MATT DAYHOFF/JOURNAL STAR
A decoy coyote stares out menacingly Friday from the sidewalk along Blackjack Boulevard in East Peoria. Para-Dice Casino officials have installed a set of fake coyotes in an effort to keep geese off the sidewalks and parking lot around the casino grounds.
Coyote decoys fooling geese
EAST PEORIA — If you think the coyotes are real, you’re as dumb as a goose.
Recently, as a gaggle of geese waddled along the Illinois River shoreline near the Par-A-Dice Casino, something unusual happened.
They stayed at water’s edge, below the small hill that leads to the casino’s paved driveway and parking lot - an area the geese seem to enjoy wandering to for various mischief.
Now, though, they don’t appear willing to gamble against the small pack of coyotes that look poised to attack from the grass above.
The coyotes, of course, are fake, but don’t tell the geese. The casino’s trick is working.
Four coyote decoys, purchased for just less than $400 from Presley’s Outdoors in Bartonville, have scared away the geese. Until two months ago, the waterfowl had been a messy, traffic-snarling bother at the casino.
“The reason we got (the decoys) is because the geese had a habit of walking up on the drive (and) right in the middle of the street,” a maintenance worker said Friday. “They would bother the customers, pull up the flowers. They’d eat them (and if) they didn’t like them, they’d leave them there in a pile.”
Staked into the ground or tied down with bungee cables, the coyotes are made out of rubber, but have furry, life-like tails that flip in the wind. About half the size of their real counterparts, the fakes are positioned evenly down the bluff, some crouching, while others stand in different poses.
On guard for several weeks now, the coyotes have proved to be a winning bet.
“They work great,” said the worker, who asked not to be named. “We just have to move them around so (the geese) don’t get wise to them.”
Gamblers and hotel visitors, some of whom might first be startled by the fake coyotes, didn’t seem to mind the birds, staff members said. Many of the guests brought bags of bread to feed to the geese.
But when the geese started getting too comfortable with people, especially in the parking lots, casino officials knew it was only a matter of time before one of the geese rolled snake eyes.
“It was done really for (the geese’s) safety,” David Strow, spokesman for Boyd Gaming, parent company of the casino, said of using decoy coyotes.
“We wanted to keep them out of public areas, out of the parking lots. This was an easy, humane way,” he said.
Fewer geese also means less droppings to clear off the walkways to the casino and hotel. Staff was on “poop patrol” every two hours before the decoys were deployed, one worker said.
“It’s another reason to keep the birds away from public areas,” Strow acknowledged. “Obviously, customers don’t appreciate (the droppings).”