By CHELSEA KELLNER
SANFORD — In just two years, the goose population of Carolina Trace exploded from 10 to 80. As of Monday, it’s down to zero.
The birds were euthanized by Wildlife Services agents because of an increasing number of health and safety complaints, according to Carolina Trace Golf Course Superintendent Tim Hart.
Residents complained of birds chasing golfers, causing traffic problems and dirtying up the golf green and the community entrance where children wait for the school bus.
“It’s nothing anybody likes to see happen, but you can’t relocate geese, because you’re moving the problem and making it somebody else’s problem,” Hart said.
Wildlife Services agents euthanised the birds via carbon dioxide gas pumped into airtight cages on Monday, the same method used by veterinarians, Senior Wildlife Specialist Josh Biesecker said.
Some residents acknowledge the necessity, but are upset with the methods.
“I felt really bad about it, and wish there had been another way to handle it,” 20year resident Julie Conder said. “To see them rounded up and herded into a cage was shocking and sad.”
The Carolina Trace dilemma is part of a bigger goose problem all over the East Coast. There are a growing numbers of the birds, and many no longer migrate because of the mild climate and bountiful food supply.
Biesecker said that the U.S.Department of Agriculture’s Wildlife Services division in Raleigh gets several hundred calls a year asking for goose removal. The problem has grown so bad that the state recently instituted a Canada goose-hunting season starting in September.
With its large lake and greenspaces, Carolina Trace is “a great location if you’re a goose,” Hart acknowledges.
Before the euthanisation, golf course staff tried several suggestions from the state wildlife office to get rid of the birds, from letting the grass grow tall around the golf course to physically chasing them away. The geese continued to multiply. Finally, with support of the resident-run Carolina Trace Association, Hart called Wildlife Services. They came out, conducted a survey of the birds and the situation, and made their recommendation.
“It’s OK to have a few geese, but once the number starts growing, then you start to have problems,” Biesecker said.
Geese can be a safety threat to children and the elderly, according to Biesecker, particularly when there are eggs to be protected. They can leave large bruises when they bite, and pack a wallop when they flog victims with their wings. “A goose is a big bird, and it can easily put a small child on the ground,” Biesecker said. The Carolina Trace Association, the governing homeowner’s association which manages security issues, the main road and the entranceway, gave verbal approval to the measure.
“I don’t like doing that kind of stuff, but sometimes you have to make a decision that’s best for the community and not just about what I think,” CTA President Ray Nuzzolo said. “In the end, we felt this was best for the community, especially since it was condoned and executed by the state.”
There have been no goose sightings around the grounds since Monday, but there’s no way of knowing if more will come.
“We’re going to play it by ear,” Hart said.
NOTE FROM THE CANADA GOOSE HALL OF SHAME
Carolina Trace Country Club has obviously not exhausted all humane methods at controlling the population of geese on their course. Golf courses in many cities throughout the US and Canada have had tremendous success with the use of professionally handled border collies to herd the geese from the courses and keep them away. Many cities and golf courses have also had great success with the relocation of geese and their young during the annual summer molt. The best method by far is landscape modification, which deters geese from using the lakes because the vegetation hinders their line of sight. That is not only aesthetically pleasing but also permanent and far more cost effective in the long term.
Please CLICK HERE for humane methods of geese population control.