Swans Turn Tide on Pesky Geese

Written by Neal F. Litherland. Posted in Uncategorized

Published on August 24, 2010 with No Comments

by Neal F. Litherland

Geese are as natural a part of the cycle of seasons in Northwest Indiana as molting leaves, changing temperatures and wardrobe shifts. Whether the birds all flock up to Canada and stop by Indiana on a temporary basis or stay here permanently, geese can often cause much frustration for people.

Geese can terrorize local fowl, fill up the local pond, leave messes everywhere, and, while they might look majestic in flight, geese can be adversarial if you get too close to them.

So, how do you keep geese in check? If these foul fowl had an arch nemesis it would be swans. Keeping a swan or two on your pond is one surefire way to keep geese away from your water. Josh Groen, a resident of Cedar Lake, has made an entire career out of this handy little trick.

“I just sort of fell into this line of work,” Groen said. “It started out as something like a hobby, and now, four years later it’s my job.”

Groen’s Wildlife Services, which is headed by Groen, is a business that deals with animal control services — pest removal and relocation — and specializes in dealing with geese. The company (which at the moment is Groen and some associates) is licensed through the Indiana Department of Natural Resources to provide animal control services.

“We’re sort of like animal control subcontractors,” Groen said. “We don’t work for the Department of Natural Resources, but we have their okay to do our job. If we don’t follow their rules, though, we get in trouble, just like if they were our boss.”

Groen has always been familiar with animals and keeping track of them. Groen grew up in Cedar Lake on his family’s exotic animal farm. From a young age, Groen dealt with foxes, deer, emu, swans and other creatures. Compared to that, raccoons and possums aren’t much of a challenge.

“At first it was just our neighbors asking me to come and help them get rid of animals in the attic or under the porch,” Groen said. “Then it just got bigger and bigger, until I decided to make it a business.”

Groen says that of all the services his company provides, geese relocation and prevention is the most popular. Subdivisions, retirement communities, golf courses and other sorts of clients all hire Groen to help keep geese from settling on their land and messing up the scenery. While the company raises dogs that love to chase geese, swans are by far the more popular option.

“There’s just something about swans that my clients like,” Groen said. “An open lake with a pair of swans just swimming along…it’s picturesque, and people really like the look that swans give.”

All of the swans that Groen uses are raised in Cedar Lake on his farm. The swans have their wings clipped when they’re very young so that flying away is never an option or a problem. Clients also have a few different options to choose from when it comes to swans, including whether to buy or rent them for the season.

“All of the swans are used in pairs,” Groen said. “Our clients can choose to buy a pair of swans, or if they want we can rent them a pair of swans. We come by in the first week of April and drop the swans off, and then we pick them up again in the end of October when all of the geese are finished migrating.”

There are a lot of factors that go into how expensive a pair of swans are for a client. Groen says that the price to purchase a pair can range from $2,000 to $7,500, depending on such factors as how old the swans are; whether they are accustomed to dealing with geese; how big the swans are; and practical concerns for the company, such as how far the swans have to be transported to get them to the client.

“We’ve expanded into Illinois now, and travel times and distances are always a concern when we’re doing our job,” Groen said. “But I’m really happy doing what I do. I never would have thought this would turn out to be my job, but here I am. It just goes to show that you can’t be afraid; sometimes you’ve got to just do it.”

For more information and pricing on purchase or rental, visit www.groenswildlifeservices.com, or call 678-2816.

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About Neal F. Litherland

All opinions, conclusions or recommendations expressed are solely those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of The Chronicle. Neal Litherland is a Valparaiso resident who has been a freelance writer for several years. A graduate of Indiana University, he holds a Bachelor's Degree in Criminal Justice. He offers advice on money-saving tips using common-sense tactics. He welcomes suggestions and comments. Contact Neal: neal@thechroniclenwi.com.

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