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Euthanasia not part of discussion to control geese

OCEAN PINES– Contrary to popular belief, euthanasia has not been discussed as a means to control the growing resident Canadian goose population.
A flurry of letters to the editor and Facebook posts began pouring in following suggestions by the Environment and Natural Assets committee to eliminate the geese from the area near the South Gate pond.
In February the issue was raised at a Board of Directors meeting and a 17-page document titled “Non-Migratory Geese” was posted on the Ocean Pines website. The document listed “lethal control” as the last method to curb the unwelcome goose populations.
Tom Terry, president of the Ocean Pines Association board of directors, insisted that method was never discussed by Ocean Pines officials.
The problem, he said, deals with “Canadian geese who are supposed to be migrating – and they are not migrating.”
“Many, many of them have been born here and they believe this is home, so they don’t migrate the way they are supposed to,” he said. “That’s where the overpopulation is coming from; they think this is home, so they don’t actually migrate. We’re looking at nothing but nonlethal issues to try to get them to relocate.”
According to the initial ENA report, released in December, Goose excrement can cause pollution in waterways and grass lands leading to a number of problems from increased algae growth and decreased fish populations to disease in humans.
Methods of removing the geese that have been discussed include the use of dogs, plastic dog decoys, loud noises, high-pitched sounds and flashing lights.
“There are all kinds of options out there that people have tried and used and that have worked, at least temporarily, to get the geese to move on,” Terry said. “We want them to relocate and be able to migrate the way they are supposed to.”
Terry said the December report sparked the initial debate – and is the source of the public’s confusion surrounding the board’s intentions on the issue.
“One of the options that was presented by the environmental committee was, lacking the ability of getting them to move for some other reason, that (euthanasia) might be something we would have to do,” he said. “We’re not doing that; we have not looked seriously at killing the geese since the day this started. We have all been for nonlethal issues, but unfortunately it just keeps coming back up as if we’re going to kill the geese when there’s never been a motion in front of the board of directors to do anything like that. The only thing that we’re looking at is nonlethal methods to get the geese to move on and to migrate the way they are supposed to.”
Spring is generally “nesting” season for geese, meaning Ocean Pines could see another population explosion this summer.
“We’re about to see a whole other round of little geese being born here, and they will think this is home,” said Terry.
The Department of Natural Resources and other state and federal agencies have been contacted on the matter.
“They have worked through a lot of these issues on what can and can’t be done in following the proper guidelines,” Terry said. “These people have spent their lives in the environmental business, so that’s who I’m listening to. They’re working with the proper authorities to come up with solutions. The big focus, of course, has been, ‘oh my God they’re going to kill all the geese,’ which, frankly, has never been the focus of any of those efforts.”
Meanwhile, the major emphasis of operations in Ocean Pines has been on the opening of the new yacht club. The facility is scheduled to open sometime in mid-to-late May.
“I have no reason to believe we are not going to meet our commitments,” Terry said. “We have a wedding in May and we have Memorial Day weekend coming, obviously, after that. And, barring any kind of big surprise, we will be in place to start serving our community in late May.”
No firm opening date has been set. A job fair in early April helped fill much of the facility’s staff, and Timothy Ulrich was hired as the yacht club’s executive chef earlier this year.
A referendum to build the new yacht club was passed by a 2-1 margin in 2012. The old facility was torn down in September of last year. The new building was repositioned, creating more room for outdoor activities, including a new pool.
“It needed to be replaced and I think (voters) are going to be very proud of what they decided to do once they get a chance to go inside that building,” Terry said. “The community is going to have a chance to walk through that building and take advantage of it, and I think they’ll be very proud of that whole area.”