the equivalent of lawn chairs, service where they're bringing them cocktails, everything they want."

Why move the geese? Levenson said the birds and their droppings drive people away from Waterfront Park.

"Ultimately, if Portland is going to get people to fall in love with the river, we have to get people to the water's edge, because that's where the magic happens," Levenson said.

Keeping the Birds at Bay

Portland Audubon Conservation Director Bob Sallinger said he's visited Salem to see about a fine for people who feed the geese in public parks.

He points out Portland already has a law that makes leaving birdseed, breadcrumbs, or "other food particles or food waste" in any public park illegal.

Portland Parks and Recreation Spokesman Mark Ross told KATU yes, that law means you can't feed the geese.

But, Ross said, there is no fine for breaking that law, just a written warning or, if caught, multiple times, a 30-day ban from the park.

Ross also said, "We have other things to do besides being the breadcrumb police."

The Bigger Picture

Levenson, who said he has "no shame" about his love for the Willamette, knows why most people aren't head-over-heels for the river.

"There were sections of the Willamette that were so bad - there were certain sections of the river that fish would swim through and they would suffocate because the oxygen levels were so low," Levenson said.

But, he added, that was years ago, before the Big Pipe project was finished.

Now, Levenson said, to draw people to a much cleaner Willamette, Human Access Project is beautifying Portland's beaches.

Thursday morning the nonprofit gathered a couple dozen volunteers to move chunks of concrete off one southeast Portland beach, revealing much more appealing rocks and sand underneath.

Levenson said inmate work groups would haul away the concrete.

Human Access Project has previously removed rocks from Tom McCall Bowl Beach and created a new pathway to access the beach under the Marquam Bridge on the west side of the river.