Lake Junaluska to ban duck feeding
It's not uncommon to see children feeding leftover bread to the flocks of ducks and geese at Lake Junaluska.
But the constant odor and soiled walking paths from the birds has prompted Lake residents to cry "fowl."
The Lake Junaluska Community Council, with support from the Junaluska Assembly, recently voted to apply a no feeding policy, which will start Sept. 17.
The problem is a result of a growing number of geese that refuse to migrate.
“We have more complaints about geese and their droppings than almost anything else we’re involved in,” said Buddy Young, director of Assembly Public Works at the lake. “People complain about how unsanitary and disgusting it is, and they’re right.”
Although there are plenty of ducks residing at the lake, geese are the main culprits when it comes to the smelly mess left on the walking paths.
One goose can deposit 3 pounds of droppings per day, Young said.
Multiply that by “a couple hundred” water fowl, and it’s easy to see the lake’s predicament.
It’s been a growing problem for several years now and the lake has tried several different approaches to reduce the goose population.
Three years ago, the Assembly even purchased a border collie named Rachel, who is trained to scare the geese by acting as a predator.
The dog has been effective, Young said, but she would be much more effective if the geese weren’t constantly waiting to be fed.
“About eight or 10 years ago we put up no feeding signs but got so much pushback we took them down,” Young said.
But the problem has escalated so much that residents bring it up at almost every community meeting.
Pat Koonts, a member of the council and longtime lake resident, walks around the lake, and the goose droppings, routinely.
“You’re not looking up at the horizon while you’re walking, you’re looking down at your feet,” she said.
Although she wishes people could continue to feed the ducks, she said one can’t be fed without also feeding the other, which is why all feeding must be banned.
But not feeding them could be beneficial to the geese as well.
“We realize that most people believe in their hearts that they are helping these geese when they feed them, but they are not. It’s disrupting their migrating instincts and the bread they’re being fed is just not nutritionally sound," Young said.
The droppings aren't the only problem geese are causing — they've also become a danger to children.
“The more of them there are, the more aggressive they become,” Young said.
The decision to ban the popular pastime was not made lightly, but both Young and Koonts agree that it’s in the best interest for the lake and all the people who enjoy it.
Young hopes this effort will encourage the geese that have become year-round residents to head South.
"This is the time of year they should be migrating and we would like for them to know it’s time to go," he said.