There is a "Poppy and Maudy" story to be told this year; but, first this Ongoing Georgetown Reservoir Saga (at least
six years now) that I've not really touched-on before:
Geese On The Wrong Side Of The Fence
4840 MacArthur Blvd. NW
Washington, DC 20007
(H) 202 625-1663
(W) 202 333-4585
Dr. Michael W. Fox
VP, Humane Society of the US
forward this missive to:
John Gamdy, Wildlife Section and/or
David Haddidean, Urban Wildlife
To whomever can help:
Following are Four Correspondences relating to the Georgetown Reservoir
and the Canada Geese residing there. This situation arises every Spring. I've been trying to find a solution for it for at
least six years, but to no avail. Tom Jacobus, Chief Engineer of the Washington Aqueduct (of which the GT Reservoir is a part),
is intractable in his stance that his only concern is Water (and not Birds). I've written to him many times and his responses
are completely unsympathetic. I gave up on him and was told I might get a better response from Ms. Lucy Lather, Chief of Public
Affairs, Baltimore Regional HQ, US Army Corps of Engineers (the caretakers of the GT Reservoir). Thus:
Blvd. NW #TR1
Washington, DC 20007-1594
202 625-1663 (H)
202 333-4585 (W)
Ms. Lucy Lather
Baltimore Regional HQ
US Army Corps of Engineers
PO Box 1715
Baltimore, MD 21203-1715
I'm writing to you about the Georgetown Reservoir in NW Washington, DC (it runs along MacArthur Boulevard
at @ the 4400-4600 blocks). You folks (Army Corps of Engineers) are the caretakers of same and as far as Water Quality is
concerned I think you're doing a fine job. But, there's a Situation that happens every late-Winter/early-Spring that is of
great concern to me (and at least 220 other concerned citizens who signed a petition I circulated the past couple of years):
Canada Geese frequent the Reservoir year-'round; but, March/April is the beginning of territory stake-out, nesting,
birthing and raising of young. For many people the Georgetown Reservoir is a fascinating Springtime microcosm of the Miracle
of Life. After the chicks hatch you'll see Families (Grandparents/Parents/small children) at the fence--some feeding bread
to the chicks; some just enjoying getting close to wild' animals (the Geese may be tame, but they're definitely not domesticated);
for some, this may be as close as they'll ever get. The fence provides protection for both parties; and certainly no harm
(just Joy) comes from these encounters. But,
There are two very dangerous aspects here:
1. When the Goslings are
newly-hatched they're so small that they can squeeze-through any link of the chain-link fence. Usually they can get back in
the same way, but there are times when they can't figure it out or they've found a larger hole to come out through and can't
find it again to get back (this is when they're a little older and can't get through just one link). The result can be Panic--you'll
see a Human trying to shoosh them back in and they can't do it and the parents on the other side are beside themselves (they
have no solutions) and sometimes the chicks will run out into the street = Real Panic...
2. Sometimes, chicks--even
larger Juvenals--find rather-large holes (which most of the time I can't figure out where they are) and when they wander through
these the parents will squeeze through, too. Now you've got a scenario with Adults and Babies on the wrong side of the fence;
along MacArthur Boulevard (which has lots of traffic). In the early phases, like I said, the chicks can manage to squeeze
back through one link; but the parents cannot. And they can't remember how they got out. And they don't have enough savvy
(or runway) to just fly back over the fence = Panic. Then a Human may come along and try to shoosh them to fly up and over
(bad idea); or somebody may be walking their dog towards them = Real Panic.
These things bother me greatly. I found
six Dead Adults in the gutters of MacArthur Boulevard last Spring and I think it unconscionable that the only answer I get
from the Chief Engineer (Tom Jacobus) or anyone else associated with the Washington Aqueduct is "It's not our problem. We
do Water Management, not Bird Management."
