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Citizens defend Cosby Lake geese to Clay Council

By Crystal McGough

For The Tribune

Clay citizens filled city hall Tuesday night to show their support of the geese at Cosby Lake and plead with the city council to reconsider the city’s plans to get rid of them.

During the regular council meeting, public comments opened with Dr. Judy Rapp, a citizen of Pinson and fourth grade teacher at Gwin Elementary School in Hoover, sharing with the council her love of the city, Cosby Lake and the geese.

“I am not a Clay resident,” Rapp said. “However, I kind of feel like I should be a Clay resident. I’ve fallen in love with this city. I spend a lot of time out here. I have an investment in your community. I fell in love with Lake Cosby several years ago when I started coming out to walk (because) I had a knee injury. I needed a place to rehab and I just fell in love with the lake’s beauty, its people and, of course, the wildlife.”

Rapp said that she regularly walks around Cosby Lake picking up trash and fishing line. She has become known as “the duck lady,” and to some as “the trash lady,” she said.

“As I was walking one day, and as I went around, I noticed a poor little goose with fishing line wrapped around both legs,” she said. “So, to date, I kind of help those in need. I have a passion for animals.

“I don’t swim, but I get into the lake up to my knees and I pull trash out. It’s important to me to do my part as I walk. I do it willingly. I help keep the grounds clean.”

Rapp said that spending up to three hours at a time at the lake has given her the opportunity to mingle with Clay citizens who come out to enjoy the wildlife and feed the geese.

“What I’m really here to talk about is the wildlife out there,” she said. “I know a lot of people think that they’re a nuisance. I get that. A lot of people love them. There are just as many people that love them (as) don’t. I guess what I’m saying, I said I have an investment in this community (and the geese) mean a lot to me. I ask you to please reconsider the conversation I had with  (City Manager) Ronnie (Dixon) that they had to go. Please, let’s rethink that, because that’s part of the beauty of that lake. If they weren’t important, that many people wouldn’t go out and feed them. Please, I ask you to reconsider keeping our wildlife where it is.”

According to Mayor Charles Webster, the geese are causing health issues at the lake.

“We have had the water out there tested and there is some health issues with that water because of the geese,” he said. “We have so many of them. There is some bacteria and stuff in that water that’s caused by the geese and it is a health hazard. What we have to do is look at the whole picture. We have children out there.

“I love the geese, too, and my grandkids go out there and we feed the geese,” Webster said. “But there’s so many of them (that) if it keeps getting worse and worse, you wouldn’t be able to walk around the lake.

“We’re going to discuss it and we’re going to do the right thing, but we have to look at the whole picture and look at the safety of the citizens that walk around that lake. I don’t want any kid around that lake to get any kind of infection and die from the geese walking around that lake or being in the lake. The geese are not important as much as is one child’s life.”

Clay residents James (Jim) and Selena Shinn also expressed their concerns about the geese, particularly two domestic Chinese geese that live at Cosby Lake.

Selena asked the council if the city planned to only get rid of the Canadian geese, or if the plans include all geese at Cosby Lake.

“We have two Chinese geese that were brought there by a man,” she said. “I’ve been feeding the geese for over five years. He asked me did I think it would be alright for him to bring this couple of Chinese geese to the lake and set them free.”

Selena said she told the man that she didn’t know and that he would have to ask the city if it would be all right.

“The next week, there were the Chinese geese,” she said. “He had brought them to the lake. They cannot fly, so they are domestic. Are you talking about killing them, too?”

“I don’t know that anybody has the right to put anything out there,” City Manager Ronnie Dixon said. “All we’re looking at is the quality of the land, the quality of the water and the number of the birds that are there. Nobody’s looking at what type of bird they are. I don’t know the difference.”

Selena explained that in comparison to the Canadian geese, the Chinese geese, one male and one female, are pure white. She and her husband nicknamed them “the honkers” because of how vocal they are.

“I just ask you, please don’t get rid of the honkers,” she said. “Please don’t get rid of the ducks. I know that you want to (get rid) of the Canadian geese. I understand that.”

