Ocean Pines General Manager John Bailey is providing the community and its surrounding public with more information regarding Ocean Pines Association’s decision to reduce its resident Canada geese population.
“As with everything, there is always more to any topic. The goose issue at Ocean Pines is but one example,” said Bailey. “A little history helps shed light on what unfortunately led to the recent removal of most of the geese population.”
Bailey said that in September of 2014, the Association’s Environment and Natural Assets Advisory Committee, made up of Ocean Pines residents, presented a three-pronged approach to the Ocean Pines Board of Directors to mitigate the damage to the environment caused by non-migratory Canada geese.
The approach consisted of three non-lethal control measures:
1) Create a no-mow area and install appropriate landscaping around the north gate and Memorial ponds to help discourage geese from frequenting the ponds and install monofilament lines to block easy access for the birds;
2) Enter into an agreement with the Department of Agriculture to treat, remove and destroy Canada geese nests to help control the resident goose population;
3) Apply the product “Flight Control” to approximately two acres near the Memorial to test its effectiveness.
A motion was made at the Sept. 27, 2014 Board of Directors meeting to formally adopt this three-pronged approach, and the measure passed unanimously.
The following was reported by the Environment and Natural Assets Advisory Committee in its annual report to the Board of Directors for 2015:
Monofilament line was strung around both the North Gate and South Gate ponds. The domestic geese were not deterred by the line and broke through them. Also, some members of the community cut the lines. Therefore, there is a continuous maintenance issue. The conclusion is that action did not work.
Allowing grasses to grow high at the edges of the ponds deters the geese from entering the ponds because they cannot see and fear predators. Currently, the grasses are growing, but there are complaints from the community that it does not look good. The committee was divided at that time whether the no-mow effort was working.
Goose egg oiling was done on a small scale at the North Gate Pond. The result was that only 5 goslings were hatched. No eggs were oiled at the South Gate pond, and we saw an increase of 38 new goslings in the spring of 2015. Flight Control substance has been spread on the area around the Veterans Memorial in an effort to stop the geese from grazing there. It appears to work but should be reapplied after each rain and it is expensive.
Conclusion: all of these actions will help slow down the growth of the goose population, however, the resident Canada goose problem remains. The domestic goose flock increased by 5 and is not good for the pond environment. Health and safety hazards, fish kills, algae blooms are all major concerns.
By March 2016, the Board formally rescinded the three-pronged approach, also by unanimous vote.
“The non-lethal measures were directed to be abandoned,” said Bailey. “Fast forward two years and we have the resulting growth of the goose population to over three hundred, with future growth unmitigated.”
Bailey said there are a lot of facts about geese that the public needs to consider.
“For example, most people do not know that the Maryland Department of Natural Resources does not authorize the capture and relocation of Canada geese.”
He added, “Furthermore, it should be noted, again, that the United States Department of Agriculture, Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service Wildlife Services is the governmental branch that the association, and many other entities, contracted with to conduct the removal of geese.” Wildlife Services staff conducted the removal of resident Canada geese as a part of the USDA’s wildlife damage management project. The staff of the Ocean Pines Association did not participate in the action by which 290 geese were removed.
“Wildlife Services is made up of people who care greatly about the environment, and they are not just going to capture and euthanize anything unless they understand it to be an unfortunate but viable part of a mitigation effort,” said Bailey. “No one gets any joy or comfort from having to take such mitigating actions. The Association will continue to try to abate the problems associated with geese, particularly its population growth, by as many means as we can, and we would much prefer that other options be successful. Unfortunately, history isn’t very promising – however, just as science continues to shed light on all subjects – maybe it will provide us a means by which we can avoid more difficult decisions in the future.”
For more information about controlling conflicts with resident Canada geese in Maryland, log onto Maryland Department of Natural Resources’ website at http://dnr.maryland.gov/wildlife/Pages/plants_wildlife/ResGeeseProblem.aspx.