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Environmental Committee talks geese deterrence

By Greg Ellison

(March 24, 2022) Continued efforts to reduce the wild goose population around ponds in Ocean Pines were focused on last week by the Environmental and Natural Assets Committee.

In addition to the plan to post signs that discourage feeding wildlife, other proposals for geese control options were examined during the groups’ meeting last Thursday.

Committee Chair Sharon Santacroce said the association just received new “Keep Wildlife Wild” signs that caution against feeding wild geese and other critters at the South Gate Pond.

“Those are in now,” she said.

The committee also will assist Recreation and Parks Director Debbie Donahue on establishing sites for signs, with subsequent installation by Public Works crews.

The soon-to-be installed placards state, “help conserve wildlife and their natural habitats.”

Going further, the substantial sign explains, “feeding geese, ducks and wild animals can cause the following harmful effects: overcrowding, poor nutrition, spread of disease, unnatural behavior, pollution, delayed migration, safety concerns and dependency on humans.”

Santacroce said although replacements for existing “do not feed” signs are forthcoming, pond frequenters should remain patient.

Image courtesy Debbie Donahue
New signage to deter feeding animals are being installed in coming weeks around the South Gate Pond in Ocean Pines.

“We’re hoping to have up them within the next month,” she said.

In the same vein, committee members also continued work on brewing up a multi-tiered approach to deter waterfowl from congregating around the ponds.

Santacroce said the committee has almost completed a report on geese control methods that have been employed by the association over the past decade.

“We polled present and past [committee] members to pull this document together,” she said.

Santacroce said the finalized report would be delivered to board of directors liaison Doug Parks for distribution to his fellow directors.

With past lessons in mind, committee members also continued work on a board presentation to promote future deterrent efforts.

Santacroce said the main message is that overgrowth around water areas prevents geese from grazing.

“The whole point of this is we’re wanting to plant indigenous vegetation, especially around the South Gate Pond,” she said. “Our logic is it will deter goose gatherings.”

Canada geese, nests and eggs, are protected under federal law by the Migratory Bird Treaty Act, which prohibits capturing or killing except during legal hunting seasons.

Santacroce said the intent would be propagating water-edge indigenous plants that are aesthetically pleasing.

“We want to get master gardeners involved,” she said.

Unaltered views would be another aim, with plants averaging a foot in height being proposed.

Santacroce said a maximum of 12-inches would be sufficient to keep geese off land.

“They are worried about predators and it makes them nervous,” she said. “We don’t need something that’s four-feet tall.”

Although echoing prior approaches, current committee plans would be significantly altered.

“Before I lived here … they allowed vegetation to grow around the pond,” she said. “It was just willy-nilly wild, and people didn’t like the way it looked.”

Santacroce stressed future committee suggestions, while certainly related, would not chart the same course.

“It was unattractive, unkempt natural growth and there was no real thought given to it other than let’s just let it grow,” she said.

The new approach would also seek to maintain land by the water’s edge.

“We have realized there is a little bit of an erosion problem at the South Gate Pond,” she said.

Ideally, Santacroce said future indigenous plantings would include rocks as surface dressing to reduce soil erosion.

“The plan would be three-fold,” she said. “It would look nice, stop the erosion and deter geese.”