CHATTANOOGA, Tenn. (AP) — The president of Chattanooga State Community College says he didn't know federal wildlife agents would kill the geese they removed from the campus.
According to the Chattanooga Times Free Press, the U.S. Department of Agriculture's Wildlife Services program destroyed about 100 Canada geese they trapped at the school last week.
While Chattanooga State President Jim Catanzaro said the geese were a health hazard because of their copious droppings, he indicated surprise at the outcome of the university's call for help.
"I certainly did not know they were going to be killed," he said.
Catanzaro said he was told wildlife officials would release them on a preserve in West Tennessee.
But Keith Blanton, who supervises the program's Knoxville District, says the school was told, when the geese were removed on July 3, that they could be placed elsewhere or euthanized. Blanton said the population of geese keeps expanding and there are fewer places to release ones being removed.
"We've got geese all over the state," Blanton said.
Blanton said studies have shown that if the geese aren't taken at least 100 miles from where they were collected, they might return.
"These sites are getting harder and harder to find," Blanton said.
Wildlife officials estimate the non-migratory population of Canada geese in Tennessee is between 60,000 and 80,000. Hunters bag about 20,000 annually and the population continues to expand.
Blanton said the geese are attracted to areas like college campuses because of freshly cut grass and the lack of predators.
Chattanooga State officials said the result of the geese living on campus wasn't pretty. Grounds crews removed between 50 and 100 pounds of droppings daily and the birds routinely darted in front of cars.
Chattanooga State had tried placing a coyote figure made of wire on the campus and college Associate Vice President Eva Lewis said the school also tried noisemakers.
Canada geese in urban areas are not unique to Tennessee. Blanton said the USDA destroyed 260 of them in New York on Tuesday. Two weeks ago, agents killed 144 of them in Dallas.
Information from: Chattanooga Times Free Press, http://www.timesfreepress.com