OAKLAND — There are geese, again, at Messalonskee Lake.
A flock that was a nuisance at the town beach was killed earlier this summer after a misunderstanding between the town of Oakland and the U.S. Department of Agriculture. The town had asked the flock of about 18 geese be removed, and news that they were ultimately killed didn’t go over well with the public.
A new flock of roughly 20 geese and goslings were spotted at the beach site Tuesday, but the town plans to look into getting rid of them without killing them.
“It’s a horror show, to tell you the truth,” Town Manager Peter Nielsen said Tuesday. “We’re wide open to solutions.”
Nielsen said he hopes to avoid a situation like that in June, when, the town corralled the geese with the help of the USDA, which later killed them because of an overabundance of the birds in the state.
Nielsen and other town officials were surprised the birds were killed, because it was their understanding they wouldn’t be.
After about a week of public backlash against the town and the USDA, the federal agency defended its stance, characterizing it as a misunderstanding.
“Wherever the misunderstanding occurred, I don’t want to repeat it,” Nielsen said, adding that the town doesn’t plan on talking with USDA after the miscommunication. “We’re not going to get into that again short of the town council telling me to do it that way.”
Nielsen said he visited the beach on his way into work Wednesday and saw the geese before heading to the office to research alternative methods to get rid of them, including predatory decoys and loud explosions to scare the birds away.
“We’re looking into one suggestion that came up during the last hubbub and that’s buying plastic decoys that look like foxes and wolves,” Nielsen said. “Our experience in the past with that is less than perfect, because anything you put out there that’s too attractive, people steal it.”
The other method Nielsen is looking in to is using a projectile that makes a loud exploding noise near the flock, hopefully scaring the geese away. That option has its negatives, also, Nielsen said.
“We’ve been hesitant because people will object to the noise,” Nielsen said. “We’re looking into what we can do that will work out better than the last attempt.”
Nielsen said town officials are researching prices of predatory decoys and are hoping to rectify the latest geese problem as soon as possible.
“It’s a difficult scenario,” Nielsen said. “Being an animal lover as I am, I’m not anxious to extinguish them. But if you’re a grandparent, like I also am, you’d like to take your grandchildren to the beach and not have them playing poop. There’s some responsibility there as well.”
Jesse Scardina — 861-9239