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Removal of Canada geese from Wellesley Island questioned

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WELLESLEY ISLAND — The owner of a goose-control business that briefly operated at the Thousand Islands Country Club is questioning whether the club and federal wildlife officials exhausted their options for removing Canada geese from the property before calling in federal officials to have the birds destroyed.

“It’s discouraging to know they didn’t try something that works before going to a lethal method,” said Ann E. Mazur, president of Green Acres Goose Control, Clayton. “I wish they had tried another effective humane method first.”

The club, in coordination with the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Wildlife Services, had about 120 Canada geese from Densmore Bay and the club’s marina removed. The birds, collected during a molting period when their lack of wing feathers prevented them from flying, were put in poultry crates and taken to a food processor in the western part of the state. The processed meat then was donated to food pantries.

William H. Bartlett, the club’s manager and course superintendent, said crews had exhausted all viable options before proceeding with the roundup, including addling the birds’ eggs and using loud shell-cracker shotgun blanks.

However, Ms. Mazur said her company had been successful in nonlethally clearing the birds in 2010, after her company offered the club free service for a week to demonstrate the work it could do.

She said her company cleared the geese by circling the club on golf carts with border collies, and allowing the dogs to chase geese spotted on the property, both on the grass and in ponds where the birds would initially shift.

“The dogs act as pseudo-predators and make the geese feel uncomfortable,” Ms. Mazur said.

The dogs also would accompany company staff on kayaks and small boats to scare birds populating in waters close to shore.

She said the work was successful in clearing the birds from the property, and that she received positive feedback from both residents of properties close to the course and the club’s president, JoAnn Schwalm.

Despite the positive results, Ms. Mazur said the club owners declined to continue her services, suggesting their decision might have been linked to the price of the work. Declining to specify the exact quote she offered the club, Ms. Mazur said the cost of her company’s services for the summer was a mid-level, four-digit figure.

Despite her disagreement about the roundup, which she called “secretive and knee-jerk,” Ms. Mazur did concede the island is facing a rapidly growing population of Canada geese that could present problems. She said that managing goose populations is done better through full-time management, instead of one-time clearings.

“You can’t just do it one day late in June,” Ms. Mazur said. “It’s something that requires a lot of time and maintenance to make it work.”

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