SUMTER, S.C. — Swan Lake Iris Gardens is trying to keep geese away. The city has installed coyote statues on the grass around the water.
"They’re a nuisance. They really are," Sumter Parks and Garden manager Art Hill explained about the geese. "We’ve been talking about it for a couple of years now figuring out what to do as the population kept growing, kept growing."
The coyote statues are what the city came up with.
Right now three different fake animals stationed on the grass outside the water. Rangers move the statues every two days to make sure the birds don’t catch on.
"So far, geese are staying away, staying on the lake," Hill explained. "Evidently [swans are] smarter than geese because they walk right up to the coyotes and be munching a little bit of grass around 'em, but not doing damage."
This is good because it means the geese aren’t tearing up and killing the grass around the park, Hill says.
"In the summer when they start eating the roots of the Bermuda grass, get down and start tearing it, it’ll actually kill the grass. You’ll have dead spots everywhere," Hill told me. "We had to replace all this grass behind us because the geese population got so bad that they actually ate all the turf."
Trying to cut down on the increasing goose population isn’t only cosmetic, though.
"We’ve got so many geese that they aggravate the swans, I guess, when they’re trying to feed," Hill shrugged.
And the geese are taking the food, which is expensive for the city to provide. This is a concern for Sumter resident and bird enthusiast Linda Barry, who comes to Swan Lake often. Barry tells me she’s noticed a decrease in the amount of geese recently.
"Definitely think it was a great thing. Definitely," Barry shared. "Because it’s not hostile at all. No Canadian geese are harmed in any way, so it’s definitely a plus-plus."