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Police ask golf-course workers to stop shooting geese

Posted at 6:08 PM, Jul 17, 2015
and last updated 2015-07-17 18:08:21-04

Chesapeake, Va. - Chesapeake Police have asked workers at Cahoon Plantation Golf Club to stop shooting Canada geese until officials figure out if the shooting is legal.

On Wednesday, a worker armed with a shotgun killed 11 geese just after 4 p.m., according to witnesses and police. One witness said it happened in sight of children.

Many took to the course's Facebook page on Friday to condemn the decision.

"It makes me sick," one woman wrote. Another added, "There are so many more humane ways to deal with this issue."

Still others wrote that they supported the course and its workers.

Cahoon Plantation has a U.S. Fish and Wildlife permit that allows workers to kill, with a shotgun, up to 30 Canada geese a year. But a copy of the permit, obtained by NewsChannel 3, says the document is only valid if firing the gun is legal in the city.

Police told us today that ranking officers and the lawyers in the city attorney's office are poring over Chesapeake's often-confusing gun laws that are spelled out in 641 words. The law tightly restricts outdoor gunfire in the city's northern section, but is more permissive the rural southern section, where Cahoon Plantation is located. However, a passage in the law that appears to apply to the entire city says guns can't be fired within 150 yards of "any building, dwelling, street, sidewalk, alley, roadway or public land or public place within the city limits."

Cahoon Plantation's fairways wind past hundreds of houses off Cedar Road.

Course officials did not return a call from NewsChannel 3, but today sent us a statement that also appears on the course's Facebook page.

The course management wrote that they try to control the goose population with dogs, noisemakers, and egg destruction.  The statement went on to say, "As a last resort and with proper permitting, we do use lethal methods to help control these populations... This lethal method is carried out within all local codes concerning discharging a firearm..."

The statement said workers did not mean to offend anyone with the shootings, but the geese have become out-of-control "pests."

"Typically we spend thousands of dollars each year to inhibit, deter and remove geese from the property as well as repair damages caused by their feeding and disgusting defecation," the statement said.

Here is the full statement posted on NewsChannel 3's Facebook Page:

In response to the recent article concerning the removal of geese from our property, we first want to assure everyone we did not mean to offend anyone with our procedures. It is our goal to provide a clean, quality golf course for our patrons. It is only fair you have the whole story to determine your stance on this issue.

Not unlike other open space recreational areas, airports and agricultural properties, Cahoon Plantation Golf Course battles conflicts with nuisance Canada geese. A pest is defined as “any living thing that is undesirable, or causes injury or harm to people, property or the environment”. Clearly, these non migratory, resident Canada geese are a pest to this golf course environment.

Being professional stewards of the land we manage, we incorporate an integrated pest management system for all of the pests we encounter in the golf course environment. Before we ever apply any chemical pesticide, we exhaust every possible cultural practice to reduce population of pests to an acceptable threshold level. This is also true of controlling the Canada geese pests.

At Cahoon Plantation, we use multiple integrated pest management procedures for geese eradication. We have two Border Collies that run the course every day as a form of harassment. We allow grasses around ponds to grow tall to eliminate succulent browse and the clear visibility geese need to see predators. Frightening methods are also utilized through noise makers and screamers. In spring months we constantly scout for nests and “addle” eggs to prevent offspring. Typically we spend thousands of dollars each year to inhibit, deter and remove geese from the property as well as repair damages caused by their feeding and disgusting defecation.

As a last resort and with proper permitting, we do use lethal methods to help control these populations. We find it most effective when used in conjunction with all the other forms of integrated pest management. This lethal method is carried out within all local codes concerning discharging a firearm and US Department of Agriculture, US Fish and Wildlife Service, Virginia Game and Inland Fisheries recommendations. It is an effective and legal method to eradicate a nuisance pest.

Management
Cahoon Plantation Golf Course

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Chesapeake golf course worker shotguns geese