Geese in Byrd Park are here to stay... at least for now

Byrd Park geese will no longer be adopted out

RICHMOND, Va. (WWBT) - The Carolina Waterfowl Rescue, which originally had plans to adopt 100 domestic geese from Byrd Park, will postpone their plans.

The organization made the announcement on their Facebook page Thursday, and Richmond’s Department of Parks and Recreation confirms the postponement. In the post, CWR said in part that its “plan was to hold the geese long enough for them to have health checks, testing and thorough screened for adoption only after evaluating their family groups.”

The geese were originally set to be removed from the park on Saturday, Sept. 26, according to the Office of Parks and Recreation. The decision, however, ruffled the feathers of some parkgoers.

“Stuff like this is tradition with my family. My daughter is in her thirty’s, grown, moved out, and moved on, but we did this since she was a kid,” said Darius Uzzell of Chesterfield. It’s a tradition he continues to this day with his 8-year-old son.

He was unhappy to hear that the geese were on their way out of the park but felt even more upset for the other like him, who regularly feed the geese.

“There are going to be families that are going to show up on Sunday morning because a lot of people will do this right after church. They’re going to show up Sunday morning, and the geese are not going to be here," he added. Uzzell makes it a point to show that he does feed the geese the proper food, as he tossed handful after handful of the pellets into Swan Lake

The city cited the move as being a benefit to the health of the animals, adding that the human food constantly being fed to the geese could render them flightless through a condition known as “angel wings”. The food also lead to Canada geese taking up year-round residency in the park rather than their natural instinct to migrate.

“The geese are going to be allowed to live this healthier lifestyle,” said Parks and Recreation spokesperson, Tamara Jenkins, "You’ve had some folks that may have been able to feed them what they’re supposed to be eating: the fowl birdseed. You have other residents and visitors that may have been feeding them white bread - and that is actually a detriment to their health.”

Jenkins added that the removal of the geese is an effort from three community groups - Byrd Park Geese Management Task Force, the Friends of William Byrd Park, and the Byrd Park Civic League - to also address other issues related to the animals.

“It will help with the algae issues. It will also help with the geese droppings that are everywhere,” Jenkins added.

Regardless, some parkgoers are not ready to see these birds make a permanent migration south.

“They are going to pay the price, and have a traumatic removal over the fact that humans put them here, and humans poorly managing them," said Whitney Walters of Richmond.

Sara Joyner, of Henrico, mentioned that she would see the geese daily when she used to live and work by Byrd Park. She only comes on occasion nowadays but says the experience will be a very different one once they are removed.

“I know that the travel for them going down to North Carolina will be stressful, so I’m concerned about that, but I hope that they go to good homes,” Joyner said.

The news of the adoption postponement came as a sigh of relief to some.

“This is where they belong, I believe," said Kathryn Aiken, who lives near Byrd Park. “I’m so happy that they will still continue to be here, they’re fun to watch.”

She says she understands the environmental issues, but says they’re just a part of nature, adding that nearby residents should "tolerate a little inconvenience for animals that are supposed to be here. People should not inhibit everything and think its theirs’.”

Karen Day, a Richmond resident, says she’s been in contact with some office in North Carolina in an effort to stop the adoption.

“They’re an institution. These geese were out here when I was a little girl, or before," she said.

The CWR closed their post by saying that it would reconnect with the city “on the best path for the geese.”

NBC12 did call and email the Carolina Waterfowl Rescue for a full statement on their decision but have yet to hear back.

For more information about Carolina Waterfowl Rescue, click here.

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