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University's goose cooked by bird cull


WINNIPEG—The University of Manitoba is pondering its next move after students' feathers got ruffled over a decision to smash the eggs of nesting Canada geese on campus to control their population.

The U of M got a federal permit and hired a contractor to destroy the nests and get rid of the eggs after getting complaints about rising numbers of the migratory waterfowl.

One campus employee slipped and injured a wrist trying to avoid an apparently aggressive goose.

But students got angry when they saw men armed with baseball bats and umbrellas show up this week while classes still were in session to start cracking eggs.

The flap prompted the university to shelve the cull while it decides on other methods to rein in the birds.

University spokesman John Danakas said the U of M has tried decoys and landscape features to deter the nesting pairs and chase them off, but without much success.

“The university does not condone that method [baseball bats] so we're stopping all culling until we find another way to manage the goose population,” noted Danakas.

He said the contractors the university hired were “a third party,” and the decision to crack eggs wasn't taken lightly and won't be repeated.

“Ours is a community that cares deeply for wildlife," Danakas stressed. ”We have experts on migratory birds, and we have no intention of causing undue damage.

“That did happen, and it's not something we're comfortable with.”

A class at one of the nesting sites, behind the education building, watched a pair of geese start raising their brood just outside the classroom windows and monitored the nest almost as closely as the protective prospective parents.

Environmental design student Alexia Ruiz was in the basement of the education building Tuesday afternoon, and she was among the students who banged on the window and yelled at two men armed with bats when they came culling.

“It is kind of scary knowing that just outside our window, what we thought to eventually be an adorable place full of baby geese, is now a reminder of what horrible things were done to a goose's babies,” said Ruiz.

Her teacher, architecture faculty lecturer Maria Mavridi, summed up the class's reaction.

“There were students yelling, 'What ya doing?' and banging on the windows,” she noted.

“I think the men heard them.”

She said she was as outraged as her students, calling the practice “heinous.”

“Campus security has been getting calls all day about 'the men with baseball bats' roaming the campus,” Mavridi said.

The decision to stop the cull came after the calls.

A day after the nests were bashed, at least one person on campus said it seems the geese got the message.

There were a lot fewer geese reported on campus yesterday.

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