Porters at King’s College are using handheld bird scaring laser torches at dawn and dusk to drive away the gaggle of geese which are fouling on the college lawns and dive-bombing punters on the river. The college also plans to oil the goose eggs in the spring to reduce the number of geese, which have frightened away indigenous birds and visitors to the historic college.
“The Canada geese are big bully birds and they have scared off the indigenous birds, so there are none here now,” said Philip Isaac, domus bursar at King’s College. “Two years ago we had around 50 geese on the back lawn and the problem was getting out of hand because they were leaving excrement everywhere and attacking members of the public queuing for evensong in the chapel. We used a number of deterrents to drive them away and last year they seemed to find a better spot to go to, but this summer they have returned and are causing a nuisance again.”
The college now has a gaggle of around 15 Canada geese, which are regularly seen fighting on the River Cam and dive-bombing unsuspecting tourists, who are punting along the picturesque Backs. On one occasion the geese were spotted swooping onto the river and knocking two tourists into the river.
A punt operator said: “You’ve got to be very wary of the geese as they arrive in a flock and swoop onto the water at full speed. I have to watch out for them.”
The birds also leave a huge amount of excrement on the college lawns, which is causing a health hazard as it contains harmful bacteria, which can cause serious illness, including gastroenteritis.
“The laser torches seem to be working at the moment and we will also oil the eggs in the spring to reduce the numbers for next summer,” added Philip.
Canada geese are one of the largest of all geese and come from North America. They are noisy birds, which can have a wing span close to two metres. Numbers in the UK have quadrupled over the past 50 years and the RSPB reports at least 62,000 breeding pairs.