Gone geese?: Council will consider agreement with USDA to kill up to 50 waterfowl

Published 2:06 am Sunday, April 12, 2015

COURTESY OF MJ CARBO 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 City Council, during its meeting Monday, will consider approving an agreement between the city and the U.S. Department of Agriculture to remove geese from the Jack’s Creek basin at a cost not to exceed $3,282, according to a city document.

The city has been negotiating with USDA officials regarding ways to control the goose population in that basin, which abuts Veterans Memorial Park. The U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service has issued the city a depredation permit that allows the city to “lethally” take up to 50 geese as part of the efforts to reinforce and improve harassment efforts used by the city to control the goose population.

The lethal methods include shooting and trapping and euthanizing the geese during the their annual molt (or moult) period (when they shed old feathers to make room for new feathers).

Several posts on social media sites and emails received by the Washington Daily News indicate several people plan to speak about the proposed agreement during the council’s meeting.

The agreement, if approved, would involve the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service-Wildlife Services.

“The amount of fecal matter left by the geese is creating a public health risk and the geese are also causing property damage to grass and erosion of pond/drainage ditch banks. For the past year, the City has been employing harassment efforts to minimize the number of geese in the area,” reads a memorandum from City Manager Brian Alligood to the mayor and council members.

Those harassment efforts included using a trained dog to run the geese and erecting signs warning people not to feed the geese. Egg oiling will occur, and additional methods such as planting specific vegetation along the creek banks to deter the geese are being investigated, according to the memorandum.

“The USDA will conduct the lethal take operations under the attached Cooperative Service Agreement in an amount not to exceed $3,282.00,” reads the memorandum. Emily Gaydos, a district supervisor for USDA’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service and Wildlife Services, is scheduled to discuss the agreement with city officials Monday.

“The mission of USDA APHIS Wildlife Services (WS) is to provide Federal leadership and expertise to resolve wildlife conflicts to allow people and wildlife to coexist,” reads the agency’s website.

During a council meeting in March (reported by the Washington Daily News), Susan Zachary spoke to the council about the geese and related matters, including the city’s proposal to spend $80,000 to extend the Jack’s Creek greenway.

“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,” Zachary told the council during that March 23 meeting. “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 council meets at 5:30 p.m. Monday in the Council Chambers in the Municipal Building, 102 E. Second St. To view the council’s agenda for a specific meeting, visit the city’s web­site at www.washingtonnc.gov, click “Government” then “City Council” heading, then click “Meeting Agendas” on the menu to the right. Then click on the date for the appropriate agenda.



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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