At first it looks like it's all fun and games, with two remotely controlled boats buzzing across the Kentucky Horse Park lake, slowly herding about 65 Canada geese to shore.
But goose removal is a very serious undertaking and should not be tried at home, mostly because you need a special federal permit. The second reason is known, delicately, as goose grease.
Goose grease is one of the main reasons that employees of the Kentucky Department of Fish and Wildlife Resources were at the Horse Park on Tuesday for a goose roundup, which involves herding, holding and gently tagging the geese without getting too covered in goopy green waste.
As biologist Joe Lacefield joked, "It's a crappy job, but someone's got to do it."
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The Canada geese have settled at the Horse Park because it's a nice place to live. They like the neatly mowed grass around the lake, they like to nest there and eat there and swim around the lake, and then they like to fly into the new stadium next to the lake and poop all over roughly $1.2 million in footing — the synthetic surface designed for competition — recently installed there.
Sometimes they even fly in there while horses are competing, which happened during one of the test events for the Alltech FEI World Equestrian Games.
But Canada geese are protected under the international Migratory Bird Treaty Act. So moving them — at least 150 miles or they'll just come back — requires a permit from federal wildlife authorities.
"It took a lot of paperwork," said Rocky Pritchert, migratory bird program coordinator for Fish and Wildlife.
But federal officials agreed that the Games were important enough for the move, and June was the time to do it because the goslings are no longer too small, and the adults are molting their feathers and can't just fly away.
So a group of about 10 wildlife experts herded the geese into a grove of shady pine trees and got to work.
One by one, the birds were picked up gently behind their wings and handed to Pritchert and Lacefield, who were set up on camp chairs. They would deftly tuck a bird's head under one of its wings to keep it relaxed, identify its gender and clamp a numbered metal band on its leg.
In less than an hour, all the birds were loaded into a specially partitioned trailer to separate young from old. Then they were bound for their new home on reclaimed strip-mine land near water in Muhlenburg County.
Next year, Pritchert said, the adults probably will be back. About a third of the geese live up to their name and actually migrate to Canada's Hudson Bay.
"We don't understand why they don't all migrate," he said.
Horse Park director John Nicholson just hopes all the geese don't migrate back to the park. He said the number has decreased from at least 1,000 at one time, thanks to The Pond Lady, Lexington resident Lynn Rushing.
She set up strobe lights, which disturb the geese's sleep, and a sound system that broadcasts the call of distressed geese. The ones left behind, she said, "really wanted to live there.
"We wanted to be non-harmful to the goose and create an environment where they're not welcome," Rushing said. "Canada geese are an issue here because their numbers are so extreme."