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What's going on here? Coyote decoys guarding Traxler Park

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Gina Duwe
April 15, 2013

What are they? Residents driving by or enjoying Traxler Park recently likely noticed wooden cutouts of coyotes propped up around the park.

The eight cutouts are painted white with gray accents to look three-dimensional. Four are placed at the end of the lagoon on the manmade ice rink area while four will occupy the Veterans Plaza. The city had to temporarily remove the four at the north end because of flooding from the Rock River, while wind and wet ground have been knocking over the remaining ones.

Why? The project is the creation of Ray Ehle of Janesville, who has watched people avoid goose droppings during special events in the park. He is a member of the local Veterans of Foreign Wars honor guard and is present at special events at Veterans Plaza.

He read how coyote cutouts have proven successful in keeping away nuisance geese in some communities because coyotes are natural predators of geese.

He decided to cut and paint eight of them to place in the park, in cooperation with the city.

In theory, geese will see the coyote cutouts from the air, be frightened and gather somewhere else.

“Geese are lovely in the water, but when they use our parks as toilets, it is not good,” he told The Gazette in January when he was building the cutouts. “We're taking the nonviolent or Gandhi approach.”

Ehle placed black and white plastic bags in the coyotes' mouths to simulate dead geese, “which heightens their threat level,” he said.

He also volunteered to move the eight coyotes around the park once a week or so to be most effective at scaring geese.

Are they working? It's too soon to tell, but the geese have been pretty active in the sky.

“They're flying around,” he said. “The grass isn't growing sufficiently enough … to attract to it.”

If the cutouts are successful, Ehle said he's been thinking about how to get help to create dozens more for other parks—something out of his project scope.

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