190 geese at local cemetery removed, euthanized

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NICHOLASVILLE, Ky. (WTVQ) – The population of Canada Geese at one Jessamine County cemetery is significantly smaller than it was about a month ago. But, the question some people are asking, is where did they go?

The manager of Blue Grass Memorial Gardens in Nicholasville says the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) took 190 geese from the cemetery on June 24.

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On the phone last week, the cemetery’s general manager Shannon Speicher told ABC 36 the geese were causing problems. She said they were eating grass seed the cemetery put on the graves, dropping feathers everywhere, and making it nearly impossible to walk through the cemetery without stepping in their feces.

Monday, the cemetery released the following statement, in regards to the removal of the geese.

“Blue Grass Memorial Gardens is committed to providing our client families with a peaceful environment for visitation and remembrance. In recent years, we’ve received many complaints from client families about the large and growing population of geese attracted to and residing on the property. The geese have caused severe damage to the cemetery grounds and, on several occasions, have attacked client families. The safety and security of those visiting Blue Grass Memorial Gardens is our top concern. After exhausting all recommended geese population management tactics including loud noises and flashing lights, we consulted with the U.S. Department of Agriculture and the agency has removed the geese from the property. We are now in the process of repairing the damage to the grounds caused by the geese at Blue Grass Memorial Gardens. We value the relationships we have with our client families and encourage anyone with concerns to contact us directly.”

The question now is, what happened to the geese once the USDA removed them from the cemetery grounds?

The USDA tells ABC 36 the geese were “humanely collected and euthanized.”

Rhonda Dean says she’s been caring for the geese over the last 12 years, paying out of pocket to help them if they were sick or injured.

Dean says when she saw the geese were gone, she was heartbroken. She put a plaque on one of the cemetery’s trees, in memory of the geese, some of which she had named.

Dean tells ABC 36 she understands if the geese were causing problems and needed to be removed, but wishes the cemetery had chosen a different way.

“Relocate them to safe land somewhere,” said Dean. “They could have taken them to Ballard Wildlife Refuge. There are so many other places, if they had just put in a little effort, they would have taken them.”

Dean says now she is just thankful for the time she was able to spend with what she says is a beautiful, smart species.

“They’re more intelligent than a crow or a macaw, and I was blessed to have a window into their world within our world,” said Dean. “They were my teachers and I learned volumes about them.”

The U.S. Department of Fish and Wildlife told me Canada Geese are federally protected, but the USDA has a permit to take geese whenever they need to throughout the year, without telling wildlife services.

Therefore, the way the cemetery handled the issue is legal.

Blue Grass Memorial Gardens ask that anyone with concern, contact the cemetery directly.