That's not good enough. These Geese have chosen the man-made GT Reservoir
as a safe haven for raising their young--they are blameless. Whoever made/maintains the Rez should be responsible for contingent
In times past I've been advised to call Washington Humane Society. But I know for a fact that they're
swamped with regular calls and are understaffed = they can't handle it. So, it was suggested that maybe the local Firehouse
personnel (there's a Fire Station directly across the street from the Reservoir) could help; but what can they do? They don't
have keys to the Reservoir Gates (there are three) so how are they going to get them in? The best they can do is get them
out of the street and try to corral them around to one side so at least they're not right along MacArthur Boulevard anymore
and hope that the Geese find the hole they came out of (and that's, of course, contingent on the Firemen not being on a Call
at the time). I, personally, have done a lot of this on my way to and from Work--I ride bicycle past the Reservoir at least
five days a week, usually more.
I've been promised that any major, gaping holes in the fencing would be patched-up
by Corps employees. Well, it's not being properly addressed because I found one right next to the Main Gate last year (and
got permission to patch it up myself). There probably are others and I'm afraid the same stuff is going to happen this Spring
The Real Solution is quite simple but takes Effort, Permission, and/or Cooperation: Chicken Wire (small-diameter
fencing). @ 1 1/2 feet tall. Along the bottom of the existing fencing. But, all-the-way-around = a big job. This would solve
the regular fence problem.
Some more thought has to be given to the three Gates: the Rez employees have fastened things
onto these, but it hasn't been thought-out enough, so it's sloppy. I know there's some sort of simple engineering solution
to this (flaps?), but I don't quite have it figured-out. The point is to keep the Goslings in until they're old enough to
fly. And I can't believe it's insoluble.
If Expense is a big concern for you, then I'll find those 220 signatures
(I recently moved and am not sure which box they're in) and I'll try to coordinate a Donation Fund for this purpose. If Manpower
is a problem, then I'll find Volunteers to help do it--I had an idea that if the two Elementary Schools in the neighborhood
(the Lab School and Georgetown Day School) could get involved (maybe do one section of fence at a time--a Class Project),
it would be good for the schools, good for the community, and great PR for the Army Corps of Engineers (I don't know if you
know it, but there are a lot of people who think you guys are curmudgeonsyou only do things you're own way and you won't listen
to anyone else, like Joe/Jane Public).
I wish I could have gotten myself motivated to write to you sooner (Nesting
will be happening soon--then, it's about 2-3 weeks to Hatching). I doubt the Chicken Wire idea can be acted-upon soon enough.
But, can't we figure a way for you folks to let someone in the neighborhood (the Fire Station people?) have a key to at least
the Main Gate? There's no reason why Geese have to be killed by startled/upset motorists this Spring, again. (Like I said,
C. Geese frequent the Rez year-'round; but, Spring--Gosling Season--is the only time you'll find them on-the-wrong-side-of-the-fence,
I apologize for being a potential thorn. I only want to avoid unnecessary death.
p.s. I know one way that the Geese get out sometimes and this could most
assuredly be prevented: Certain Corps employees will drive up to the Main Gate, get out of the vehicle, open the gate, drive
through and not close the gate right away = sometimes a group of Parents w/Young will be nearby and the Young will wander
through and the Parents follow and by the time the employee comes back to lock the gate the Geese are around the corner and
the employee has seen none of this... Please, as soon as they're through the gate (any gate), have them get out of the truck
and lock it againstandard procedure. Thank you.
p.p.s. I hope we're not going to have to get into a debate about "Geese
vs. People: Who Comes First?" because that choice doesn't have to be made here--apply some Chicken Wire in all the right places
and everybody wins.
p.p.p.s. I hope you have a Fine and Beautiful Spring.
The follow-up to this is that she never gave me the courtesy of a reply--she just sent my letter to Tom Jacobus
who gave me his expected, typical reply that Birds are none of his concern...
This year, I tried a different tack
and wrote to Peter Braun of the Lab School of Washington (which is located directly across the street from the GT Rez):
To: Peter Braun
Re: Georgetown Reservoir/Canada Geese
I'm the guy who can't stop
worrying about Springtime at the GT Reservoir (Canada Goose Goslings squeezing through fence-links and forgetting how to get
back in = Panic for the parents on the inside and Danger Of Being Killed for the Goslings on the out).