Selena’s husband Jim Shinn also asked the city to spare the Chinese geese, and added that there are more problems at Cosby Lake than just the geese.

“There are much more things at play than just the geese and the bacteria that’s in the lake,” Jim said. “That’s an old lake and the lake is basically a mud hole that everything collects in. As it fills up, the level may look the same, but actually the water volume is decreasing.”

“We know that, too,” said Webster

Jim added, “When the weather changes, everything on the bottom that’s held down by the cold water flips up to the top, so you’re going to have these rising and falls of pH, rising and falls of bacteria. A lot of it is affected by the geese, and some of it is just decades and decades of everything getting washed down the road in there.”

Webster said that the city is looking into having the lake dredged, but that it is very costly.

As for the Chinese geese, “I don’t think we’re targeting the white ones, or the special ones, or the little ducks,” Webster said. “It’s just the large quantity of Canadian geese. It’ll be handled properly and it’s going to be done the right way.”

Dixon also said that the city does not plan to use poison on the geese.

“We are not going to poison, because that’s indiscriminate,” he said. “Anything that eats the poison will die. So I know we’re not going to do that. Other than that, we can’t risk a listeria outbreak in the city of Clay because of the number of birds that are at the lake.”

The final person to speak on the geese and the condition of Cosby Lake was Clay resident Shannon Barnett.

“You mention children falling in the lake,” Barnett said. “(There) hasn’t been, to my public knowledge as a citizen of Clay, any kind of problems with the water quality, and that concerns me. Why don’t we know about this? As far as public knowledge, I think citizens of Clay need to know about it. When is it going to be public knowledge about the quality of the lake and (that there are) leeches in the lake?”

Webster and Dixon both said that there are “no swimming” signs posted at the lake for that reason.

“That’s why we say there’s no swimming in the lake,” Webster said. “We don’t allow swimming. If we see somebody swimming down there, we’re going to stop them.”

Webster also said, “If we get any results that there’s a danger to somebody, we’ll let everybody know.”

“As far as the geese and the children are concerned, I have video footage of the geese literally coming up to my children and letting them feed them,” Barnett said. “It’s not the matter of the kids being in trouble or the poop on the ground. It’s the matter of the quality of the lake and what humans put into the lake.

“These people moved here; there’s a lake here; there’s geese here,” she said. “They chose to build their house here. God created these animals, and God created you, and God created your grandchildren. These geese have a lot of qualities that you need to consider.”

Barnett said that there is a Clay citizen she knows of, but could not release a name at this time, who is more than willing to help relocate the geese.

She also said that there are 12 reviews of the city of Clay on, and “each one of these 12 reviews from people mention Cosby Lake and the geese, and how much they enjoy them. You have to think, the children actually do love them.”



  1. Allen Pugh says:

    Keep the geese get rid of the Clay Council if they remove our geese

  2. Let the geese be geese. They were probably coming to Cosby Lake long before Clay was built and established

  3. Responsible wildlife conservation calls for the thinning of a population when a certain species gets too numerous for the area it occupies. They will run out of suffient food and resources to thrive at the lake if the population continues to grow. Relocating some of them is a good thing and will insure their survival.

  4. When cities do this, they almost never relocate them. They are normally killed.

  5. Clay City Council, if you remove the geese, we will remove you all from city council next election.

  6. Most need to be removed from city council.

  7. Well I don’t support that. I’m sure there are people that are willing to help relocate. For the love, if there are crazy people willing to get snakes, I’m sure we can find people that want geese! Lol

  8. I think that speaks pretty loud and clear. Well done!

  9. Leave the geese alone. We love seeing them on our walks.

  10. i’ve read before where ppl complain too about all the poop and whatever else.i’m 100% animal lover but i thought there is dogs running all through my neighborhood over here off queenstown pooping all in my yard,do we get rid of the dogs too?we have geese over here too that hang out at the ponds and i think they are beautiful to look at!!

