SHOOT TO KILL: NLR council approves short goose hunt in Burns Park to thin numbers
In an effort to reduce the population of Canada geese, the North Little Rock City Council voted Monday to allow hunting in Burns Park from Dec. 20-22.
The council followed the recommendation of the North Little Rock Recreation Commission, which endorsed the plan last month. However, for it to become law, it had to be passed by the council.
North Little Rock park ranger Kate Finfield said that according to the city’s Parks and Recreation Department, there currently are about 200 Canadian geese at Burns Park and the numbers need to be lessened.
“Right now we have about 25 nests at Burns Park,” Finfield said. “It is a lot easier to find 25 nests than it is 75 nests.”
The city will permit hunters from 6:30 to 9:30 a.m. each day of the hunt. The start time is about 30 minutes before sunrise. Burns Park will be closed to visitors from 6-10 a.m. on those days.
The closure covers all of the park south of Arlene Laman Drive, the golf course, the North Little Rock Animal Shelter, the Burns Park Soccer Complex, the Shilcutt Bayou boat ramp area, Campbell Lake Park east of the intersection of the Arkansas River Trail and Campbell Lake Gravel Trail.
The hunting locations will be the front line of the two golf courses, the soccer complex and the area encompassing the dog park and Victory Lake.
“North Little Rock police officers will be stationed at four points to prevent unauthorized access to the closed areas,” Finfield said.
Signs will be posted at least two weeks before the first day of the scheduled hunt to notify the public of the dates and times that specific areas of the park, incluyding trails, will be closed. Signs will be monitored daily and replaced or repaired as needed.
Not every person wanting to hunt the geese will be allowed. They must apply for a Burns Park Hunting permit, she said.
To be eligible, a person must:
Those chosen to participate in the hunt will be notified by telephone by 8 p.m. on Wednesday, Dec. 7.
Finfield said the goal of the program is to severely reduce the number of resident Canada geese along the north bank of the Arkansas River, primarily in Burns Park.
“Canada geese have used Burns Park as a stopover during their annual migrations for many years,” she said. “However, in recent years, many of the geese have made Burns Park, Riverfront Park and Central Arkansas their home. They are now considered resident geese.”
Reasons for their permanent stay include Arkansas’ climate, Burns park’s abundance of shelter and the food supplied by citizens.
Finfield said there are several reasons the population reduction program is now necessary, including the potential for human illness from the diseases they spread through their droppings.