CAROLINA BEACH — Carolina Beach’s Lake Park is one of the town’s most visited and used attractions, from paddle boats to the farmers market there’s often something happening at the lake — but a growing gaggle of geese has some concerned with the health of the lake and the usability of the town park.
One resident has reached out to town leaders to see if anything can be done to reduce the number of geese, citing feces issues along with overprotective geese making it difficult to enjoy the park.
“We have about 30 geese and growing. I would say by next year we could have 40-50.
The poop is overwhelming. Not just the sidewalks but you Can’t even walk on the grass. The bacteria level must be sky high. We get chased by the daddy’s protecting their young.
It’s an embarrassment when tourist visit and think it’s a nice place to walk and take the kids,” the resident wrote in an email to the town.
But is there really anything the town can do about the goose population at the lake? As it turns out, it’s a felony offense to relocate geese unless they are injured.
“If it’s [a goose] not injured, it’s illegal for us to come relocate them and catch them,” Amelia Mason, owner of Skywatch Bird Rescue said in a previous interview. “It’s considered wildlife interference.”
Relocation of geese is not practical, even if it were permitted since they will likely return.
According to N.C. Wildlife Resources Commission, “Because relocating Canada geese is not a practical or effective method of controlling problems associated with their presence, the WRC does not allow relocation of problem geese. If successful, relocation moves the problem onto someone else’s property, but more commonly the geese will simply return as long as the area remains attractive to them.”
Canada Geese are also protected under federal law, the Migratory Bird Treaty Act but there are permits available to destroy their nests — but that is not always a viable solution even if granted.
“If geese are causing damage to agricultural crops you can reach out to your local district biologist between May 1st and August 31st to acquire a depredation permit for removing geese outside of hunting season. Depredation cases related to agricultural/crop damage do not require an additional federal permit during this time period,” according to state regulation.
But the town would be hard pressed to prove any crop damage at the lake due to geese, but they could potentially still get a permit for the lethal taking of geese.
“In situations where hunting is not possible and crop damage is not involved, if landowners can demonstrate that non-lethal control methods have proven to be ineffective, there is direct economic loss from the presence of Canada geese, or there is a direct threat to human health and/or safety, lethal removal of geese may still be an available option. In these instances, property owners must acquire both a state and federal permit allowing lethal take,” according to state law.
What’s a town to do?
According to Assistant Town Manager Ed Parvin, town staff would not get involved on their own with the goose situation at the lake.
“Our folks would not directly delve into action with the geese. We would request help from the state or nonprofits set up to help wildlife if this has become an issue,” Parvin said.
As far as the concerns with the algae, Parvin said it has been an ongoing issue for the town that can also be tied back to the need for dredging the lake. A project that has been on hold for sometime now after starting only to be told to stop by the federal government.
“This has been a challenge for us. Dredging the lake would not only help with stormwater but also help with preventing the algae. We are awaiting responses from MOTSU on our request to place lake dredge spoils within the buffer zone. We are hopeful this will be approved and we can move forward with the project. In the interim, our stormwater staff is working to have the algae removed,” he said.
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