81 geese nabbed, hundreds more on loose
Authorities rounded up 81 geese on the Nevada side of Lake Tahoe on Wednesday morning, and believe there are hundreds more living here.
Supervising wildlife biologist Jack Spencer with USDA Wildlife Services said depending on the season, Tahoe can be home to thousands of Canada geese at one time.
The large birds are apparently prolific waste producers. A 10-pound bird can excrete up to five times an hour totaling an average of four pounds a day of nutrient-rich droppings.
The Tahoe Regional Planning Agency, which is charged with protecting Lake Tahoe’s environment, encourages reducing fertilizer use and getting rid of turf.
“We could really attack this problem by promoting alternate landscaping,” said TRPA spokeswoman Julie Regan. “The geese are only recycling what is already in the environment; they are not adding nutrients.”
Nutrients feed algae growth in Lake Tahoe and are thought to be almost half the problem in the lake’s declining water clarity. The other half is fine sediment.
“Most of the nutrients are coming from runoff tied to erosion,” Regan said. “The clarity model is showing fine sediment is a clear priority.”
Lauri Kemper at the Lahontan Water Board, which regulates water quality in the Sierra, said the agency does not address wildlife issues, but has to factor in the effect of feces in its pollution load models.
The birds can be aggressive. Spencer was bitten a dozen times Wednesday morning.