In Braintree, activists protest goose hunt on golf course

Say town ignoring humane methods

BRAINTREE -- About 15 members of the Massachusetts Animal Rights Coalition yesterday protested the city's decision to allow the hunting of Canada geese on the Braintree municipal golf course this winter, drawing occasional waves, hoots, and honks from passing drivers.

The protestors, from surrounding towns, the Cape, and central Massachusetts, stood on street corners and traffic islands at the intersection of Washington and Plain streets for two hours. Bundled in hats, gloves, and parkas, they waved a wooden goose carving and signs saying ''Stop the Slaughter" and ''No Blood for Golf."

''I love the geese. I know they go to the bathroom here and there, but there are other ways of removing them," said Jordan Gallagher, a 66-year-old retired construction worker from Dorchester. ''When man has a problem today, whether it's wolves, bears, or birds, the first thing they do is kill."

Last month selectmen, as they have done every year since 1995, lifted a ban on hunting to allow the annual shooting of birds to cut back on their population. About 100 to 400 Canada geese inundate the golf course with an estimated production of 1 to 3 pounds of droppings per goose per day, the golf course superintendent, Daryn Brown, said last month. Shotgun-wielding hunters can begin targeting the geese on Friday on certain parts of the golf course during the day.

Statewide, the resident Canada goose population has boomed from about 7,000 in 1970 to 40,000, according to the state Division of Fisheries and Wildlife. While federal law protects migratory Canada geese, resident geese, like those at the golf course, can be hunted.

Protesters want town and golf course officials to consider more humane methods to keep away the geese. Such methods, they said, have worked on golf courses in Plymouth, Boston, and Sharon. The methods include using lifelike coyote decoys, planting taller vegetation and installing large stones around ponds, and installing flags that ripple in the breeze to make noise. Brown said he has tried using a specially trained border collie to chase away the geese, but they returned.

Helen Rayshick, executive director of the coalition, said hunting geese does not prevent them from returning. The birds feed on the short, manicured grass on golf courses, she said. Canada geese mate for life and can die if their mates die, she said.

''Charles Kokoros, chairman of the Braintree Board of Selectmen, said he voted to allow the hunt because the goose droppings on the golf course and athletic fields presents a health issue for the town's children, including his two sons who play sports. Kokoros said the town has tried other methods to rid the fields and golf course of geese but nothing has worked.

''It's just way too many feces. It's impossible to clean up and they spread disease," said Kokoros, who drove past the protesters yesterday on his way to his dry-cleaning business. ''There are kids out there rolling in it, tackling in it. It isn't healthy."

The protesters plan to return to the same intersection, about a half-mile away from the golf course, at 1 p.m. Saturday.

''I think we need to recognize that these are wildlife and this is their habitat," said Steve Rayshick, Helen Rayshick's husband and an English professor from Barre. ''We need to find a humane way to live with them."

Tracy Jan can be reached at

Shotguns replace golf clubs as town takes aim at geese

November 8, 2005

The Patriot Ledger


Golf club-swinging duffers at the Braintree Municipal Golf Course will soon be replaced with shotgun-wielding hunters as the town attempts to control a pesky goose problem.

Starting Dec. 16 and running through February, licensed hunters will be allowed to shoot and bag Canada geese, which continue to flock to and foul the golf course.

‘‘It’s a huge problem,’’ Braintree Parks Superintendent William Hedlund said.

The geese don’t steal golf balls or attack golfers, although they are unafraid of humans. The problems stems from the large amount of feces produced by the geese.

A mature Canada goose weighs 14 to 17 pounds and can produce 2 to 3 pounds of feces daily.

That’s 2 to 3 pounds multiplied by the hundreds of geese that are drawn to the golf course’s manicured fairways, streams and ponds.

‘‘What they need is fresh water and grass, and a golf course or athletic field is the perfect place for them to maintain residence,’’ Hedlund said.

Goose feces can contaminate local water supplies - Richardi Reservoir is next to the course - and leave burns in the grass.

Golf course manager Daryn Brown owns a border collie that is used to chase geese off the course. However, the geese continue to return.

‘‘This is just one measure in maintaining control over the exploding population,’’ Hedlund said.

Although Braintree has a bylaw against hunting in the town, selectmen can declare an emergency and suspend the ordinance.

Selectmen last night did just that. They set the dates of hunt from Dec. 16 until Jan. 7, and then Jan. 15 to Feb. 16. Hunting will be restricted to the hours between dawn and dusk, and limited to the 6th, 7th, 12th, 13th, 14th, 15th, and 16th holes, which are located away from homes.

Hunters must be licensed, approved by the Braintree Police Department and follow state hunting guidelines.

There have been goose hunts at the golf course in years past. Previous hunts yielded as few as a dozen geese and as many as 125.

Your Views

What’s your solution to getting rid of unwanted Canada geese? Are they really a problem?

Reach Rick Collins at

Copyright 2005 The Patriot Ledger
Transmitted Tuesday, November 08, 2005


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