ROCHESTER, Minn. (KTTC) – Now that it’s finally starting to warm up, more and more people are getting outdoors.
For some that includes a visit to Rochester’s Silver Lake Park, where feeding geese is popular this time of year. Even though it may seem harmless, feeding these animals can not only hurt them but your kids as well.
“Feeding wildlife is a bad idea,” said Paul Widman, the director of Rochester’s Parks and Recreation Department.
Whether it’s a duck or goose, Widman advises against feeding them. “Feeding geese junk food, which is bread, french fries, and popcorn, especially when they’re young… it’s really bad for their health in general.”
Geese are natural foragers. Widman says there’s plenty of food in the natural environment to support them: grass, water plants, and bugs. The geese at Silver Lake Park should be out in fields and other areas eating from natural food sources. When people start feeding them things like bread, they become more dependent on people.
Junk food is also harmful to goslings. When they start eating junk food, they stop getting nutrition, and that can lead to the development of deformed wings, known as Angel Wing Syndrome. “It makes them flightless, and they can’t go out and forage for food. It’s a vicious cycle.” The Chicago Academy of Sciences describes angel wing like this:
“Angel Wing is a condition caused by a nutritional deficiency in vitamins and minerals combined with a high level of carbohydrates and sugars. While a number of factors are involved, human-fed bread is one of the probable causes.
It causes the carpal joint (or wrist) on the wing to grow awkwardly, leaving the wing unable to sit flush at the bird’s side. This affects their ability to fly and the growth of their primary flight feathers — making them look more like sticks than feathers.”
Additionally, since bread and french fries have little nutritional value, it makes goose droppings that much more of an issue around Silver Lake. According to Widman, geese drop about 1.5 to 2 pounds of poop a day. When you add junk food into the mix, it becomes messier and creates an issue on bike trails and playground equipment.
If a kid happens to come across goose droppings they could contract an infection called cryptosporidium, which can cause diarrhea, vomiting, and weight loss.
“Everything that’s enjoyable in this park becomes less so because of the geese.” That’s not to say geese are ruining the park. You can still enjoy them and the park, but keep the snacks to yourself.
“Their instincts will take them to the natural food source. They’ll live a long, happy life without our help.”
If you’re caught feeding geese, you won’t get a ticket. Instead, staff members with the Parks and Rec Department will give you a friendly reminder that you shouldn’t be feeding them.