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Ocean Pines Environmental Committee seeks geese solutions

Ocean Pines environmental group continues research to reign in feathered fowls

By Greg Ellison

(April 1, 2021) Fresh approaches and continuing efforts to control geese populations at the ponds in Ocean Pines dominated discussions at the Environmental & Natural Assets Committee meeting last Wednesday.

Committee Chairman Ken Wolf said data from several rounds of water tests performed late last year at three ponds in North and South Gate were reviewed.

Board of directors liaison to the committee Tom Janasek said test results revealed the highest concentration of geese feces was found at the northern North Gate Pond.

“It’s obviously not safe for swimming … based on the bacteria that’s growing in there because it’s a pond,” he said.

With assistance from the Maryland Coastal Bays Program, DNA testing and sequencing were used to distinguish species sources, Wolf said.

Janasek said data also indicated a spike in dog feces near parking areas at the South Gate Pond.

“There was no goose feces found but there was a lot of dog feces found,” he said.

Still digging in for new approaches to control geese populations at the ponds, Wolf said the committee is looking into a special turf grass deployed to deter wildlife.

“We’re at the investigative stage,” he said.

FlightTurf, which was invented by Christina Kobland nearly a decade ago, has proven effective at discouraging fowl from congregating near airport runway fields.

“The stuff doesn’t taste good,” he said. “They don’t want to stay there because it’s a bitter taste.”

FlightTurf is currently used at numerous airports across the country, including Baltimore-Washington International and San Francisco International.

The turf vegetation management system, which requires minimal mowing, has more recently been marketed as LymeX grass seed for roadside, commercial or residential applications.

“If this would work it would take care of everything,” he said.

In terms of next steps, Wolf said the committee intends to contact Kobland to learn the specifics.

If further research indicates the method could be suitable, the committee hopes to gain approval for a project in the future.

“We need to figure out the size and scope,” he said.

If the approach appears to be suitable, the committee would seek approval from the board of directors for General Manager John Viola and Public Works crews to conduct a feasibility study.

“We wanted any grasses or shrubs to develop as an impediment to geese,” he said. “They worry about predators if they can’t see everything happening when they step out of the water.”

Reviving natural growth around the South Gate Pond, however, spurred complaints from residents.

“We tried to do things in the past, and we did have it grow up, but there was an objection in the community that this doesn’t look good,” he said.

Wolf said either avenue to deter geese from waddling onto land is preferable to euthanizing wildlife as was pursued in 2018.

“At some point it will come to that,” he said. “The geese problem is an 800-pound gorilla [and] it’s never going away until you have a solution.”