Runners, walkers and cyclists making their way around a lake at Freedom Park in Greenwood have had to cut through the grass or tiptoe on the pavement to avoid a messy problem.

Hundreds of geese wade in the pond then waddle across the path in Freedom Park, leaving their messes behind. In the past couple of weeks, the amount of goose droppings on the path has become overwhelming, leading people to avoid the path around the water or go into the grass to avoid stepping in it, residents said.

Last week, Greenwood resident Ruth Everson noticed 75 to 85 geese in Freedom Park, where she typically runs with her husband. Everson dealt with geese on her property for more than 20 years when she lived in Morgan County. She had a small pond, and when geese first arrived, she thought they were cute. But five years later, her yard became overrun with geese and their offspring, so her husband began chasing them off the property during mating season, which helped, she said.

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Greenwood parks employees check daily to see if they need to clean off the paths, director Rob Taggart said.

The parks department also uses multiple solutions to keep the geese away, but the heavy rains this summer impacted some of the methods they usually use, he said.

To keep geese away from the park, employees spray the grass with a formula that makes the birds sick if they eat it, Taggart said. The spray isn’t enough to permanently harm them, but the geese then remember that the grass doesn’t taste good, and they go elsewhere for food, he said.

The spray typically is done once or twice a year, but the city has had to wait to spray this summer because of excessive rain, Taggart said. Workers sprayed the formula on the grass last week, when it was dry for enough days in a row that it could be absorbed and not washed away, he said.

Keeping weeds and grass along the perimeter of the pond taller, around 3 to 4 feet high, also serves as a deterrent for geese, Taggart said. When geese see the taller grass, the consider the lake an unsafe area for them to enter, he said.

But residents also raised concerns about the pond, with algae that has been forming at the surface. The algae forming, combined with the taller weeds, makes it difficult for children to fish at the lake, Greenwood resident Doug Pierce said.

The parks department has a contract with a company to treat the lake once a month, Taggart said. He has received no complaints from residents about the state of the pond.