I tell myself
every year that I'm going to solve this thing and I never can. I've tried everything, except: Kids. Can we bring Lab School
and/or Georgetown Day School Kids into this situation?
As I've told you before, the Real Answer is fairly simple:
1 ½ foot-tall small-mesh fencing at the bottom of the GT Rez Fencing (but it must go all the way around the perimeter).
suggested this many times to the Washington Aqueduct people (US Army Corps of Engineers) and they always reject it ("the current
fencing is more than adequate").
Can we do a Letter Writing Campaign? What? I dont know the Next Step, here. Can you help?
It would be a Win/Win for all parties if we could finally Solve This Issue.
Please call me soon. (Nesting starts mid-to-late
April; and not long after that comes the Big Problem, once again).
An issue or two back of the Palisades Newsletter mentioned Repairs Upcoming at the GT Reservoir this Spring. The Fencing was
not on the list.
Peter told me to contact
Sharon Arbuthnot, an Ombudsperson at the Lab School (and a great 'lover of animals'). I did and she convinced a teacher there,
Ms. Ross, to get her class to write to Tom Jacobus...
Mr. Tom Jacobus
Army Corps of Engineers
5900 MacArthur Blvd.
Dear Mr. Jacobus,
We are the children from The Lab School of Washington. We love the
geese that live in the Reservoir.
We know this is not your biggest concern but we are very concerned about the geese
going in the road and getting hit by cars. We would appreciate permission to put up a barrier on the fence to help keep in
the babies or geese or other birds.
Please write to Ms. Ross' class at: The Lab School, 4759 Reservoir Road NW, Washington,
February 20, 2001
heard nothing back for a couple of months, I wrote this to Ms Ross...
Mon 5/14/01 6:41 AM
Dear Ms. Ross,
Attached you'll find a note I wrote to Sharon Arbuthnot
@ a month ago. I got no response, so I hope you can help. Canada Geese babies are now born and growing. I haven't seen them
in several days (because I was out of town celebrating my Mother's 90th birthday), but I'll be checking on them this a.m.
on the way to Work.
This is the time of year that I Worry about these critters the most. If you (or Peter Braun or
Sharon) have any 'bright ideas' I'd like to hear them. I'm at a loss as to what to do next...
I called Peter today and he said he'd ask Sharon and Ms. Ross what's going on? I presume nothing's going on...
Last night (6:45 PM) I found one of the Goslings on the wrong side of the fence, so I carefully squeezed it back in.
This a.m. I found two more Goslings on the wrong side of the fence (in a different location) and got them back in, also. But,
I fear it's only a matter of time that there'll once again be Unnecessary Death and that makes me furious! Please help me
with this. There's got to be a satisfactory answer.
Thanks for your time,
5/18/01 6 PM
A Very Encouraging Development:
Yesterday, I left a voice-message for
a Dale Solly, reporter for Channel 7/ABC TV. I was told he might be sympathetic to my cause, but I really didn't expect a
call-back. He did call back, though, and told me he's very interested! He told me to try to get some home video footage of
the situation this weekend and he'll get a crew to do a piece on it this Monday! "Really?!" Yes, really. I'll keep you posted.
This could be the Beginning of the Final Solution... I'm psyched!
Ted E Boy
Yesterday (Saturday), I patrolled the Rez 5 separate times and found no evidence of Goslings (zero).
This makes me very suspicious--I've never seen 9 Goslings just disappear in the span of 2 weeks...
Today, I patrolled
(front and back-path behind) once, and found nothing. I went back a 2nd time and just as I was about to give up I spotted
the Six Goslings and their Parents, standing on the center strip of the north-half. They spotted me, too, and swam directly
to me and my bread = very cool. So, now what? I don't have direct access to a video-cam. I'll need one to capture that random
moment when I find one on the wrong side again. I'll work on this tomorrow.
