Waterfowl cause cleanup problems

(Photo by: Tyler Brown) Ducks and geese populate the Ada Lindquist Plaza on campus. These birds cause major clean up problems when they don't migrate south for the winter.
(Photo by Tyler Brown) Ducks and geese populate the Ada Lindquist Plaza on campus. These birds cause major cleanup problems when they don’t migrate south for the winter.

The geese and ducks that surround campus all year round are here to stay. Many don’t fly south for the winter. Although these nomadic birds do not typically pose a threat to student life and campus function, Weber State University Facilities Management has to deal with what these birds leave behind.

“They are a blessing and a curse, really,” said Rick Wade, the director of Campus Services.

According to Wade, the ducks and geese are protected under the Migratory Bird Act and can’t be handled or harmed because it’s against the law. He said WSU is a nice place for the birds to stay. None of them were placed here, and they all migrated to campus on their own.

The ducks themselves don’t seem to be a bother to students as much as what they leave behind.

Julia Faulkner, a junior studying respiratory care and therapy, said she loves to feed the ducks, but that the droppings need to go.

“I like to feed them. I think they’re cute. But the poop sucks and the pond smells,” Faulkner said. “They need to drudge it and clean it out, basically — maybe put in a better filter system that circulates the water. If the ducks get sick, they’ll die.”

The droppings left behind require cleanup by the employees in Facilities Management. WSU doesn’t get any water until mid-April, so, until the spring months arrive, the birds’ droppings must be cleaned up by sweeping as opposed to spraying it off.

“Duck poop is a problem during the winter,” Wade said.

He said that, during the colder months, the sun warms up the sidewalks, which is where the ducks and geese will typically perch. The opposite occurs during the summer, and the birds will occupy the grass and shade because the sidewalks are too hot.

Faulkner said she’s not scared of them; she just doesn’t like the droppings. She also said that, if she had to choose between the ducks and having a clean environment on campus, she would choose the clean campus.

Stevie Germer, a pay lot operator, said the geese and ducks contribute to the atmosphere of WSU.

“I don’t think they are a curse,” Germer said. “I think that they contribute a lot to how nice it is here, because I do believe that it is nice here.”

While spending her mornings and afternoons working in the pay lot kiosk,  Germer said, she often watches the ducks and geese and feeds them. She said she even has a favorite goose out of the group that hangs out by her kiosk.

“I think it’s really neat to watch them too,” Germer said. “They are all pretty harmless.”

Logan Carter, a freshman studying generals, said he remembers feeding the ducks as a child when his mother was attending classes at WSU. He said he doesn’t have a fear of geese, although he has been chased and bitten before.

“They don’t really bother me . . . I think it’s actually really great for the university to have it there, to keep the natural habitat here,” Carter said about the duck pond at the west central side of campus. “. . . Every now and then, I will go and feed them if I have time or if I have bread.”

Facilities Management neither encourages nor discourages feeding the ducks and geese as long as they are unharmed. However, the geese have been known to get in the way of campus employees, especially when landscaping management tries to mow the lawns on campus.

“We’ve had a few geese chase us around,” Wade said. “Geese are like teenagers. They do whatever they dang well please.”