The serene waterways at Amador Lakes in Dublin are attractive to more than the residents. Canadian geese have been making themselves at home in the 45-acre park-like setting almost since it opened in 1985.
"For some odd reason, this year they have become a lot more aggressive," said Ki Hwang, who has managed the 555-unit complex off Alcosta Boulevard behind the Dublin Senior Center since 2002. "We are having children as well as adults attacked."
Plus as the number of geese increases, they leave more droppings all over. Kwang estimates there are approximately 40 geese in residence at this time, and he noted that this is the nesting season and many families are about to hatch.
Canadian geese are a protected species so Kwang has been in touch for years with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service as well as the U.S. Department of Agriculture to ask advice on dealing with aggressive geese. He was always informed that they could not help him, until now.
"This year they offered to assess the situation," said Kwang. "Someone from the Department of Agriculture came out to assess how to catch them. He just shook a bag of bread and some moved toward him aggressively."
They were supposed to return today to remove some of the geese and everyone was informed. But Kwang has pushed back that date so he can work with residents on alternatives.
Resident Ross Bringhurst became alarmed at the potential fate of the geese when he heard about it Saturday. He put notices on mailboxes and talked to people he saw in the complex during the weekend.
"The overwhelming majority was in favor of what I was doing," said Bringhurst.
He discussed it with management first thing Mnday morning and said Kwang was open to any suggestions.
"We weren't happy at first but we talked to them calmly and left with a plan," Bringhurst said. "Right now we're trying to get as many minds working on this problem as we can. He gave us a couple of weeks to deal with the problem."
Kwang said he has tried all sorts of solutions that were suggested to him by owners of golf courses and others:
• They brought in swans, which discouraged the geese but became aggressive themselves.
• They brought in dogs, but the geese just flew to another part of the lake.
• They moved the nests but the geese built other nests. Once the geese lay eggs in the nests, the eggs, too, are protected.
• They brought in turkeys, which helped control the goose population but damaged cars and left huge piles of fecal matter.
• They used nontoxic sprays in certain areas but the rains washed it away and the geese returned.
Signs remind residents not to feed the geese, and it is frequently mentioned in notices.
"A clause in our lease agreement says not to feed the geese," said Kwang. "People ignore the fact that feeding them, they don't forage for their own food. And they're feeding them white bread, which is really bad for them."
Many residents have threatened to move, he said, and one couple did move, only telling him after they departed that the geese had driven them away. A longtime resident who had no problem for years recently reported that she was afraid to go from her car to her home.
"It had gotten to the point where we had to take a more drastic measure," said Kwang. "Tomorrow we were going to take action to remove the aggressive ones. We weren't looking to eradicate all of them. Like an aggressive animal, we have to remove them."
"The geese are part of this community, part of the ambiance," Kwang added, "but we do have to act on situations where people are bitten - and they have been bitten."
Kwang said he received telephone calls and e-mails today from animal lovers locally and statewide as residents contacted their friends to plead the geese's cause and word spread. Some callers were adamant that the geese have rights equal to those of the residents, no matter how aggressive or messy the geese become.
"Conservation is great and sometimes it works," said Kwang.
But when people's health is at risk, he said he must do something.