The Tribune Democrat, Johnstown, PA

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July 14, 2014

Lake Rowena goose population evicted

EBENSBURG — It’s common for Ebensburg-area residents to see a gaggle of geese floating on Lake Rowena – or, at least it was.

Until wildlife control expert Larry Crespo started working with Ebensburg borough, the lake was home to dozens of them. While a pleasant sight, the geese weren’t the cleanliest of neighbors.

“You literally could not take a step without stepping in goose poop,” Crespo told The Tribune-Democrat in a phone interview.

Those leavings, while a cosmetic nuisance to most, create a real ecological issue, he said.

Runoff contaminated with the droppings will raise nutrient levels in the lake, he said, which reduces oxygen levels for the lake’s fish – also hindering recreational fishing – and contributes to algae growth.

While passing by the lake, Crespo said he noticed the problem and offered his services to the borough.

“They were ecstatic with the results I gave,” Crespo said.

His family-run business, Crespo’s Wildlife Solutions, has been around for seven years, he said, and handles all manner of critters – their removal from private properties, relocation and other jobs – in Cambria, Blair, Indiana, Westmoreland and Bedford counties. He said geese are probably the most tenacious, however.

“Other animals – it’s usually a skunk on somebody’s porch – I trap the animal and it’s a done deal,” he said. “Geese are very persistent. They’re very good parents.

“They’re probably one of the toughest animals to deal with.”

But Crespo seems to enjoy the challenge. He said he uses humane, nonharmful tactics to control population growth or condition the geese to stay away from an area – he just has to be more tenacious than the geese.

“Until I get them trained, it’s very difficult the first year,” he said. “They live there. That’s their home. So, they want to stay there.”

Once adult geese imprint upon a location, they will always return, he said – as if there’s a homing beacon. The only solution would then be euthanasia – a last resort, he added, and only legal under federal law after three years’ worth of nonlethal relocation methods have failed.

“I use anything short of touching the animals to get them to leave the site,” he said. “I don’t leave until they leave. I use a whole different variety of methods to do that.”

Between mating seasons, Crespo said he works to keep the goose population in check – specifically, with a treatment spray that keeps goose eggs from hatching.

He said the solution is simple, biodegradable, environmentally friendly and is made from common household items.

The spray creates a barrier around the goose egg that keeps oxygen from reaching the embryo inside.

Unhatched goslings need oxygen from day one, he said.

The parent goose won’t notice the difference, he added, and will continue to lie on the inert eggs until it’s time to move on for the season.

One aspect of the job he said he doesn’t have a solution for is agitated parental geese.

The nest and egg treatments require him to get close to a nest – mom and dad geese don’t like that.

“The males in particular, on the leading edge of their wing, have what looks like a ball-peen hammer,” he said. “If they hit you square with that – on a knee or a shin – it will bring tears to your eyes.

“It can get tough sometimes – I think that’s why people pay me to do it,” he said with a laugh.

To reach Crespo’s Wildlife Solutions, call 421-9396 or visit CrespoWildlifeSolutions.com.

Justin Dennis is a multimedia reporter for The Tribune-Democrat. Follow him on Twitter @JustinDennis.

 

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