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Goose group leader lashes out at directors

Geese have returned to the waters near the Worcester County Veteran’s Memorial in Ocean Pines, but protestors of the June culling of resident Canada geese continue to slam officials within the association’s administration.

By Josh Davis, Associate Editor

(Oct. 4, 2018) The June euthanizing of several hundred Canada geese in Ocean Pines continues to be a contentious issue, with several board members weighing in this week ahead of a planned citizen group meeting, and the host going on a tirade that specifically targeted Association Vice President Steve Tuttle.

On Monday organizer Mary Deborah Wilson sent a mass email stating the next meeting of the “The Ocean Pines Geese and Ecology Brain Trust Initiative: Securing a Balance” group would occur on Oct. 9 at 6:30 p.m. at the Ocean Pines Library.

Wilson said Mary Lou Simms is the scheduled speaker.

Ocean Pines Association President Doug Parks and Directors Colette Horn, Esther Diller and Slobodan Trendic all replied they would be out of town. Director Frank Daly, however, offered, “I will decide when I see the speaker’s bio.”

Wilson said she was displeased.

“Hmmmm….. That does not send a positive message to the community. All information that is shared about geese is important, irrespective of speakers,” she said.

“With all due respect, I would strongly encourage you not to take that ‘tack,’” Wilson continued. “With all the negative publicity, BOD members’ absence will be interpreted as assignation, apathy, ‘more of the same’….. and/or your quote: ‘a damnable culture of indifference.’”

Tuttle said he would attend the meeting and also weighed in on the initial session the group held in August.

“I do want to make a some comments regarding the last meeting and how that might impact the attendance of not only myself, but others who are concerned about how OPA deals responsibly with the geese,” Tuttle said. “In my opinion, not as a director but as a resident of OPA, no one that I know wants to remove and kill the geese. Several steps short of that were tried over the previous months before this step was taken.

“At the last meeting, the presentation was well over an hour, most of which was pulled from various sites accessible via Google or other search engines. [While] it was considerable information, I did not find it particularly helpful. The information seemed to more be in support of do nothing, the geese are not the problem, people are the problem.

“What I had hoped for in attending the meeting was more discussion by the group on ways to mitigate the impact of the geese. If this meeting is more about the kind of information presented at the last meeting or in the article by Mary Lou Simms, I for one do not believe this will help to move us forward.

“The reality is that residents of OPA are divided on how to mitigate the impact of the geese. I would conjecture that the spectrum runs from ‘do nothing,’ to periodically ‘remove and kill the geese.’

“An attempt will be made using border collies in the near future to encourage the geese to move to another location. This is a pilot program and will provide further information on the success/failure of this technique. I know that a well-respected dog trainer has been consulted regarding the use of border collies prior to moving forward with this pilot program. It is my understanding he agrees with trying the pilot program.”

Tuttle went on to say he looked into a “Goosinator” tool suggested by Wilson and also researched the “GooseBuster,” a type of sonic deterrent.

Tuttle said the former was relatively inexpensive to buy, but may be costly to use and maintain. He said of the latter he “concluded that the system on its own would not be effective.”

“There is no easy remedy across the spectrum of opinions within OPA,” he said. “I welcome constructive efforts by anyone to help provide a remedy that will move us forward.”

Daly, in a follow-up email, said he agreed.

“We need to find an efficient, cost effective method to manage the flock of resident Canada geese to a level [that] provides a balance between ecology, environment and the people that use our water resources,” Daly said. “That will require information from experienced, well credentialed experts as to what the flock size should be given our water resources and the best way to manage the flock to that level.”

Wilson, in an email directed at Tuttle and forwarded to several dozen others, appeared to attack the new director, who was elected two months after the euthanasia occurred.

“Maybe you were not at the same meeting or did not hear expert-supported information,” she said. “The meeting on 8/16/18 included extensive research findings which had not been disseminated or promulgated by the [environment and natural assets committee] or [board of directors].”

Wilson added, if the meeting was “Nothing but Googled info,” why had the board not reviewed that information?

“Extensive info given,” she said. “Info was needed due to the hysteria and ignorance in this community about geese. The OP leadership did not explore the main concerns from SOME residents about health/water. Your leadership should have been reassuring residents, not pushing for lethal actions.

“Our group and my initial initiative/efforts filled that leadership and information vacuum. Someone had to do it no matter how much you diss or minimize the work.”

She added, “I find your comments insulting, leadership-devoid and in poor taste about this meeting, the work of myself and geese committee members. This behavior is out of character for what anyone should reasonably expect from any type of Board member.”

Wilson suggested Tuttle and others either didn’t listen or “came in with prejudiced biases or preconceived notions.”

She called “the lack of review of health and water harm … severely irresponsible,” adding, “As a well known local politician shared with me ‘the OPA BOD is on the brink of being help responsible for their actions.’”

“Your comments will not stop the intentions, passion, or interests of this committee of concerned OP residents,” Wilson said.

“Your criticism of me and others … well, what can I say? A displacement of the inadequacies of the OPA leadership past and present? Diverting off of the authentic issues? Buying more time to do nothing and hope it will go away? Trying to satisfy cronies or a political base?

“Very well could be any or all of the above for if we criticize, it takes the focus off of our own inadequacies and allows things to fall back into inertia.

“Not going to come to the meeting? Get a check mark for another link in the chain of chronically unhappy residents wherein the OPA Board is not performing fiduciary responsibility. Do not use your negative reaction to the first meeting as an EXCUSE to not keep involved. We are NOT BUYING it.”