They've tried everything.

To scare away the 200 to 300 geese that have made Briarwood Golf Club their longtime habitat, the grounds crew of the West Manchester Township greens are now using plastic statues of coyotes to intimidate the waterfowl.

"It doesn't seem to be working," said Brad Shaffer, superintendent of grounds for Briarwood.

The geese seem completely unfazed as they rest next to the statues, he said.

The four ponds, creek and well-manicured greens have created an attractive home for what Shaffer said has become a "resident flock problem."

"They never leave," he said. "If the ponds are frozen, they'll fly to a quarry or river and then come right back."

A Canada goose examines a coyote dummy at Briarwood Golf Clubs ponds. The golf courses management hoped the geese would be scared off the golf course by
A Canada goose examines a coyote dummy at Briarwood Golf Clubs ponds. The golf courses management hoped the geese would be scared off the golf course by the dummies, but they remain unfazed. (Bil Bowden photo)

Nuisance for golfers: For golfers who play at the 36-hole course, the geese can be a real nuisance.

"The geese crap all over the place and chew up the greens, and they can interfere with the game," said Kirk Manges, Briarwood golf pro.

Golfers often have to walk through goose feces and wipe it off their golf balls during games, he said.

"When you have 30 to 40 geese on a fairway, that's a lot to step through," Shaffer said.

Some golfers have been attacked by the birds if they've picked up a ball that rolled by the water where many geese nest, he said.

"They will attach their web feet and flap their wings in your face," Shaffer said.

But the injuries to golfers, if any, have been minimal.

"Other than a guy getting scratched, I think they've only had injured pride for getting bested by a goose," he said.

The real injuries are to the greens, Shaffer said.

In the next two to three weeks, goslings will start to hatch.

"They're cute as a baby duck for a while, but when they're about 8 weeks old they start looking ugly," he said.

At that same 8-week mark -- which is during the course's busy season in late June and early July -- the goslings will go through a molting stage and dig, creating up to seven extra holes on the putting greens, Shaffer said.

"When 15 or 20 (geese) are out there at the same time and rip everything out, they can make the greens look like a war zone," he said.

It's even worse after a heavy rain and is a pain to fix, Shaffer said.

Groundskeepers have to use the course's three putting greens as a nursery so they can repair damage on the two courses.

But golfers haven't been deterred from playing their rounds at Briarwood, Shaffer said.

"They take it in stride," he said.

Briarwood not alone: Briarwood isn't the only local course with a population of geese. The waterfowl can also be found at Heritage Hills, Honey Run Golf Club and Grand View Golf Club, according to golf pros at those locations.

"We're actually pretty lucky. We only have a few (geese) this year," said Derek Barton, director of golf at Grand View.

The Dover Township course has one small pond and a creek, which typically attract more ducks than geese, he said.

"It's not a big issue here for us, but I've had to deal with it as a golfer at other places. When you have geese eating grass off the tee box, or you have to walk through poop or clean it off your ball, it can be annoying," Barton said.

Hunting allowed: To get rid of the geese at Briarwood, groundskeepers allow hunting when the birds are in season.

Geese are in season Sept. 1 through 25 throughout Pennsylvania, and hunters may kill eight geese per day.

Hunting is also allowed during specific times in specific places from late October through February. North of Route 30 in York County, five geese per day may be killed from Oct. 27 through Nov. 24, Dec. 11 through Jan. 15, and Feb. 1 through 28, according to the Pennsylvania Game Commission.

"It's the non-migratory birds that cause all the problems," said John Dunn, chief of game management for the commission.

The most effective way to deal with the problem is with nest and egg control, he said.

Residents can register online at the game commission's website, www.pgc.state.pa.us, from Jan. 1 through June 30 to receive a permit that will allow them to destroy eggs with mineral oil, which will keep embryos from growing, Dunn said.

"The permit allows you to control nesting geese during that time period," he said.

Another option is to contact the U.S. Department of Agriculture's Wildlife Services Division at (866) 487-3297.

The agency will remove and euthanize geese, Dunn said.

"Resident geese are a pretty widespread problem, especially in southeastern Pennsylvania," he said.

-- Candy Woodall can also be reached at cwoodall@yorkdispatch.com.