Opinion

Reclaim our park from foul fowl | Editorial

As Deception Pass State Park is being considered for the National Register of Historic Places, the park has seen a precipitous drop in the number of people visiting, which has cost State Parks tens of thousands of dollars in visitor fees.

The reason for the lackluster attendance? Goose poop.

County health officials closed popular Cranberry Lake to swimming in August because of high levels of E. Coli in the water. Somewhere between 50 and 80 Canada geese live in the area and do what comes naturally after a high-fiber meal of weeds and bugs. As a result, the beach next to the swimming area on the west side of the lake — where hundreds of kids go to wade — is positively littered with goose feces the size of doggy doo-doo.

It’s not a pretty sight.

The park manager has been studying the issue for the last month and still hasn’t decided what to do. It’s a tough egg to crack, so to speak.

Park officials should start a pilot program using the best practices for the humane control of honkers. It could be a way to investigate methods and also demonstrate to the community at large that geese can be controlled.

There’s a plethora of information out there about ways to deal with annoying geese. Some of the more interesting ideas include specially trained dogs that spook geese; recordings of coyotes or geese in distress; radio-controlled boats; lasers at night; floating alligator heads; or a fog of goose repellent. Eggs should be addled.

An interesting enough program of goose deterrent could actually draw people to the park to see what officials are up to. Imagine a radio-controlled Loch Ness monster trolling the waters.

Volunteers can help with the effort and keep costs reasonable. Perhaps a goose control committee of local folks can be started.

Some people may argue that euthanizing the geese would be the easier answer. A department of the U.S. Department of Agriculture will round up and do away with geese that pose a nuisance — for a small fee.

But that would be a mistake. It’s not a permanent solution as more geese will simply move in. Residents of Honeymoon Lake Community on South Whidbey discovered earlier this year how divisive killing the big honkers would be.

After all, people visit the park to get close to nature.

 

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