Crossroads Church in Aurora battles geese invasion

A church in Aurora says its property has been overrun by thousands of geese.
January 14, 2014 4:32:26 PM PST
A church in Aurora says its property has been overrun by thousands of geese. It has tried dozens of suggestions to drive them away. It even tried shooting the geese, but nothing has worked.

According to neighbors, it's like clockwork. They arrive by the hundreds, even thousands. While many consider the geese to be a beautiful part of wildlife, for many in this Aurora neighborhood, they are also a huge nuisance.

"They're flying over all the time, and you can hear them when they're flying in terms of the squawking and stuff from them," said Ryan Geibel, Aurora resident.

During much of the day they sit in this nearby farm field doing whatever geese do. But every afternoon a little after 4 p.m. they fly over to this pond about a half mile away, where they settle in for the night. The lake sits on property owned by the Crossroads Church. The huge complex features lots of grassy fields on more than 70 acres, which they use for baseball and soccer fields. Except that the geese are loud, and according to the pastor, even occasionally chase after children-- which makes using those fields almost impossible.

"It pretty much knocks us out of being able to use these fields the way they were intended to because they have a lot of droppings and they do that everywhere," said Matt Stovall, executive pastor at Crossroads Church.

The church has tried numerous methods to try to drive the geese away, including everything from dogs to decoys, to controlled hunting with the blessing of the Illinois Department of Natural Resources. Several neighbors complained about the shooting, and that license is about to expire. Nothing so far has worked. The church wants the property to be open for public use and city officials are trying to help, but it turned out to be a difficult problem.

"Most definitely a sticky problem, in general, the area has really become a centerpiece for the community," said Clayton Muhammed, Aurora spokesperson.

Even if the church succeeds in driving the geese away, they will likely then just be someone else's problem.

"I may eradicate the problem here, but if the food sources and habitat are just a little bit different a little downstream from here, the problem's just going to go there next," said Stovall.

Church leaders say the next step is likely to have someone there around the clock to keep the birds away. They say that the problem is, if the geese do indeed leave here, then where do they go?