WOODS ‘N’ WATER: Stop the feeding, solve the problem

WOODS ‘N’ WATER: Stop the feeding, solve the problem

Record-Journal

“We give the towns suggestions and means to help them solve their Canada geese problems and they choose to ignore them!” That’s what I hear from some DEEP personnel. 

The state can give permission for certain techniques to be used to allay the problem of nuisance Canada geese, but it is up to the towns to enforce these options, including the feeding of wildlife and hunting on area reservoirs when the geese overrun them.

Do you know that one Canada goose can poop one-quart of feces a day, and if these geese are on your reservoir, does your water taste a bit different lately?

And when the geese start leaving poop on sidewalks and roadways, the situation becomes even worse because many times even the handicapped are forced to walk through it.

I was at a wildlife sanctuary up in New York and could not believe what the Canada geese had done to the walkways. It was disgusting, at best. The geese had just about littered all of the concrete walkway into the main building. The smell and the mess itself was deplorable. It made one just want to turn away and leave the place.

The only place worse is our own Hubbard Park right here in Meriden.

On top of that, geese can get very demanding and ornery when it comes to begging for food. I have seen them violently snatch bread out of the hands of some feeders. Who will pay the bill when someday a child or adult loses an eye to one of the geese?

There are solutions. Some of them are not cheap, other than allowing them to be hunted in areas open enough for hunting. Everyone loses when hunting the Canada geese is not allowed.

Here in Meriden we cannot simply sit back and wait for the state to solve our Canada goose problems. In a survey of the towns in Connecticut, a total of 32 towns reported that feeding of geese occurred on municipal properties. Despite over a decade of educational materials and discussions geared at discouraging this type of behavior, only six of these towns had ordinances specifically against feeding waterfowl on their properties (like Hubbard Park).

Further, one town never enforced the ordinance, four towns rarely enforce the ordinance and one town moderately enforces the ordinance.

The DEEP asked towns whether they were aware of PA 03-192, which allowed for roundups of nuisance geese IF a Goose Management Plan is developed. Only 20 towns (16 percent) had heard of this legislation.

A total of 32 towns had requests from citizens for lethal removal of geese. Of these 32 towns, only nine had prior knowledge of PA 03-192. A total of 78 towns requested more information on PA 03-192.

The state has found that the biggest barrier to implementing controversial or potentially controversial management actions is how much public opinion dictates policy. On a scale of 1 to 5 — one meaning not at all and five meaning quite a bit — public opinion dictates policy decisions with a mean of 3.82. This does not bode well for towns conducting roundups. This has been demonstrated in recent years, with towns moving forward with management plans, but not implementing them due to public outcry.

According to the DEEP Wildlife Division, long-term abatement of nuisance geese requires implementation of a number of different strategies. There is no “silver bullet” or panacea that can be employed. Each situation is different and requires different strategies.

When planning a management strategy, there are several important considerations that need to be evaluated: problem locations; times of the year when problems occur; available control options given the characteristics of the areas involved; effectiveness and acceptability of the techniques; cost and community support for taking action.

Methods for the alleviation of goose problems can be broken down into non-lethal categories. Believe it or not, one of the easiest and most effective non-lethal methods is a simple one: Prohibit the feeding of geese.

Put up signs and enforce the rule. All of the laws in the world are worthless if they are not enforced. Feeding only attracts birds to an area and keeps them there. Feeding also conditions the birds to lose their fear of humans. Simply discontinuing feeding the nuisance Canada geese can go a long way in ending goose habituation to an area.

Feeding geese at Hubbard Park encourages them to stay at Hubbard Park. They will also adapt to grassy areas, like the lawn in front of the bandstand. We water and mow the area to make it nice for the public and then have hundreds of geese ripping out the grass for feed and leaving their calling card for everyone to sit on during the summer concerts.

Enough is enough. The feeding of Canada geese in the city of Meriden has gotten out of control.

Once again, I ask our City Councilors to right a very wrongful situation. The geese have taken over and ruined the jewel of Meriden’s park system, as well as many of the athletic fields that kids play on. I am amazed that kids are even allowed to play on fields contaminated with goose poop. Walk around Mirror Lake, but be careful where you walk. You will know what I am talking about.

Make the feeding of wild critters like the Canada goose illegal in the City of Meriden and post signs in troubled areas like Hubbard Park, Beaver Pond, Habershon Field and Baldwin Pond and then ENFORCE the regulation. As for the athletic fields, those in charge of them should be allowed to haze them to keep them off.

Fishing report

Took a ride last week and noticed that Hamburg Cove was already free of ice, but I did not see any fishermen trying to catch some of the perch that appear this time of the year.

The ice was also rapidly disappearing from both Black Pond and Silver Lake. And if the water opens up, you can fish Black Pond until the end of February. Silver Lake you can fish year round (no trout stocking).

And believe it or not, you can fish Hanover Pond year round from below Red Bridge to above Hanover Dam. However, any trout caught have to be turned back unharmed into the water until the second Saturday in April, when the trout season opens.

You can also fish Mirror Lake year round when the ice is gone, but the trout have to be returned unharmed to the water until trout season opens.

Local fisherman Kyle Cooney gave the ice fishing one more try last week before the warm weather and rain set in.

Kyle said, “My son Braydon and I went to Highland Lake on Super Bowl Sunday and got two nice brown trout on minnows. On my next outing, we went to Lower and Upper Moodus and could not get on the ice on either side because of the open water. I then went down the road to Bashan Lake and was surprised by open water at the boat launch, but did find some safe ice (7-inches) to get us out for some fishing. We went through three dozen minnows and caught one nice bass, a dozen perch and a dozen pickerel. All of the pickerel were 20 inches to 24 inches.”

In our conversation the Canada goose problem came up and Cooney, a former baseball player, said, “I won’t go to Hubbard Park and walk on any of the grass along the pond because of the goose grease. It’s unbearable seeing what they have done to the lawns there with their poop and eating grass down to the roots. I couldn’t imagine going there and trying to find a spot the lawn to enjoy the park.

”We are also going through that right now in Southington on all the grassy playing fields in town. Goose poop is everywhere and it is pretty bad when your kid has to try and avoid stepping or sitting in it when they play sports, and no one does anything to get the geese out of there.”

The time has come for the geese to go! If nothing is done they will only increase.

First things first! Make it an offense to feed the geese everywhere in Meriden! Put up signs saying so and enforce it. Need a volunteer, call me.

See ya’ and God Bless America and watch over our troops wherever they may be.


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