Contractor killing Canada geese at Lake Camanche
Hundreds of Canada geese at Lake Camanche are being killed by a contractor paid by East Bay Municipal Utility District to reduce their numbers by 20 percent. The eradication is necessary, EBMUD officials said, to improve water quality at the sprawling reservoir, located about 40 miles east of Lodi.
But some would ask if the right system is being used?
Kent Lambert, EBMUD's manager of Mokelumne Watershed and Recreation said the contractor, Animal Damage Control, was employed to relieve a problem.
"We did research and found goose droppings were fouling the beaches at Lake Camanche," Lambert said. "We talked with a biologist within the district and determined the Canada goose population is really exploding with resident and non-resident birds, contributing to a huge number - an estimated 1,500 last year."
Lambert confirmed that, in some instances, bacteria in the lake water exceeded standards for E. coli and other water quality standards.
"We sent DNA samples to Purdue University for testing, and their scientists believe it is a high likelihood that geese are causing the problem," Lambert said. "That's when we decided to bring the population into line."
It's ironic that when EBMUD halted a public waterfowl hunting program at Lake Camanche some 20 years ago, there wasn't an overpopulation of Canada geese or a problem with water quality. When the publicly owned utility stopped hunting, goose management ceased and things got out of control.
"We've taken to heart the comments from hunters," Lambert said. "We're offering a more general public hunting opportunity at the 1,500-acre Camanche Hills Hunting Preserve, just north of the main lake, where Canada geese may be hunted on Wednesdays and Saturdays for a fee.
That program is operated under our guidelines through the concessionaire at Camanche Hills."
Lambert said EBMUD wanted to segregate various recreational activities about 20 years ago and totally eliminated hunting on the 7,700-acre lake with 53 miles of shoreline. Instead of changing internal rules and regulations within the utility, they tried to create a goose hunting program just north of the lake which would accommodate hunters.
Nick Catrina, a licensed guide and owner of Animal Damage Control, is responsible for removing geese from Camanche Lake. His outfit has killed an estimated 150 geese this autumn.
"I have the dirty job," said Catrina, who said squads of five to six shooters, at times more, "all work for me and do what I tell them."
"This isn't a sport hunt, and our work isn't open to the public," Catrina said. "We're trying to reduce the population of geese and usually have an EBMUD park ranger among the group to oversee what we're doing."
Lambert said the goose killing is done within Department of Fish and Game rules, including a daily limit of four Canadas per gun.
"At times, even a Fish and Game warden is on hand," Lambert said. "At times, shooting is from boats, on others, it is from the shoreline."
Keeping a burgeoning Canada goose population in check isn't in question here. But lingering questions about contracted killing should be raised. Is it morally right for a public utility to gun down a public resource and forbid public hunting to manage Canada geese?
It's also ironic that hunters willingly pay $150 a day to hunt Canada geese right across the road on EBMUD land at Camanche Hills Hunting Preserve, while the utility (through its rate payers) shells out $400 a day to Animal Damage Control to remove geese by using the same methods while denying the public.
Chris Cantwell, general manager of Camanche Recreation Company, the concessionaire at Lake Camanche said, "EBMUD advises us when they are culling geese and where."
Cantwell said, however, he wishes the managing of geese was through public hunting.
"I've been supportive of public hunting on the lake and building blinds again like they did years ago," he said.
"It's only right."
Meanwhile, sport hunters must contact Camanche Hills Hunting Preserve, located adjacent to Camanche Lake's north shore, if they wish to try their luck at goose hunting.
Spokeswoman Joyce Skinner said the hunting preserve offers guides, decoys and blinds and takes up to six hunters at a time for a "fair chase" experience. She said sport hunters have taken an estimated 60 Canada geese this season.
"We had six shooters last weekend and all limited out," she said. "They came back to the office and signed up again. The woman in the group, who had never shot a big 12-pound honker before, couldn't keep the grin off her face."
lovecanadageeseNovember 15, 2007 11:42 PM