All Domestic Waterfowl in Woodland Park Rehomed

Local groups and community members join forces to adopt nonnative waterfowl

By Maggie Dresser
Geese and ducks in Woodland Park in Kalispell. Hunter D’Antuono | Flathead Beacon

In a community-wide effort to rehome the invasive domestic waterfowl in Kalispell’s Woodland Park, more than 100 birds were captured and adopted over the weekend of Feb. 22.

Following city council discussions involving the potential euthanization of the nonnative waterfowl, which have created a variety of issues in the park including pond health, feces accumulation and safety hazards, the community joined together to rehome more than 100 geese and ducks.

In just two days, the Northwest Montana Humane Society and Montana Wild Wings Recovery successfully created a penned area with fencing where the geese and ducks were herded, Kalispell Parks and Recreation Director Chad Fincher said.

“It was a controlled environment,” Fincher said. “It went really well and we had some local experts there to handle it. It wasn’t chaotic and it was a cool, calm way to adopt them out.”

After multiple walk-throughs in the park, Kalispell Parks and Recreation and the Humane Society have determined that all the domestic birds are gone and only native waterfowl including Canada geese and mallard ducks remain, Fincher said.

Fincher says the city had been discussing ways to improve the park and revitalize the pond for two years and the waterfowl adoption created a fast and cost effective solution to relocate the invasive birds. While the method isn’t a typical city solution, Fincher says the community helped accelerate the process.

“We didn’t have any labor costs,” Fincher said. “We had one of our field staff to make sure everything was going smoothly but we didn’t have to stop anything and it’s a win-win for the community. The city invested really no time or money into the effort and the community was able to step up and be able to rehome them in a quick fashion.”

While the park is currently vacant of domestic birds, Fincher expects some community members to potentially return adopted waterfowl while continuing the post-Easter tradition of dumping unwanted chickens and other domestic animals in the park. Fincher says he’s even seen Muscovy ducks in the park, which are native to Mexico and Central and South America.

In anticipation of this, Fincher has a list of people who are willing to re-adopt and find new homes for future waterfowl in order to address the issue immediately.

“Hopefully the community understands we shouldn’t be doing this,” Fincher said.

Now that the nonnative birds have been relocated, Fincher says the city will meet with Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks at a city council meeting next month to discuss the next steps in revitalizing the Woodland Park pond.

Topics will include managing reintroduced animals, public feeding in the park and deepening the pond to possibly create a Hooked on Fishing program, which provides fishing education for local students.

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