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(Posted 9 a.m., Aug. 21)
Remote control drone keeping geese at bay on Petrie Island

By Fred Sherwin
Orléans Online

Orleans Ward Coun. Bob Monette examines the 'Goosebuster' aerial drone as operator Steve Wambolt looks on. Ottawa Sun Photo

After years trying to find an effective way to keep geese from polluting Petrie Island, the city has finally found a device that appears to be doing the job.

Aerial Perspective founder Steve Wambolt originally tried to sell the city a means to survey city property using a remote control drone. When Orléans Ward Coun. Bob Monette saw the presentation he thought of another use for the device.

Petrie Island has been plagued with marauding Canada Gesse ever since the city turned the former sand quarry into a public beach and landscaped it with grass. That was in 2007.

Over the years the migrating geese population has grown into well over 100. The geese graze on the grass, leaving their feces in their wake. The feces break down when it rains and leaches into the sand and the water causing high levels of e-coli bacteria.

The city has used sound devices and human deterents in the past with limited success. They agreed to pay Wambolt $60 an hour up to a maximum of $30,000 as a pilot project.

Wambolt hit the beach with his remote control drone, dubbed "The Goosebuster", at the beginning of the month. He usually arrives at 4 a.m. and operates the drone, which blasts predator sounds using an ammplification system, for three hours. He then returns later in the day for another two or three hours.

Since Wambolt and his Goosebuster hit the beach the geese population has dropped from a high of 140 on July 29 to no more than a couple of dozen stubburn birds.

"In going forward our strategy, instead of waiting for them to land on the beach and chase them off, is to get there before they land. We’re hoping once they find the area inhospitable enough, they won’t come back,” says Wambolt.

Like most migratory birds, Canada Geese are creatures of habt. They usually return to traditional nesting grounds year after year unless their habit is broken by a deterent. In this case the drone.

Wambolt says the budget should allow him to continue to operate until October. City staff will assess the success of the device at that time and decide whether or not to fund the program for next year.

The city spent over $1 million to create the beach and park on Petrie Island which is severely underutilized given the surrunding population. Attendance has been down due to the public's perception that the water is unsafe, which is fueled by media reports of sewage spills into the Ottawa River every time there is a heavy rainfall.

In reality the occurences are very infrequent and the river current and multiple days of sunshine and high temperatures act as a natural filltration system.

(This story was made possible thanks to their generous support of our local business partners.)

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