'Everyone said go check out Barton Springs. It’s a beautiful local swimming pool, and it’s a fixture of this area. So I decided to go,” Francis Ellis said.
Ellis expected a fun-filled day in the sun at the historic swimming pool, considered to be the jewel of the city of Austin, Texas. What he hadn’t counted on was bearing witness to dozens of goose attacks as pairs of the birds attempted to claim the pool for themselves.
“The geese started attacking people left and right,' Ellis said. 'I asked the lifeguard at Barton Springs why don’t they take care of this problem. He said because this is federally protected land, we are not allowed to do anything to the geese.”
The Barton Springs swimming pool draws more than 800,000 visitors a year. Fed by four bubbling springs, the pool is a natural wonder that stays a brisk 68-70° year-round. It’s also home to the endangered Barton Springs salamander, which can’t be found anywhere else on earth, as well as the Austin Blind salamander. And because of the presence of these endangered species, pool operators and lifeguards have their hands tied when it comes to the geese.
Alex Slivinske, a city lifeguard, said that these particular geese are new and have staked out the pool as part of their territory.
'Technically once they show up here, because the pools are a federal habitat, humans are only allowed to come in because we have an agreement with the federal government. As long as they are not harmed, we can swim here,' said Slivinske.
He said he has noticed that the geese will follow and target some people if the people don’t act aggressive enough.
Witnesses say the geese are extremely aggressive. They say the geese jump on people and attempt to drown them with their bodies. If the geese show up while you are swimming, their advice is to get out.
One man, who wanted to remain anonymous, said a goose attempted to drown him while he was swimming. When it became clear that the goose wasn’t going to let him swim in peace, he grabbed it by the neck and held it under the water while bystanders looked on aghast at his apparent animal abuse.
Slivinski wants to remind people that Barton Springs is a natural habitat and that people should expect these things to happen from time to time.
Ellis caught some of the attacks on his phone camera, and he posted them online.
“These geese were not silly at all. They have a mission, and they were evil,' Ellis said.
“The geese are attacking the swimmers!”
Ellis said. Image credit Francis Ellis