Friday, December 18, 2009

Wild Goose Chase

One of the greatest challenges the NSCC golf course maintenance staff faces each fall are the large number of Canada geese that make a stop here on their trip south. Actually, as golfers know, it's not the geese themselves that are the problem, but rather the mess they leave behind. It comes as no surprise that an adult goose is capable of dropping over a pound of excrement per day. Most golfers have had the unfortunate experience of walking down a fairway while hop-scotching around the mess that these geese leave behind. Even more frustrating than the mess is the physical damage geese can do to golf course putting greens. If left unattended, geese are capable of digging holes in greens as they make their feast. It is important to realize that golf courses provide the perfect environment for Canada geese. NSCC provides an endless buffet line of manicured turf and extensive waterways that are in an area without natural predators.

Research suggests that the most viable way to remove geese from a property is through humane harassment. Forms of harassment vary from course to course due to the location of each individual course. In more secluded areas, golf course managers are able to deploy devices called bangers which, as their name implies, emit a loud noise to scare off the geese. Due to the number of homes surrounding the club, this is not an option at NSCC. Instead, the golf course staff harasses geese through two primary methods. In peak periods of migratory activity, the automated irrigation system is set so that sprinkler heads pop on for seconds at a time at regular intervals throughout the night. This has proven to be successful in moving the geese off greens, tees, and fairways and into the rough and ponds. Throughout the entire year, Ziggy, our 3 year old Labrador, patrols the golf course in search of geese. Ziggy is especially effective in deterring the geese from establishing residency. This is critical in managing the goose population at NSCC. Once geese pair up and mate, they make their home by creating a nest and laying eggs. These resident geese prove to be a real problem as they are especially stubborn in leaving. By making multiple patrols each day, Ziggy does his best to remove the geese from the property in a humane manner without harming the geese. Recently, Ziggy passed his annual physical exam at the veterinarian. In fact, the vet remarked that Ziggy is the best conditioned animal that comes into his clinic. It sounds like success for both NSCC and Zig.

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