Rigid coyotes prove menacing for geese
They don’t move very fast, and never by themselves. But they change positions almost daily.
Resident coyotes arrived at the ITD Headquarters campus early this month, assigned to maintain a constant vigil over open grassy areas near the main building and two modular buildings.
They don’t each much. They don’t howl, and in fact, are very approachable. One even became friends with a cat that was equally stiff.
Andy Guaydacan, ITD landscape technician, introduced the small band of coyote-like wood and plastic cutouts in an attempt to encourage geese to choose other landing sites. Their presence – and the gifts they leave behind – were becoming a nuisance for pedestrians and potentially constituted a health risk.
Guaydacan, who has nearly 20 years of experience maintaining golf courses, joined ITD last fall. It didn’t take long to recognize that a concern of many Treasure Valley golf courses also was present here. So he suggested a solution similar to ones used on fairways and greens. He borrowed a life-size coyote pattern and produced about 12 black silhouettes out of plywood and corrugated plastic.
He strategically positioned the cutouts on the lawn in front of the main building and near modular buildings occupied by the Division of Public Transportation and the Office of Highway Safety.
The menacing figures are moved regularly so wintering geese don't grow accustomed to seeing the “coyotes” in the same place. Otherwise, the wily winged creatures would recognize the coyotes as imposters and begin ignoring them.
The cutouts need to be positioned so they are highly visible, based on observed flight patterns.
“The idea is to force them (geese) to the natural grass fields south of the main buildings,” Guaydacan explained.
“We have a lot of habitat for the geese to use, we just want to control where they go,” said facilities manager Mike Morehead. “”We’re not trying to get rid of them. We just don’t want them on the lawn or sidewalks.”
Flocks of up to 400 geese were common before the stiff coyotes were introduced. The scare tactic is paying off, Morehead said. “It’s been 100 percent effective.”
Guaydacan said the problems with geese are almost exclusively limited to winter. Maintenance activity the rest of the year, combined with plentiful and inviting habitat elsewhere, keep the geese from assembling on lawns.
He outlined a number of reasons to control their presence:
Coyotes likely will disappear from the grounds with the arrival of warmer weather and the greening of lawns. In the meantime, employees who are tempted to befriend the new coyote population might want to limit animal feeding to resident squirrels.