By Joselyn Watkins
Little do we realize or appreciate the many services performed by people working behind the scenes on our behalf. One such group goes by the name of Parks & Recreation and is a viable and much needed group in Lake Lure implementing the Canada Geese Management Program.
During the first half of the 1900s, Canada Geese were trapped and used as live decoys primarily for the sport of hunting. Through this process, capture and maiming left the geese flightless. Their offspring were born here in the United States and consequently did not have their built in need to migrate to Canada to breed. Soon, extinction of these wonderful birds was a very real possibility. So in the 1960’s, in response to this threat, “the US Fish and Wildlife Service and many State wildlife agencies began a program of repopulation of wild Canada geese.” (For more information on the repopulation program go to www.geesepeace.org.) The result of this repopulation was over population of Canada geese who, because of manipulation with their natural cycle did not migrate normally.
In some areas with many ponds and grass lands in sparsely human populated areas, over population of geese does not present a problem. However, overpopulation of geese in suburban areas, cities or for that matter beautiful resort areas such as Lake Lure is a threat to its human population. Studies show that without management of the Canada geese they have the possibility of doubling their numbers within a five year period. This being said, can you imagine if the geese were not managed what we would be breathing in, walking in and swimming in without escape from the effects of said geese droppings. Needless to say, the amount of excrement that the geese produce can have a detrimental effect on humans when we are simply walking, playing and swimming.
Fortunately, about seven years ago Larry Czajkoski, a member of the Parks and Recreation Board, researched this problem and found out about GeesePeace. He arranged for David Feld National Director of GeesePeace to come to Lake Lure to educate the Town’s Parks & Recreation Board of measures that could be taken to stem this problem. David also was able to train local volunteers in accomplishing the task. Then, with that knowledge, the Town of Lake Lure Parks & Recreation Board and Lake Advisory Board with Town Council approval recommended and adopted a community wide humane program summarized below to manage the resident Canada Geese population and reduce the negative impact on the local community. Notably, National wildlife protection and humane groups have sanctioned the GeesePeace Program. Those organizations are: The Humane Society of the United States, Fund for Animals, PETA, as well as the Doris Day Animal League. This answers the questions for those who wonder if this is a humane approach to solving the overpopulation of the geese.
The benefits of implementing the Canada Geese Management Program supported by the above mentioned Lake Lure City Boards and outlined per the GeesePeace protocol are:
Improved Lake Water Quality
Improved Aesthetics for Beach, Park Areas and Golf Courses
Improved Balance of Waterfowl
Improved Community and Sense of Civic Pride Through Innovative Cooperative
Budgetary concerns were not a problem with instituting the program as volunteers staff the program under the direction of the Parks & Recreation board.
So, if you observe a group of individuals in April, say three in a boat approaching the shore and raising an umbrella, do not be surprised. First of all, this group has gone out into the lake looking for nests of geese. Many times while cruising the shoreline a gander will alert them to where the goose is nesting as this location might be quite hidden. The papa goose is the appointed sentry and his singular presence is a good indication there is a nest nearby.
Once at the nest a volunteer will follow the GeesePeace protocol requiring the eggs be found and oiled in the pre-stages of the development cycle. The egg can then be oiled, rendering it inactive, marked and returned to the nest for the rest of the nesting season after which no goslings appear and papa goose will be blamed. Ironically, if the volunteers just took the eggs from the nest mama goose would assume that she had not done her job and resume laying more eggs. Strategic nest destroying takes place, but this has a wait period of two weeks following the end of nesting season. The reason is that mama goose would just start building another nest and start over. How interesting this Mother Nature.
Through this method of oiling or addling eggs, recent calculations have found that over the past seven years 450 eggs have been oiled by the Lake Lure GeesePeace team. Good work GeesePeace Volunteers. Some of the more faithful volunteers are: Larry Czajkoski, Ed Dittmer, and Chuck Watkins. Others assisting in oiling at times have been Clint Calhoun, Arvid Hansen, Melodie Potter, Linda Turner and Diane Barrett.
In the words of Larry Czajkoski, “this effort has drastically reduced the potential resident Canada Geese population and has made a considerable contribution to managing the population of resident Canada Geese here in Lake Lure.“ In addition, Larry adds, “The effort is by no means complete and the Parks & Recreation Board plans to continue this effort for as long as needed in order to even better manage the resident Canada Geese population. The effort will continue to benefit the town, its residents and business owners from an economical, outdoor activity, tourist satisfaction, water quality and waterfowl balance perspective.”
But, all city programs can use volunteers and so you can help the Parks & Recreation GeesePeace team by contacting Clint Calhoun at 625-9983.
Also, being a good volunteer may be by being vigilant and not letting others feed even the darling little goslings. Did you know that you can harm those goslings? Yes, you can harm them by feeding them as they might develop “angel wing” “which is a deformity of the wing caused by rapid growth of feathers as a result of a high protein diet (bread, corn). Feeding geese also causes the geese to congregate in the feeding area increasing the nuisance level in that area and causes geese to become aggressive as they fight over food. And as mandated by the City of Lake Lure any geese feeding is forbidden.
Remember, being a volunteer and working behind the scenes has the benefit of “good feelings” and “walking straight”. You might not be noticed in your effort, but let someone else honk your horn for you.