By Greg Ellison
(Nov. 26, 2020) The Ocean Pines Environmental and Natural Assets Committee on Wednesday discussed revamped efforts to address the impact geese and other waterfowl have on area ponds, including the new water testing program.
Committee Chairman Ken Wolf said the group was updated on Nov. 18 about recent bacterial levels tests performed at two smaller ponds in the north and the larger South Gate Pond.
“A test was done and we’re awaiting the results,” he said.
Wolf said additional water samples would be taken this winter.
“It’s going to be tested several times based on the geese population, native and resident, and when they’re there in force,” he said.
The committee is looking to ascertain any water quality impacts from geese and other flocks of birds that congregate around the Pines’ ponds.
The testing is being conducted through a partnership with the Maryland Coastal Bays Program, whose assistance was sought by Environmental Committee board liaison Tom Janasek.
Testing includes quantitative polymerase chain reaction (PCR) and Next Generation Sequencing to identify environmental DNA.
Wolf said despite lack of community support for earlier attempts to address the large goose population around the ponds, the committee is continuing the discussion in the hopes of discovering a permanent solution.
“We plan on really looking at this geese thing again from every opportunity and from every angle,” he said.
The water tests should help committee members understand if wildlife is the water pollution problem many people assume it is.
“Maybe it’s not too bad [and] we’ll see by these tests,” he said. “There is water access, so pollution in that pond, whatever’s there, will work its way down to Manklin Creek.”
The committee also talked about proposed signs that would warn the public of the dangers of feeding wildlife.
Wolf said committee member Sharon Santacroce is compiling an article on the topic for the “Green Street” page in an upcoming Ocean Pines quarterly newsletter.
“You’re not doing them any favors,” he said.
Wolf said the article would educate the community to multiple issues that make hand feeding feathered fowl detrimental.
“We wanted to put something in along those lines to coordinate with these new geese signs,” he said.
Wolf said although the suggestion was not favorably received three years ago, the committee also vetted the concept of employing natural growth to deter birds from the ponds.
“The number one way that you stop resident geese from prospering … is if you grow grass and bushes,” he said. “Then they can’t have unfettered access to the land.”
Left unchecked, Wolf said the concern is the flock would become larger, with a corresponding increase in fecal matter around the water bodies.
“It’s going to be a nuisance and an impediment to walking in that park,” he said. “On top of that, you’ve got the potential for disease in the water impacting so many things.”
Committee members are working to avoid another instance of geese being euthanized to reduce numbers.
“You’re going to have an ongoing problem where the day is going to come where the question of euthanizing the geese is going to be there because there will be so many of them,” he said.
Wolf said the committee is striving to make the board aware problems are in store if the issue is not addressed.
“The day is coming for a real showdown and maybe this needs to go at some point to a referendum,” he said. “We don’t want to kill the geese, but we’re duty bound to control them.”