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Hunt to thin geese in North Little Rock called off

January 07, 2012 at 07:38 PM

The Associated Press

NORTH LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (AP) — Plans for a goose hunt in North Little Rock have been scrapped after an animal welfare group promised to help pay for non-lethal means of reducing the Canada geese population at a city park.

The hunt originally scheduled for Dec. 20 was postponed earlier this month. It was canceled Tuesday when Mayor Patrick Hays and the Coalition to Save the Geese of Burns Park announced an agreement to use dogs and lights to shoo away about the birds that have been damaging the park’s golf courses and soccer fields.

Hays kept the door open for a goose hunt next year if the other methods don’t produce results.

The mayor told City Council members Tuesday night the new plan will cost an estimated $24,000, including money to hire dog handlers until the city acquires a dog to permanently patrol the park. The city also will flashing lights to disrupt nighttime nesting and addle eggs to keep them from hatching.

The coalition will raise at least $12,000 to help cover the cost and supply volunteers to help, coalition spokesman Scott White said.

“The centerpiece is going to be the dogs,” White said in a story in Wednesday’s editions of the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette ( “The city is to start contracting for multiple dogs to do the initial harassment, then, over the long term, the purchase of a dog to keep them away.”

City Attorney Jason Carter said he would expect “some sort of memorandum of agreement” between the city and the coalition to be written outlining the commitments.

The new plan was developed following an outcry over the City Council’s Nov. 28 decision to authorize a pre-Christmas goose hunt of the 200 or so birds. An online petition against the hunt included 1,385 names and more than 1,000 people joined the coalition’s Facebook page opposing the kill.

Hays announced Dec. 12 that the effort was postponed until January to allow the public to submit alternative proposals. Nineteen were put forward.

Council members asked Hays if the geese could become a problem in other areas as a result of the new plan.

“We don’t know where they’re going to go,” Hays said. “We can’t anticipate that.”

He cautioned that if the plan doesn’t work, the goose hunt could be reinstated in September, when a new geese hunting period begins. He said he’ll hold the coalition to its commitment.

“If we don’t see measurable improvement by this summer we certainly would reinstate the hunt, or if there is not a good-faith effort by the coalition,” Hays said.

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