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City takes a gander at geese

Birds fouling up street traffic

Posted: July 2, 2008 1:12 a.m.
Updated: September 2, 2008 5:03 a.m.
 

Santa Clarita traffic engineers are scratching their heads to decide what to do about a flock of jaywalking Canadian geese that have been ruffling feathers of motorists forced to slam their brakes or swerve around the large birds.

About a dozen geese, and some brave ducks, cross Newhall Ranch Road at McBean Parkway in the morning and early evening to get from a pond in the Bridgeport Marketplace to a lake at the Bridgeport residential community on the other side of the street.

“This is not really a typical duck crossing environment,” said City Traffic Engineer Andrew Yi. “It’s usually in very rural country, so that’s kind of something we’re scratching our heads about right now.”

Over the past few months, city officials have been in contact with the state Department of Fish and Game to come up with a solution for the traffic hazard. The Canadian geese and mallard ducks are protected under the Migratory Bird Treaty Act, so the city has also been in contact with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.

Because the animals are migratory birds, “no one owns them,” Yi said. “If they were dogs owned by somebody, then a leash law would apply. I can do as much as I can to warn people, but that’s about it.”

Other than sticking a duck crossing sign in the pavement, Yi isn’t sure what the city would do.

“I don’t mind putting a sign up, but will it really be effective?” he said. “It obviously is not going to control the ducks. Will it be enough to give warnings to the people?”

Yi said the electronic signs that are commonly used to warn motorists of construction work might not be the best option either. The birds don’t cross continuously throughout the day, only during feeding times.

“Say there’s a lot of construction signs. If there’s no construction after those signs, people start ignoring and that’s even more dangerous,” he said. “You have to use traffic control warnings appropriately.”

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