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Municipality files for permit to shoot geese

The barnacle goose is a protected species and a familiar sight in Finland, but not one everyone welcomes. Goose droppings frequently cause bacterial spikes on beaches where people swim. The municipality of Asikkala is trying to get a difficult-to-attain license to get rid of the birds by force.

Valkoposkihanhen jätöksiä Vääksyn uimarannalla.

Barnacle geese fill parks and beaches with their excrement every year, annoying the people there while creating a health and safety issue.

According to Ely Centre archives three applications for use of force when dealing with the geese have been filed in Finland. Two of them were denied and one of them is currently being processed.

A permit is also needed for frequently shooing and disturbing the animals. Three applications have been granted for such routing out of barnacle geese.

"These licenses are never handed out routinely. The justification has to be sound, as they have been so far," says Ville Vasko from the Finland Proper research centre. He says, however, that the application is unlikely to go through regardless.

Asikkala vying for shooting permit

The municipality of Asikkala in Päijät-Häme has an application in the works for a license to shoot some of the barnacle geese that frequent a popular beach in Vääksy.

Technical director Harri Hirvonen says that the permit is for a few individual birds, and that all fifty geese would then leave of their own accord once a few of them were disposed of first.

The Vääksy beach was closed for some days in June due to faecal bacteria being discovered in the water. The geese are suspected of spreading the bacteria.

Other measures

Asikkala will be sending in a revised application next week. If it goes through it will be the first permit for a gaggle as small as the one at Vääksy – those in the capital region can be hundreds or even thousands strong.

Conservation specialist Tero Toivanen from Bird Life Finland says he wishes permits like this weren't necessary.

"This issue comes up every summer and it's made into a bigger deal than it is," he says. "We are all for less drastic measures, everything has to be tried before we start killing these geese."

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