A large flock of Egyptian Geese has taken Coconut Creek's Sabal Pines Park - and its sports fields - hostage.
City officials brainstormed potential solutions to what has become a problematic situation with residents who want their park back and environmentalists who don't want to see the geese get harmed at a community meeting held on Monday night.
"Geese poop. That's exactly what it's about," said Paul Friedman, president of the Coconut Creek Football Program, about what's driving the controversy.
More than 150 Egyptian Geese first arrived at Sabal Pines Park about ten weeks ago. The sheer volume of excrement is affecting the impending flag football and cheerleading season for more than 300 kids in the area. The season opener is Saturday, and they've canceled opening ceremonies because of the health risks.
"Our teams, we can't play on our football fields. Right now we're stuck on baseball fields and it's just not fair," Friedman said.
An Egyptian Goose looks a lot like a Canada Goose except it's got a distinct circular coloring around its dark eyes, almost as if it's wearing eyeshadow. They're nonnative, but they've been here long enough to be considered established by the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission.
City officials tried hiring a trapper but that met with criticism from a group of people who don't want to see the geese killed after they were captured.
"You have got to choose humane solutions to wildlife conflicts," Ana Campos said. She works in Coconut Creek and came to the meeting because she's been leading the campaign not to remove the geese from the two football fields.
"The geese, and all animals, need somebody to speak up for them strongly and advocate for them," she said.
Campos said she's seen a decrease in the number of Egyptian Geese in the three weeks the city's been spraying the grass with chemicals.
Parks Superintendent Philip Randazzo said the city's Parks and Recreation Department has come across what feels like endless methods to try to eradicate the geese from the park.
"We have tried putting down pinwheels, reflective tape, we've tried hazing with water, we’ve had signs, we’ve hired a consultant to come out and put down a chemical barrier," Randazzo said. "We’ve been in, pretty much, constant contact with the FWC… There is no one magic cure."
For now, city officials say they'll take the resident feedback and additional ideas, and make a decision in the coming weeks.