Utah Department of Corrections

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Prison Geese Get New Homes

 It is release day at the Utah State Prison — and it is not just offenders who are headed for better locales today.

About 50 employees and volunteers with the Division of Wildlife Resources spent the morning rounding up geese from prison property.

We've got gaggles and gaggles and gaggles of geese who love the property's canals and wide open spaces. They leave a visible mess and have been getting aggressive with inmates, visitors and staff.

As staff began searching for ways to deal with the growing problem, a lieutenant reached out to an acquaintance who works for DWR and enlisted help.

Rich Hansen, waterfowl-banding coordinator, said DWR has been rounding up urban geese in other parts of the Salt Lake Valley for the past 11 years, but this is the first time it has responded to the prison.

The adults are molting, which lessened odds they'd take flight to avoid capture.

Hansen said young geese are relocated to marshes, such as Howard Slough Waterfowl Management area near Ogden Bay. They placed in an area where they can imprint on wild geese.

The adults are relocated to Browns Park National Wildlife Refuge in Vernal — far enough on the other side of the Wasatch Mountains that they are unlikely to return to the valley.

Each goose receives a unique alphanumeric collar and band that helps track future movements.

Over the past 11 years, DWR has relocated about 4,000 geese and just 100 have returned to their capture sites, Hansen said.

"They are doing exactly what we want them to do — migrating and staying out in the marshes, out of the city, and providing hunter opportunities," he said.

On Tuesday, DWR had captured 46 adults and 96 young geese at the Timpanogos and Oquirrh facilities — a count that doesn't include the last stop around noon at the canal near the main entrance to the prison.