After 14 geese took up residence at the Winthrop waterfront this summer – leaving their droppings around Norcross Point and raising health concerns among those who visit the area – town officials hired a licensed pest service to spray chemicals around the waterfront.

The chemicals are meant to repel the geese, but after one round of spraying last week, the birds still haven’t left for good, Town Manager Peter Nielsen said.

The service cost the town $675, Nielsen added, and the pest service, Turf Doctor of Augusta, is now returning for another consultation.

It’s just the latest attempt the town has made to remove the birds, which have left fecal matter on the walkways and lawns at Norcross Point, alarming both town officials and visitors to the area.

“They’re contributing their droppings to that area,” Nielsen said when first interviewed about the subject in early July. “You can’t ignore the health effects of something like that.”

Goose feces can contain germs such as E. coli and salmonella, according to U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. When digested, those bacteria can sometimes lead to diarrhea, fever, cramps, urinary tract infections and respiratory illness.

To drive away the geese, Winthrop first set up fake coyote replicas that have a menacing appearance. Then it posted signs warning people against feeding the geese. And on July Fourth, it held a fireworks show that, while unrelated to the geese, did not have the hoped-for effect of scaring them away permanently.

The Augusta pest service first applied the repellent to Norcross Point and the town beach July 12.

Turf Doctor did not respond to a request for more information about the substance it sprayed.

“They put a spray on the grass that, in the geese’s mind, changes the color of the grass and gives it a bad taste,” Nielsen said. “But they were feeding the next day, Wednesday (July 13); then we didn’t see them until yesterday (Monday) morning.”

Turf Doctor is now returning to assess whether an additional treatment could prove more successful, Nielsen said.

Nielsen did contact one man who considered relocating the geese to another beach, he said, but the man ultimately determined his animal care license would not qualify him for the task.

Nielsen has also refused to consider euthanizing the animals. He was the town manager of Oakland in 2014, when a gaggle of geese settled at the town’s beach on Messalonskee Lake. At the time, the town contacted state and federal wildlife officials, who ended up capturing and euthanizing the offending birds, leading to public outrage.

Nielsen had not agreed to that plan, he said in early July, and “that will not happen again. The one thing I don’t want is to harm the animals. There’s no greater animal lover than me.”

Winthrop public works employees now are cleaning the town waterfront twice a week.

Charles Eichacker can be contacted at 621-5642 or at:

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