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Hunters plan to cull goose population on Quechee golf course

  • Golfers play a round at the Quechee Club golf course on Saturday morning, Aug. 31, 2019, in Quechee, Vt. The Quechee Lakes Land Owners Association is planning a goose hunt around the area of Lake Pinneo and the golf course on Tuesday, Sept. 3, an effort to cull the population of birds and prevent health hazards from their droppings. (Valley News - Jennifer Hauck) Copyright Valley News. May not be reprinted or used online without permission. Send requests to permission@vnews.com.

Valley News Staff Writer
Published: 8/31/2019 10:05:08 PM
Modified: 8/31/2019 10:05:05 PM

QUECHEE — A team of licensed hunters is set to start shooting as many Canada geese as they can round up early Tuesday morning at the Quechee Club’s Lakeland golf course.

And the culling could continue through the end of Vermont’s goose-hunting season on Sept. 25, if many more than 30 of the resident gaggle survive and resume their occupation of the course’s man-made waterways and the Ottauquechee River, members of the club and the Quechee Lakes Landowners Association learned last week.

“This is a legal hunting operation, which we are sponsoring to cull the resident population before the migratory birds start arriving in early October,” club property manager Ken Lallier wrote in the Aug. 30 to Sept. 5 edition of the Q-Notes newsletter. “Left unmanaged, these resident birds will increase in number and become a nuisance and a health hazard with their droppings on the courses and Lake Pinneo beach. The resident birds are the ones that will return next season to fledge their young, and that is why it is extremely important to maintain some control over the resident flock numbers.”

It wasn’t clear whether hunters traditionally cull the geese as part of the club’s annual roundup, or whether birds previously were trapped and relocated.

Efforts to reach Lallier and other club officials for comment were unsuccessful.

Either way, longtime Quechee Lakes landowner and Quechee Club golfer Maureen Bacon didn’t welcome the news.

“I can’t believe they’re going to do this,” Bacon, who used to run the Quechee Lakes real estate office on Route 4, said Saturday. “I played golf there on Friday, and a number of people I ran into hadn’t even heard of it. I had heard last year about some landowners going out on the course and coming back with their carts just covered with blood from the geese they’d shot, but not that it was anything official.”

At the nearby Vermont Institute of Natural Science, the hunt was news to lead wildlife keeper Grae O’Toole, too.

“This is the first I’m hearing about it,” O’Toole said Saturday morning. “I don’t know of anyone coming from the Quechee Club to consult us.”

Such hunts do happen elsewhere in the United States. Over a little more than a week in early July, federal wildlife authorities rounded up and shot more than 1,600 geese in the city parks of Denver, culling more than a third of the resident geese and donating the cleaned carcasses to nonprofits to cook for families in need.

While the hunt in Colorado prompted protests from wildlife advocates, the Denver Post newspaper editorialized in favor of the killings.

“I understand that some people do see it as a resource for culling populations,” O’Toole said. “It can be an effective population-control method.”

In an email of protest on Thursday, Bacon encouraged the Quechee Club to “look into other alternatives to keeping the geese off the course like other golf courses have done with border collies.”

The web site wildlifehelp.org points out that eliminating geese is no easy feat.

“There is no ‘silver bullet’ for the long-term removal of nuisance geese,” it says. “Each situation is different and requires different strategies.”

Michigan’s Department of Natural Resources does offer landscaping pointers to discourage geese from settling in.

“Geese are attracted to lawns mowed short, but are not as attracted to taller grasses or other vegetation,” the department says on its website. “For example, an unmowed, 6-foot-wide shoreline buffer of tall native grasses or a hedgerow 20 to 30 inches tall can discourage geese from visiting.”

Bacon said she hopes enough landowners and club members speak up soon enough to prompt the club and the landowners’ association to rethink Tuesday’s hunt.

“It seems like a drastic measure to take,” she concluded. “I think it’s awful.”

David Corriveau can be reached at dcorriveau@vnews.com and at 603-727-3304.




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