Mentor practice fields laden with goose droppings

MENTOR, Ohio - Sports teams hitting playing fields in Mentor find themselves fighting over the same turf with some winged visitors – and the visitors are leaving some reminders of their stop.

“Goose poop,” said Matt Sloey.

“A lot of goose poop,” added Nathan Godic.

The members of the seventh and eighth grade Mentor lacrosse teams that use the Mentor Schools field by the high school stadium.

“Like when we’re running around, we try to dodge it,” said Stephen Lewis. His mom asks him a question following practice or games.

“’Did you fall in goose poop?’ and if I did she makes me put it (his clothes) in a bag,” he said.

A parents concern over children playing in the feces-laden field to our NewsChannel5 Solutions Center prompted a visit to the fields Wednesday evening.

"I've been coaching in the Mentor program for nine years and it's probably the best it's ever been," said Cameron Zwagerman with the Mentor Youth Lacrosse Program.

The program attracts players from public and private schools in Mentor and surrounding areas.

He said past years have been much worse.

Not to say the players aren’t treading carefully to the goose-produced minefield, a situation which can have serious health consequences.

“Duck and geese feces, the nice word, have certain bacteria in them, cryptosporidium, salmonella and E.coli,” said Dr. Lolita McDavid of University Hospitals Rainbow Babies & Children’s Hospital.

“When I’m on service here, we have several kids who are in the hospital who are sick enough to be on I-V antibiotics because they have a diarrheal illness and they’ve gotten dehydrated caused by the bacteria these geese and ducks have.”

McDavid said any child who comes in contact with duck or goose droppings should wash their hands and clothes afterward and keep their hands away from their mouth.

Other teams use the fields for practice sessions and games.

Mentor Schools in an emailed statement said,

“Parents of student-athletes have not notified Mentor High School about their concerns regarding the field and their children’s health. We have not had any reports of students being sick. Northeast Ohio has a large geese population, and while we have tried to deter them from feeding on our field, they always come back. As they are considered a protected wildlife, it is difficult to remove them. Some of the methods we’ve tried include dogs, a look-a-like fake coyote, call noises over the speaker system and deterrent sprayed on the grass. We are in compliance with the Lake County Health Department in regard to our soccer/lacrosse field. Our grass field is likely no different than others across Northeast Ohio.”

Zwagerman said if players are getting sick from the feces on the field he would look into alternative practice facilities.

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