‘Geese Depredation — Not Emotionally, Physically or Financially Easy’
A recent Lake Committee article covered the status of the E.coli situation and our ongoing cooperation with the County on solutions. Our study work has clearly identified the resident geese as vectoring the E.coli 0157:H7 into our beach areas. There is no more speculation regarding their role.
The County agrees but has pointed out the geese have not been confirmed as the only source or the original source to our Commodore Beach health incident.
The article also mentions that we secured a Federal depredation permit to reduce the population of resident geese. This permit is very clear on how this depredation must be done. It also directs that we must continue to actively pursue non-lethal methods of keeping the migratory geese from loving Wildwood too much and staying here.
This report is intended to take the Membership one step deeper into the realities of depredation. This depredation effort is not emotionally, physically or financially easy. The Association needs your support, or at least your understanding, as we continue through the process.
Under the permit we can trap the geese and have them euthanized with a lethal gas. We have tried this approach last year and it was a major undertaking involving a licensed exterminator and many volunteers. It was a frustrating and expensive venture.
Based on help from Federal resources, we purchased an air rifle they recommended. It is quiet but we have found that humanely taking geese in this way is difficult and very time consuming.
The federal permit also allows the use of shotguns with nontoxic shot. Over the past few weeks we have tried shotguns and it is certainly effective and more humane but very loud for residents along the Lake.
The volunteers have developed a process to ensure we are going about our task safely. No one fires a shot until the team agrees it is completely safe.
Security is notified when depredation is underway. Public Works is disposing of the birds per the requirements of the Federal permit. We are keeping detailed records and results are reported to the Federal government.
The County is aware of the permit and our actions. Limiting the goose population is tied to our water testing program and all results are being shared with the County.
We are nearing the limit of the existing permit (75 geese) and we have applied for another permit for this year. The Federal office has been very delayed in approving the request. They said they are overwhelmed with similar situations.
The advances in testing technology and analytical studies like the one done here in Wildwood seem to be helping communities understand the realities of geese residing in populated environments.
Let us put a positive spin on this uncomfortable tale. We have been collecting statistics on the geese for many seasons and we believe the depredation effort so far has lowered the resident flock this year to a much greater extent than the birds that have been taken through depredation.
Last year at this time we were reporting about 125 geese on the Lake. At last count we noted a total flock of about 35 birds. We think they are intelligent birds and some of the smarter ones have decided that Wildwood is not as great as they thought and moved on. The number of nesting birds and eggs were way down this season.
Reducing the flock is essential to tracking the expected reduction in E.coli observations from our testing program. We will use the most effective, humane and safe way to reduce the flock to the agreed level.
The Board and our volunteers take no joy from this undertaking. However, when you weigh the physical health of our Members and guests, as well as the economic impact from this E.coli outbreak, the effort has tremendous value.
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