Maryland hires dogs to keep resident geese goosey

spectr17

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State hires dogs to keep resident geese goosey

The Star Democrat , September 05, 2001



Kemp, a three year old Border collie, patrols Clopper Lake with his owner, David Hadidian, 21, and Ranger JoAnn Berisford, in Seneca Creek State Park, in Gaithersburg last month. The state has hired the non-profit group GeesePeace to chase nuisance geese from swimming and boating areas at three state parks. Before Kemp started working at the park, 200-300 geese were fouling the water, boat dock and picnic areas.


FLINTSTONE (AP) - State park officials have gone to the dogs to combat Canada goose droppings that have fouled lakes and golf courses.

Rented border collies have been patrolling Rocky Gap, Gunpowder Falls and Seneca Creek state parks this summer under a $24,000 contract with GeesePeace, a nonprofit group in Virginia.

It seems to be working.

"There are definitely fewer droppings. The areas are cleaner," said Bob Beckett of the state parks department. "I don't want to say that they're staying away 100 percent of the time, but it's definitely better."

Using dogs to harass resident geese is nothing new, but this marks the first time the Department of Natural Resources has used a four-legged approach to a problem that reached emergency proportions last summer. Two of the three swimming beaches at Rocky Gap State Park in Allegany County were closed due to high levels of fecal coliform bacteria.

At Gunpowder Falls, officials had to close the beach at the Hammerman area in Baltimore County for a month. In Montgomery County, goose droppings from more than 200 birds created a slippery, unhealthy mess on the dock at Clopper Lake at Seneca Creek State Park.

As many as 100,000 Canada geese make Maryland their permanent residence. Fed by crops and handouts, they no longer migrate each year to Canada. In some places, the population increases by as much as 14 percent a year.

Although there's a fall season to hunt resident geese, many of the places they call home are also where humans live and play.

Normally, the state applies to the federal government for permits to round up and euthanize nuisance geese. Last year, six of nine parks with goose problems were given permission to kill the geese.

But the traditional approach was "an unpalatable solution" with suburban nature lovers, said Richard Dolesh, director of DNR's Forest, Wildlife and Heritage Service. He looked for alternatives and found GeesePeace.

"There was skepticism on our part to the program, but to round up and gas geese is a public relations nightmare," he said.

GeesePeace started two years ago in the waterfront community of Lake Barcroft in Virginia's Fairfax County, where resident geese were fouling the five beaches and shoreline.

David Feld, the community association president and founder of GeesePeace, said the debate between hunting and anti-hunting factions divided the community.

"People weren't cooperating on other projects. We finally said, 'We're going to take all lethal options off the table' and we developed a consensus for the program being used now."

Besides using dogs, the organization encourages planting tall grasses at the waterline to discourage geese from coming ashore, and oiling eggs to smother goose embryos.

GeesePeace has expanded to urban and suburban areas in a half-dozen states from North Carolina to Washington.

The state's contract with GeesePeace ends in mid-September. Beckett said state officials will review results before renewing.

"If it proves only marginally successful, we'll go back and regroup," he said. "But if we can minimize the number of newborns and move the adults around as their numbers diminish, then we'll see light at the end of the tunnel."
 

jerry d

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Saw this method used at Willow Park Golf Course in Castro Valley.

The resident canada's were really messing up the fairways and a lady with two Border Collies rode around with the dogs in a golf cart chasing the geese from fairway to fairway.

Fun to watch the dogs "herd" the geese. Kept them moving until they got tired of being harrased and flew off to where ever geese fly off too.
 


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