Atlanta's Duck Pond cracking down on geese

Baby girl with ducks at Duck Pond in Buckhead, Atlanta My daughter Ginger and I visited the Duck Pond in the Buckhead section of Atlanta last week–just in time before neighbors started a campaign to crack down on moms and tots feeding waterfowl.

I was so delighted to find a pond where the rules were mainly about keeping dogs on leashes (and, fussily, how you have to pay if you want to take professional pictures there). I credited some kind of Southern conservatism that bucked unnecessary rules and interference with family fun. We had a fine time feeding the mallard, Peking and muskovy ducks. As usual there were Canada geese, but not an overwhelming number. The ground wasn’t covered in droppings or anything.

The place is delightful. It’s just a small pond in a residential part of Buckhead. The concierge at our hotel didn’t know of any toddler playgrounds in the area, but this space turned out to be pretty and fun.

But then when I went to look up the place, it turns out the Peach Tree Heights Neighbors just got together and decided they had too much goose poop and so would start spending a lot of money to evict the geese and will start sending out patrols to stop moms from feeding the ducks with their kids. Frown. The patrols will tell people that feeding the geese is costing the neighbors thousands of dollars. Sigh.

They plan on telling parents who happen to amble by with their kids the USDA has confirmed that the pond has “too many” geese. I’m sure that’s a great way to intimidate moms into doing what you want, but I’m not sure it’s really helping them understand the situation. That’s like arguing you should have a nose job because the cosmetic surgeon said it would look great. The USDA’s Wildlife Services unit is an infamous juggernaut of animal-killing that recommends its own killing and relocation services to anybody in the country with an animal problem. They kill about 5 million wild animals a year.

They’ll also throw out there the usual canard: that this is all for the health of the birds. This issue is 100% about people thinking goose poop is yucky. If the concern were about bread being bad for the goose’s diet, you could just suggest better foods (dog food, actual duck feed, grain or some fruits or veggies).

To its credit, the Peachtree Heights East group isn’t starting off with a mass gassing. They’ll do a little egg addling and plan to “relocate” many of their birds, despite the overwhelming evidence that this is a short-term solution at best and that they are unlikely to find anybody willing to take them.

The association cites rising costs of dredging (even though they only seem to have done it once in 2001) and $50,000 of sod in 2011. Seems to me it’s hard to pin 100% of the sod cost on Canada geese, which they claim are pulling up too many grass roots.  (Well, maybe people aren’t feeding the enough.)

Much cheaper options:

The pond already has tons of signs  and rules about off-leash dogs and is set to get more about how duck-feeding is an unnatural scourge. Meanwhile, the association is considering spending $1,500 to $4,000 to hire dogs to chase the geese away. I don’t want to sound too radical here, but wouldn’t the park be more enjoyable for everyone if they just let dogs go off leash?

If the Canada goose is the only species you want to get rid of (and if you’ve got a place called “Duck Pond,” I’d hope that was the case), just ask people not to feed that particular species. You don’t have to be an ornithologist to tell the difference between a mallard and a Canada goose. Just ask people not to feed the Canadian geese. Not that complicated.

Where to Go See Wild Animals in the US

Where to See Weird Birds

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