Gator Aid: Deep South decoy deters beachgoing geese
If you spot an alligator lurking near Rideau Ferry beach this summer, don't be alarmed – he isn't here for you.
Unless, of course, you're a Canada Goose.
The floating alligator head anchored just off the beach on Lower Rideau Lake is one of several goose-proofing tools the Rideau Valley Conservation Authority (RVCA) is testing this summer to discourage the nuisance birds from squatting on shore – and to reduce beach closures due to their excessive poop.
Goose poop is a leading cause of E.Coli spikes in the water around the beach, which is monitored weekly throughout the summer by the Leeds, Grenville and Lanark District Health Unit. If E.Coli levels get too high, swimming is not advised. The beach has already been closed to swimming once this summer, and on the Canada Day long weekend, to boot.
That's where Gary the Gator comes in. While Canada geese don't meet many alligators during their summer sojourn in the north, gators are all-too-familiar foes during the winter months when geese migrate south in search of sun and food. The hope is that the sight of Gary the Gator will be scary enough to keep geese well away from the public swimming area.
But Gary's not alone in his mission. Mackie the Coyote also stands guard on shore to ward off any wayward geese, and staff have planted pheromone posts which waft coyote scent across the beach (undetectable by humans, of course).
"Gary and Mackie are doing their best to keep the beach free of geese, and our dedicated human staff are here to support them, too," said Scott Muldoon, manager of field operations for the RVCA. "We are happy to have geese on the lake, but when they outnumber our beachgoers, don't pay their entry fee and make a huge mess - we have to encourage them to move off the beach."
So next time you're daytripping to Rideau Ferry's top summer spot, look for our goose-busting helpers and thank them for their service - before taking a refreshing dip in the lake, free of geese and gators alike.
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