LINCOLN – In an attempt to stem the tide of duck and geese defecation this summer in and around Mattanawcook Lake, town officials Tuesday met with a wildlife specialist to discuss options for deterring or removing the animals.
Trapping the ducks and modifying the landscape to deter geese were two of the suggestions made by Joe Caudell of the U.S. Department of Agriculture to Councilor Jim Libby and Police Chief Hank Dusenbery.
For a number of years, ducks that stay on the lake during the summer have come onto land in Prince Thomas Park near the downtown and feed on bread handouts from people, Libby said.
With dozens of ducks in the water last summer, the amount of defecation was a factor that led the town to close the swimming program because of the health risks, Libby said.
The ducks also congregated in a downtown parking lot and people ended up tracking feces into downtown stores, he said.
“[The ducks] own the parking lot,” Libby said. “They run right up to the car door when you park because they think you’re going to feed them.”
While the town passed an ordinance last year against feeding the ducks at the park or the lake’s dam, people continued to feed the animals in other places, Libby said. With a few ducks returning to the lake over the last two weeks, Libby said now would the time to come up with a plan.
Without a way to stop people from feeding the ducks, the town’s best option would be to reduce the number of ducks, Caudell said. Although it may be unpopular, trapping and euthanizing some percentage of the ducks would be an option, as would relocating some of the ducks, he said.
Both methods likely would require assistance from state wildlife personnel, he said.
The town also might consider obtaining a depredation permit from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to allow volunteers to locate duck nests on the lake and “addle” the eggs, thereby destroying the yolks and keeping the duck’s population down, he said.
Any of the potential methods likely would need to be regularly repeated – either annually or every couple of years, he said.
“This isn’t going to be a one-time fix,” Caudell said.
The geese that often loaf around and defecate on the athletic fields behind Mattanawcook Junior High School could be deterred through some changes to the landscape, Caudell said.
Making the bank steeper between the field and the lake would make the location less attractive to geese, as would planting bushes or a hedgerow near the bank, Caudell said. Geese don’t like areas where predators could hide, he said.
Dusenbery said he planned to take the suggestions to Town Manager Glenn Aho.