SEATTLE – Loud bangs that sound like gunshots caused a minor panic near the University of Washington Friday morning. It turned out to be pyrotechnics used to scare away Canada geese.
At about 10 a.m., a professor became alarmed at what sounded like gunfire and called police. Officers stopped traffic on Mary Gates Way and kept some students in their classrooms while they investigated.
"We responded, set up an area of containment under the auspices that there were shots fired," said UW Police Cmdr. Jerome Solomon.
The shots were reported near the Urban Horticulture Center. Neighbors heard it, too.
"I heard some big geese and then I heard gun shots. My first thought was 'Uh oh. Someone's shooting the geese they don't like and they're not supposed to,'" said neighbor Kim Groff-Harrington.
She was right. Police made contact with a U.S. Department of Agriculture agent in the area. The feds were using starter pistols – pyrotechnics to scare away the geese at the request of a homeowner near the campus.
It was a case of the right hand not knowing what the left hand was doing. The wildlife agent had called the Seattle Police Department to warn of the geese control, but he didn't contact University Police.
"The information we got initially was shots fired. We weren't aware of any testing in the area as it relates to geese or to the animals," said Solomon.
The homeowner will pay the Department of Agriculture $40 an hour for the agent to get rid of the geese. In the end, no one was injured, not even a goose.