  11. Matt Coleman says:

    Some of y’all geese lovers need to get educated on this subject before you comment .they are destroying our water ,and property ,and are a health hazard .Canadian geese do not belong in alabama in the numbers we have them .dont y’all think it’s more responsible to manage wildlife correctly instead of ignoring a health hazard because y’all like to look at geese lol

  12. Matt Coleman says:

    I hope none of y’all ,or your kids don’t get sick because of those beautiful geese .how pretty would they be then ? They don’t belong here period

  13. September 1st….. opening day

  14. Please, please, please get rid of the geese! When I walk around the lake, which I do almost every day, I have to be sure that I leave my shoes in the basement so that I don’t track it in my house. I live in Cosby Gardens and last week the geese were in my front yard. I do not want these prolific poopers in my yard! And finally, last year at the lake a child was feeding those “lovely white geese” and when the feeding stopped, the goose became aggressive towards the child. When my father literally pulled the goose off of the child, it attacked him, requiring him to need stitches. I despise these nasty things. Incidentally, so do my friends who live in Canada!

  15. Just so yall know geese are carriers for avian flu they are not affected by it but carry it and spread it by their poo which they poo a lot. It would be hard to get rid of them sense they migrate every year so if you get rid of those geese there will be more. No good answer to the problem.

  16. Sherry Hair says:

    Heather Hair Meissen
    Wow, I’m glad someone spoke up. I wish I had been there.

  17. Nikki Smith says:

    I read somewhere that geese fly back to the same locations. I believe killing them was the only option according to the article I read but I don’t know how true that really is. So sad if so. 😞

  18. Yeah most fowl do follow certain migratory patterns. Hmmm

  19. Welp… humans are here. Guess its time for us to go… get some community service people to walk around picking up the poop.
    Cosby lake is to America, as geese are to Indians.

  20. Thanksgiving is only 12 weeks away !

  21. Please correctly call them Canada Geese.

  22. As someone who lives ON a pond, I fully support getting rid of the Canadian geese. I have not actually dealt with any issues with the geese myself on Cosby, but I have seen them chase after people before and see plenty of fights between them. And as someone who has to deal with them regularly on my ponds every year, they can be quite nasty.
    I would like the ducks to stick around. They are far less aggressive than the Canadian geese.

    Plus the area in general would look a lot nicer without them around.

  23. Tyler Young says:

    I’m not a resident of clay , but I do carry my daughter there and we love them there. My 3 year old loves them and they are not hurting anyone. Why hurt them ?? I grew up in that area and always have loved that lake. Shame on you clay if you get rid of them.

  24. Fuck geese they can suck my ass
    Worst animals ever

  25. Like Benson said in Regular show, “Geese are highly territorial, warlike birds”
    That was not a joke lol

  26. I learned the hard way too

  27. If you ever need to get rid of your geese, just let me know , opening season is first of September! 😆

  28. Craig Mix says:

    LEAVE NATURE ALONE! Residents unite and “Drain the swamp” of Clay City Council! Vote these losers out of office – they do not represent us!

  29. Robbie Allen says:

    Geese are nasty creatures.

  30. Just wait til someone gets ecoli or salmonella poisoning… then everyone will be saying “the geese have got to go.” Canada geese are supposed to be migratory birds but these aren’t migrating.

  31. Bravo, Lisa Page Byrd. But please do not relocate them in my direction!!!

  32. I think there are too many and they are nasty.

  33. I hate the too! They are nasty and mean. I saw what they did to your father. Glad at least one was shot that day!

  34. Leave the geese alone it is their home

  35. Not all geese migrate, many flocks h Ave become permanent residents here in Alabama. It’ll be a temporary solution. Another gagal will find the lake suitable for their needs……

  36. Don Baker says:

    Perry the City Council is not doing it. All we have done is hear public comment from 3 speakers. We did not bring the issue forward nor have we voted on anything

  37. Don Baker, that’s why I said “if.” IF it comes up for a vote among city council I will be paying attention to who votes for and against. IF you get rid of the geese I will lose all desire to go to Cosby Lake Park. And based on some of the other comments I’ve read I don’t think I’ll be alone.

  38. Don Baker says:

    My above statement was for clarification purposes only. Look forward to seeing you at a Council meeting sometime.

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