At KEA, we are nothing if not all-purpose conservation problem-solvers. Of course, we’re busy with clean water, land use, and forest issues. But some days the phone rings and we’ll have a brand new issue to deal with — the dike road trees, for example. Last week, we were flooded with calls about geese.

According to our callers, at least three geese were severely injured while trying to nest on the beams that cross the waterside front of the University of Idaho Coeur d’Alene campus building. It turns out that to deter the geese from nesting – as they have in previous years — a maintenance crew had installed, literally, a bed of 5-inch nails.

Horrified witnesses in the building watched the geese struggling to make a nest while getting punctured by the nails. The geese were completely covered in blood and could not understand their peril as this had been their nesting area for years.

Idaho Fish and Game was alerted and an officer came out immediately to investigate the nail beds. The officer evidently told the maintenance crew how to remove the eggs that a pair had been actively sitting on, and relocate the eggs to another spot on the Spokane riverfront. (It is our understanding that it is against federal law for anyone to destroy a goose nest that contains one or more eggs without first securing permission through the United States Fish and Wildlife Service. We do not know whether this permission was sought and granted.)

The Idaho Fish and Game officer also advised that if there were more injuries to the geese, the building staff should cover the nail beds with a wire screen, while still leaving the ends of the nails exposed to dissuade the geese. U of I officials did so.

Unfortunately, this might not have been the best advice.  The geese, not following the logic of the human intervention, simply returned to their nesting spot. And even though the screen was in place, the nails continued to injure the geese.

And that’s when KEA started getting calls. And emails. And photos. And more calls. The Coeur d’Alene Audubon Society was concerned along with KEA’s Board members and in-house friends-of-geese who got involved.

After a series of conversations with Idaho Fish and Game, and with an irritated Dr. Charles Buck, Associate Vice President and Chief Executive at U of Idaho’s Coeur d’Alene campus, our own Adrienne Cronebaugh was able to broker a deal to simply remove the bed of nails. Dr. Buck promised KEA that the nails will be removed as soon as a maintenance crew was available on Monday morning.

Geese can be messy and annoying and difficult to deter from congregating and nesting where they want to nest. But there’s no reason to be unnecessarily cruel.