As Rancho Murieta prepares to deal with the increase in population that typically accompanies its Fourth of July festivities, residents found themselves with some unwelcome guests the Canada geese that have settled on the shores of Lake Clementia.
As many as 200 geese have been spotted in the area of the community beach and safe swimming area, according to RanchoMurieta.com. Each goose produces about 1.5 pounds of droppings per day.
"It creates both a blemish on the area's beauty and a potential health problem," the website says.
Rancho Murieta Association's maintenance department is attempting to rid the area of geese before Independence Day.
"We have a population of about 5,000, but that rises to probably 10,000 to 12,000 on the Fourth of July," said Nick Arther, general manager of the Rancho Murieta Association. "We have no problem with having the geese around; we just don't want them on our swim beaches."
Nesting geese have been a recurring problem in Rancho Murieta. Rancho Murieta Country Club hired the Dog and Whistle Goose Control company in Auburn to get rid of the geese that had settled in their ponds back in 2008.
Dog and Whistle used trained border collies to chase away the geese. This process, known as hazing, is meant to instill a fear of predators in the geese, eventually persuading them to leave the area. Attempts at hazing the geese at Lake Clementia have proved unsuccessful so far.
"We've tried the dogs and that worked OK for a month or two, but we're looking for a more permanent solution," said Arther.
The maintenance crews set off computer-controlled propane-powered noise guns early Monday in an attempt to scare the geese into seeking quieter nesting grounds. This relocation tactic has been cleared by the California Department of Fish and Game, the local game warden and a local biologist, said Arther.
The firing of the propane cannons appears to have been successful, but the Rancho Murieta Association plans to order a speaker system to broadcast goose distress calls and predator calls in the area to ensure that the geese do not become conditioned to any one control method.
"We're going to try anything we can short of shooting them to get rid of them," said Arther. "We're not interested in hurting the geese. That is an option, but it's an absolute last resort, and we would like to avoid it."