18 Dec 2019

Birds bound for Northland after Western Springs goose chase

From Checkpoint, 6:17 pm on 18 December 2019

A wild goose chase at Auckland's Western Springs park has managed to nab nearly 100 birds bound for a happy new life on a Northland farm.

The geese have been creating chaos for months - and Auckland Council made the decision that their excessive poo made their stay untenable.

So today the gaggle of geese were corralled into pens and popped into a trailer headed north to begin their new lives.

Auckland Council head of operational management Agnes McCormack said they needed to move on.

"The problem we have with the large population is the volume of grass that they eat, and also the volume of faeces that they produce."

The birds each eat up to 3kg of grass a day and a lot of what goes in must come out - 1.3kg per bird, per day.

The mission to move the geese began several weeks ago - they've been repeatedly lured into pens with their favourite food, bread, to get them used to being in there for when their final journey from Western Springs came.

But overnight strong winds brought a tree down into the pens, and the geese were spooked, with most refusing to come anywhere near handlers when they arrived at Western Springs first thing this morning.

"We nearly had to pull the plug this morning, because there were no geese in the pens... which was really disappointing because everybody was geared up for it."

But what could've been a tragedy turned into triumph - over the course of the morning ten people wandered the park trying to convince the geese to change their minds.

"It was a bit like the pied piper, following the team who was feeding them," she said.

Around 90 birds eventually embraced the temptation of a new home - but approximately 70 more remain in the park.

Auckland Council wants to get that number down to 20, so McCormack said there would be another goose purge in the New Year to get the final birds off the ground.

She said they will be taken to lifestyle blocks up north, where their wings will be clipped so they don't attempt to return to Western Springs.

Former Waitemata local board member Rob Thomas helped find new homes for the geese - he said people could be assured they won't become anyone's Christmas lunch.

"These geese would not be suitable for that... these are wild geese, they haven't been hand reared at all, so they just wouldn't be suitable for the dinner table."