CAMDENTON, Mo. (AP) - State officials are betting that some strategic landscaping and several relocations could help dissuade geese from clogging swimming beaches at the popular Lake of the Ozarks in central Missouri.
When geese flock to state park swimming beaches, they can contaminate the water and contribute to high E. coli bacteria tests that prompt the beaches to be closed. The birds produce significant quantities of feces that can be washed into the lake. The geese also can leave an unsightly mess and behave aggressively.
There are two public swimming beaches at the Lake of the Ozarks State Park, which is located about an hour southwest of Jefferson City. Park officials opened nearly all of the state park beaches for the Memorial Day weekend, including both at the Lake of the Ozarks.
Part of the strategy for combating the geese has involved landscaping changes. The Missouri Department of Natural Resources has installed a temporary fence to help vegetation grow near the beach while installing brown landscape rock and removing grass from around the beach area. In addition, grass-mowing techniques have been adjusted to encourage natural growth that can discourage geese.
Besides changing the appearance of the beaches, officials also have tried to relocate some of the birds. The Missouri Department of Conservation and the U.S. Department of Agriculture's animal and plant health inspection service moved 24 geese to another state park with aquatic and wildlife habitat.
The Missouri environmental agency has sought to address ongoing issues with geese at the beaches. Last year, the Department of Natural Resources announced plans to hunt the birds during their molting season when the adults cannot fly, with the meat going to food banks. However, the state agency backed away from that plan.
Officials also have tried to chase geese away by allowing the grass around beaches to grow longer and posting signs urging visitors not to feed them.