It only took a couple of hours Thursday morning for members of the Kansas Wildlife and Parks office to round up about 140 ducks and geese at Lakeside Park.

It only took a couple of hours Thursday morning for members of the Kansas Wildlife and Parks office to round up about 140 ducks and geese at Lakeside Park.
“It went wonderfully,” said Jeff Wilbert, interim parks and recreation director. “I was a little apprehensive in that I didn’t know quite how it was going to happen. But Mr. (Tom) Glick and the Kansas Wildlife and Parks Department were very professional.”
Out of the 140 birds removed, Wilbert said about 80 were geese, with about 65 Canada Geese and 15 domestic geese. The rest of the birds were ducks of several different varieties, he said.
“That left about 30 or so mallards, both male and female, that could fly, so they couldn’t be caught,” Wilbert said. “I’m guessing there were some in the neighborhoods that we didn’t see, but we took care of most of them at the lake.”
The capture came after Pittsburg City Commissioners unanimously voted Tuesday to take steps to improve the park’s bird situation. Before the capture, Wilbert estimated there were more than 200 birds at the lake, something that Crawford County Health Officer Janis Goedeke cited as a health concern.
Also as part of the steps the city elected to take, the duck house will be taken down, and feeding at the park will be prohibited.
While the commission vote was unanimous, the four citizens who spoke at the meeting were split on what to do. Saipin Gillis, a Pittsburg State University graduate and member of the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, questioned whether the birds were the park’s real problem.
“If you are really at the park every day, you will see trash is always floating in the water,” Gillis said. “What are you going to do (with) removing people who are littering or feeding fowl, just post a simple sign (that says), ‘No Littering.’
“Vandalism and littering are the major cause of water pollution at our Lakeside Park,” Gillis said. “Humans cause as much of the problem as the ducks and geese.”
But Wilbert said that taking out the ducks and geese gave parks and recreation staff a nice head start on cleaning up the park.
“I just drove by at about 4 p.m., and the lake looks very peaceful and looks calm,” Wilbert said. “We plan to have a crew out there in the next week or so to clean up the sidewalks as well.
“This is about turning the lake back to the people, so to speak,” Wilbert said. “I hope people can now have the opportunity to go out there and enjoy it even more.”

Kevin Flaherty can be reached at kevin.flaherty@morningsun.net or by calling 231-2600 Ext. 134