A memorial service is planned to mourn the 109 Canada geese euthanized to keep the birds from overrunning parks in an Oregon city.
The service will take place Thursday evening at the Galveston Bridge in Bend's Drake Park. An invitation to the event says those in attendance can offer prayers, play music or participate in moments of silence for the geese.
"I think a memorial like this will help people console each other," Bend resident Foster Fell told the Bend Bulletin newspaper. "I, myself, in the last few days have been nursing a tear in my eye and a lump in my throat."
The Bulletin reported that the birds were put in garbage-can-sized containers last week and gassed with carbon dioxide. The U.S. Department of Agriculture and the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife approved that approach after local park officials spent months trying unsuccessfully to reduce the local goose population in other ways. Those methods included chasing the geese with dogs, shooting at them with paintball guns and putting oil on goose eggs to prevent them from hatching.
The biggest problem being caused by the geese: An unsightly mess of droppings left all over the grass in Bend parks. Officials said the city had to spend $22,000 cleaning up after the geese in 2009.
"I understand that Park & Recreation thought there were too many geese, but I'm struck that the crimes of the geese that got them executed was basically defecating on the grass at Drake Park," local writer Mary Sojourner told the Bulletin.
Bend Park & Recreation District Board Chairman Scott Wallace said it is unfortunate the parks can't support all the geese and acknowledged that killing the geese was controversial.
"While it wasn't put out on the ballot to who wants to vote for and against this plan, we heard loud and clear from the majority of people who gave input that we needed to do something," he told the Bulletin. "Clearly, there's people that are passionate on both sides of it. It's, again, unfortunate, but we haven't done this in a vacuum."
This story contains information from The Associated Press.