Watch your step: City seeks reduction in goose population

Published 8:26 pm Thursday, March 26, 2015

JONATHAN ROWE | DAILY NEWS GOOSE STEPS: Geese take a morning walk along Jack’s Creek. The city is working to reduce the goose population in that area.

GOOSE STEPS: Geese take a morning walk along Jack’s Creek. The city is working to reduce the goose population in that area.

Washington’s proposal to spend $80,000 to extend the Jack’s Creek greenway and money on new tennis courts instead of restoring existing tennis courts is drawing criticism from one city resident.

“I am opposed to two expenditures that have been discussed in front of the City Council in the last little bit. … I just walked through Veterans Park and took a picture of the greenway there. Nobody, to my knowledge, uses that on a regular basis because of the goose droppings,” Susan Zachary told the council during its meeting Monday. “A goose will drop … about a pound and a half of droppings per day. That is a lot of duck poop on the walkway, and we’re looking at spending $80,000 on the greenway, expanding the greenway over and across between Bonner (Street) and Jack’s Creek and over to Havens Gardens.”

Zachary said it makes no sense to spend $80,000 to expand the greenway when the “we’re not taking care of what we’ve got.”

“I go by there every day and have very rarely seen anybody over there. The only way to get rid of goose droppings is to get rid of the geese, of course,” she said.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s only suggestion to remedy the situation is to “turn over” goose eggs at the proper time so they will not hatch. The process, known as addling, requires removing fertilized eggs from the nest to interrupt embryo development and placing eggs back in the nest. Less geese in an area equates to less goose feces, the USDA concludes.

Zachary also expressed concern about spending money to build more tennis courts in the city when existing courts at Bughouse Park are not being used. Those courts are in “total disrepair,” she said.

“Again, I don’t see why we should build more tennis courts when we’re not taking care of what we’ve got,” Zachary said. “So, I’m opposed to those two expenditures.”

City officials told Zachary the tennis courts at Bughouse Park are prone to flooding because of their proximity to Jack’s Creek and the Pamlico River. That flooding damages the courts, they said. Restoration of those courts likely will not happen, according to city officials.

City Manager Brian Alligood said the city is in contract negotiations with USDA officials regarding control of the goose population in the Jack’s Creek basin. The city has a permit for the legal taking of geese.

“We are working with them on a program. We currently have a maintenance program where we run the geese with a dog. We have a contract to do that in an effort to move those geese away from there. We are coming into the nesting period, where we will be working with USDA on egg oiling. … That process is a long process, and we’re in the middle of it,” Alligood said. “It is our goal to reduce that population as much as we can in a legal manner.”

A presentation on that removal effort will be made to the council within the next several weeks, he said.






About Mike Voss

Mike Voss is the contributing editor at the Washington Daily News. He has a daughter and four grandchildren. Except for nearly six years he worked at the Free Lance-Star in Fredericksburg, Va., in the early to mid-1990s, he has been at the Daily News since April 1986.
Journalism awards:
• Pulitzer Prize for Meritorious Public Service, 1990.
• Society of Professional Journalists: Sigma Delta Chi Award, Bronze Medallion.
• Associated Press Managing Editors’ Public Service Award.
• Investigative Reporters & Editors’ Award.
• North Carolina Press Association, First Place, Public Service Award, 1989.
• North Carolina Press Association, Second Place, Investigative Reporting, 1990.
All those were for the articles he and Betty Gray wrote about the city’s contaminated water system in 1989-1990.
• North Carolina Press Association, First Place, Investigative Reporting, 1991.
• North Carolina Press Association, Third Place, General News Reporting, 2005.
• North Carolina Press Association, Second Place, Lighter Columns, 2006.
Recently learned he will receive another award.
• North Carolina Press Association, First Place, Lighter Columns, 2010.
4. Lectured at or served on seminar panels at journalism schools at UNC-Chapel Hill, University of Maryland, Columbia University, Mary Washington University and Francis Marion University.

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