Lehigh Valley

Emmaus geese honk at lights designed to scare them off

Borough struggles to find solution to geese overpopulation.

EMMAUS, Pa. - If geese can laugh, the geese contaminating Furnace Dam Park in Emmaus are really honking at a pair of blinking lights floating on the park's pond that were supposed to get them to leave and not come back.

"We have the lights down there that they like and we also now have a ‘swan' that they really like, so they're doing really well," reported borough council member Jeff Shubzda to his colleagues Monday night.

"I'm waiting to put in a Ferris wheel so they can have a good time."

In June, the borough installed two "water units," which it purchased for $748 from a Cincinnati, Ohio-based company called Away with Geese, in the latest attempt to end its long-unresolved problem with geese creating an unhealthy environment in the small park.

Away with Geese claimed the blinking lights, while harmless, would be so annoying to geese at night that they permanently would leave the pond "within just a few days."

"They swim right around them," said borough manager Shane Pepe.

Added Shubzda: "It's a disco."

Borough officials have said no one wants to rent the park's pavilion because the place literally is covered in geese droppings. It's almost impossible to walk anywhere in the park along South 10th Street without stepping in geese feces.

Shubzda told council he recently visited the park and determined: "It is probably the worst it's ever been."

He said the amber lights, which resemble small buoys, did keep the geese out of the pond – for about one week. "They stood at the side of the water."

But Shubzda said Pepe checked at 9:30 one night and saw so many geese swimming in the Furnace Dam pond that he texted him: "It looks like a disco down there."

Added Pepe: "The lights were blinking and 30 geese were swimming around them like it's a party."

The borough also has placed a realistic-looking "swan" on the pond to help scare off the Canada geese.

"The swan worked for about a day and a half," said Pepe, "which is longer than the lights worked."

"These geese are so domesticated that they're not afraid of anything," he said, adding that includes cars on South 10th Street and even small explosions.

"We've shot some bang cannons at them, that didn't work," said Shubzda.

"Yeah, they swam maybe 10 feet," said Pepe.

"And laughed at us," added Shubzda.

Shortly before dusk Monday, several dozen geese at the pond were not exactly hanging out with the "swan" but seemed oblivious to the two solar-powered lights, which were not yet blinking.

Immediately after dark, when the two lights were flashing, no geese were on the water.

But they'll be back.

Borough council member Brian Holtzhafer said they often cross 10th Street and go to a nearby pond on Rodale property at night.

The borough will be looking to get its money back from Away with Geese, which promises a full refund after a 90-day trial

Shubzda now is looking into a federal capture-and-release program to finally end the geese problem at Furnace Dam.

"We're still researching, trying to get some information on what we can do," he said

Shubzda also spoke with a New Jersey-based company called Geese Police, which uses trained border collies "to get the flock out" – as it states in its promotions.

"I have two dogs that would do that for nothin'," commented council president Lee Ann Gilbert.

"I said the same thing," said Shubzda. "They said they have to be licensed by the state to do that or it's against the law. So let's not try that."

He said the cost of Geese Police is fairly expensive: "$300 a week for them to come down there seven days a week and chase geese."


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