In response to Cheryl Stuckey’s concerns about Whispering Pines as a sanctuary for birds, I can say unequivocally that it is. The “Bird Sanctuary” designation you see on signs around the village refers to hunting, or lack thereof, within the limits of the municipality.
Our management of the non-native Canada goose population is necessary and has been an annual task for years. We have over 100 geese in the village, and this number is unlikely to change even given our springtime efforts.
These birds are the descendants of stocked Canadas from decades ago, brought into the Sandhills for hunting, most likely. Since they were hand-reared individuals, these geese never were taught where to go come springtime. So, although experiencing restlessness in late winter, they became a fixture on our lakes year round. Given their relatively long life span (easily 10 years) and reproductive potential (seven goslings a year is not unusual), numbers of Canada geese here grew quickly.
In no time, the birds also became accustomed to human activity and, thus, became a nuisance on the golf course, where fecal material became a mess and posed a health threat to golfers. Also, birds began regularly wandering into people’s yards and readily grazed on not only grass but all sorts of plantings, in addition to helping themselves to bird seed at feeding stations. Lastly, these geese were directly impacting water quality in places where they would linger. High fecal coliform levels are still detected, especially in times of low flow, most summers — around Thagard Lake primarily.
Control of Canada geese significantly benefits our native wildlife. Without taking action, both aquatic and adjacent terrestrial vegetation would be decimated.
Controlling the reproduction of geese is important — and the responsible thing to do.
Susan Campbell, wildlife ecologist, Whispering Pines