How the tragic plight of Gordon the Goose might make you think twice about feeding bread to waterfowl at Stevenage’s parks and lakes

Stevenage school children pictured with the newly released Gordon the Goose book

Stevenage school children pictured with the newly released Gordon the Goose book - Credit: Archant

Did you know that feeding bread to ducks and geese can cause them to become aggressive, poo more on paths and get diseases which prevent them from flying

Geese can become aggressive if fed too much bread

Geese can become aggressive if fed too much bread - Credit: Archant

If you didn’t, you might want to heed the tragic plight of Gordon the Goose, an overfed waterfowl who features in a new book written by Stevenage Borough Council.

The unfortunate Gordon is the star of the book which aims to teach children and adults fun ways to help care for ducks and geese at the town’s parks and gardens.

In the st-honking tale, poor Gordon is overfed on bread by kindly park visitors and becomes so ill he can no longer fly. The short story book is part of a myth-busting campaign to explain that bread is junk food for birds, who prefer a diet of vegetables and seeds.

SBC says feeding them too much can cause a disease called Angel Wing, which ultimately prevents them from flying. It also causes anti-social problems by making geese more aggressive, and increasing the amounts of bird poo on paths, which can become slippery and smelly.

Geese pictured at Fairlands Valley Park in Stevenage.

Geese pictured at Fairlands Valley Park in Stevenage. - Credit: Archant

When feeding, geese poo more – up to once every eight minutes in fact – and with 200 wildfowl in the town this soon causes problems.

SBC adds that discarded food can also attract rats and pigeons.

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Councillor John Gardner, who looks after environmental issues for the council, said: “Our geese don’t go hungry and while it’s fun to feed them people shouldn’t go overboard. This book is a marvellous way to get children and adults talking about the problems that can bring, and what we could do differently to keep our ducks and geese healthy and our parks clean for everyone to enjoy.

“I understand daily droppings from the 200 geese we have weighs the same as a baby elephant, which takes a lot of clearing up! So anything we can do to reduce that will help.”

There are notices at the park advising well-meaning visitors to offer healthy alternatives to ducks and geese, there have also been posters doing the rounds on social media throughout the summer.

One Stevenage resident told the Comet: “I took a selection of healthy goodies to the lake, including oats, seeds, peas and corn.

“But the ducks and geese didn’t seem to want it, they must’ve wanted bread more.”

The Gordon the Goose book has been written by the council’s green spaces development officer, Joel Gainsford, with drawings by freelance illustrator Katie Duffett.

Schools or other interested groups and individuals can get a copy from the café in Fairlands Valley Park or online at stevenage.gov.uk/parks-and-open-spaces.

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