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OPA geese on way to Maryland Food Bank, source says

Canada geese and other waterfowl were noticeably absent this week near the Worcester County Veteran’s Memorial in Ocean Pines. The geese were reportedly rounded up because of environmental concerns and are to be donated to the Maryland Food Bank.

By Josh Davis, Associate Editor

(July 12, 2018) The meat from Canada geese rounded up in Ocean Pines on June 29 is in the process of being donated to the Maryland Food Bank, according to a representative from the nonprofit reached for comment on Monday.

Ocean Pines residents, upon hearing news reports last week about the goose roundup, apparently contacted the Food Bank to confirm the meat had been donated.

Some confusion occurred because, initially, no one told the Food Bank the meat was coming.

Ben Gross, a Food Bank staff writer filling in for the communications director, said he was familiar with donations of deer and goose meat being made after culling of wildlife had occurred.

He said the Department of Natural Resources oversaw the program and the Food Bank was merely a recipient.

“My understanding of the process is … it’s not as simple as one day they’re out in the field and the next day they’re at [the Food Bank],” he said. “There are USDA requirements and food-safety issues, so my understanding is DNR does their thing, then they send the results of their effort to a gentleman named ‘John the Butcher’ in Worton who is USDA-approved to do these things.”

Gross said meat could be picked up by or delivered to the Food Bank, depending on the quantity, and there could be “further specifications from there.”

“Since these are considered to be government-subsidized events, there could be restrictions on where the food is distributed,” he said.

He did not know how much meat would be donated.

“In general I would say it’s anywhere from a couple of days to longer than a week lag time in between when DNR is doing their activity and when they reach back out to us to pick up or deliver,” he said.

Ocean Pines General Manager John Bailey emailed a statement about the rounded up Canada geese on June 29.

“Ocean Pines Association contracted with the United States Department of Agriculture, Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) Wildlife Services (WS) for the removal of resident Canada geese as a part of the USDA’s wildlife damage management project,” Bailey said.

“APHIS WS has the authority to work with local organizations to conduct such a program to address mammal and bird species, such as Canada geese, and their negative impact that they have on local water quality and thus human health and safety.

“Because we all strive to be good stewards of the environment, it is regretful that such action is necessary from time to time in order to maintain the balance between two environmental watch-cares – the geese versus the water quality. Unfortunately, the presence of resident Canada geese contributes to unacceptable accumulation levels of feces in the waters and recreation areas of the community. Prior to their arrival today, the APHIS WS made the determination that the actions today would be in compliance with all federal statutes, including the National Environmental Policy Act.

“This project developed from the association’s Environment & Natural Assets Advisory Committee, which is made up of members of the community. The wildlife management project was approved as part of the budget for 2018-19. Per the APHIS WS, the resident Canada geese that were captured and removed from the community were humanely euthanized and donated to the Maryland Food Bank.”

Bailey and other Ocean Pines officials did not respond to additional requests for comment.