Fresno State struggling to keep hungry geese away from its farms

FRESNO, Calif. (KFSN) -- Some ghostly images are designed to scare - not people, but visitors with a big appetite.

Fresno State farm manager Robert Willmott had scarecrows in white set up to protect a wheat field from geese that like to gorge.

"You can just see how the field goes and then it drops off," he says. "At one point in time, I counted up to a thousand geese."

Parts of the field are just now recovering from a two-month geese feast.

The wheat looks healthy on the outer edges but the flocks did much of their damage inside.

"They start in the center and they work out and in these really interesting circles," says Willmott.

The scarecrows and flashy ribbons represent the last stand.

The geese ate their way through an alfalfa field before going after the emerging wheat.

Willmott asked the Department of Fish and Wildlife for advice on how to deal with the geese. You can't harm the birds.

"We are implementing what's called hazing practices. Non-lethal means to get the birds to leave your field," he says.

They seem to stay away when the scarecrows are positioned in the right places.

"The bird sees it in the field and thinks it's a person so it doesn't want to land but you have to move the scarecrows around regularly or else the bird will get used to it," says Willmott.

Willmott says the geese come from ponding basins, Millerton Lake and other nearby reservoirs just to have a meal.

The wheat is supposed to feed the cows on campus.

"They're literally taking the feed right out of the mouth of the cow," says Willmott.

Experts say many of the geese in our area don't fly anywhere for the winter because they have plenty of food sources in the Valley.

"For a migratory bird, they seem to be Fresno residents," laughs Willmott.
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