Dale Solly called. He'll take a drive over
to the Rez tomorrow to get a feel for what I'm talking about. When I get some video, we'll pick it up from there. Good. Stay
On Monday, 5/21, after
work I walk past and alongside the GT Rez and...
There are two goslings on the wrong side of the fence! I walk fast to
the Safeway phone, call Michael (cohort with a videocam), he picks me up and when we get to the Rez there are now six goslings
on the wrong side. And I can see the hole where they got out, so I start shooshing them back in and we got great video! Not
only that, though. A dude in a suit pulls up across the street, waits for traffic to go by and comes over and starts telling
me how to solve this situation. And Michael is telling the dude to get out of the picture, he's still taping. Well, this dude's
name is Ted Woynicz and he's a volunteer for the National Park Service. He noticed the goslings, too, and called Animal Rescue
to help. Well, we don't need them now (he later calls off the call), but as I'm talking with Mr. National Park Service, Michael
is filming it. It's a very good exchange and we've got some very good footage!
When I get home I leave a message for Dale
Solly (yes, we've got the video). I go across the street to the Safeway and when I get back his message is for me to have
the video tape with me at Work tomorrow. He'll call me in the a.m., find me and we'll take it from there. He wants to do the
story tomorrow! I'm not sure what time. Probably early evening newscast. I'll not know until he comes over tomorrow.
Tuesday, 5/22, Dale Solly comes by my workplace and we go over with a cameraman to the GT Rez and do some shooting. Dale says
it all went well. It'll show that night on the 6 PM newscast... But, at the last minute, it was bumped. It'll be Wednesday's
6 PM slot, for sure...
Wednesday goes by and I hear nothing from Dale, watch the news = nothing... I called Michael and
he said he'd been told it's now on the 'backburner'. Dale never called me to tell me that. I left two VM's on his answering
machine and am waiting for the courtesy of a reply (he may be out-of-town).
Where everything stands right now is: on Hold.
Wait and see.
The Piece aired on Friday May
25th. No one told me (or Michael; or anyone) so I missed it completely. I left a curt VM for Dale Solly ("You never told me
ahead of time. At least send me a copy. Thanks."). He called back and said I copped an Attituded and I'll get nothing...
Media People fun?
There's a company that tapes every single thing on the air. I call them and they'll send me a copy for
$98 and some change... !!! Ridiculous. This is the only way I'm going to ever see the Piece???
I sent a Letter of Apology
to Dale Solly (even though I don't think I was out-of-line). No response yet.
There are three new Families of CG Geese. Two with 3 Goslings, One with 4. The kids are squeezing through
every day. I keep putting them back in. Nothing's been accomplished by the TV Piece = Situation Unchanged = Ridiculous. I've
got to try other avenues, yet. Stay tuned.
A newly discovered relative signed My Guestbook and then sent me an e-mail. It's pertinent:
Name: Jeanne Fredrick
Referred By: Just Surfed In
City/Country: Viroqua, WI
Comments: Altho we've
not met, I can tell you are somewhat like your ancestor, Theodore Oluf Unseth. Email, I'll explain. Re: your geese problems,
Rochester, MN Chamber of Commerce can advise, same problem. I can tell you from experience that chicken wire fund w/volunteer
installation of same is the BEST and probably ONLY solution. (I worked for the government for 31 yrs.)
Good luck with your goose project. Better than chicken netting is the smaller stuff that we call rabbit netting. I
can't imagine ever getting any cooperation from a government agency, at least not in our lifetime.
I went to the US Army Corps of Engineers, Baltimore Regional Headquarters Website (They supervise the
Washington Aqueduct, of which the GT Rez is part). I found an e-mail address and asked for a PR Contact Person. To my amazement
I got a reply today from none other than Lucy Lather, PR Director (my letter to her--printed above--was never answered; she
just shoveled it off to Tom Jacobus and he's a dead-end)! Here's her billiant response to my concerns over the inadequate
fencing at the GT Rez:
Ms. Schultz forwarded your
message to me.
That fence is necessary to provide the customers of the Washington Aqueduct a secure water supply.
The Corps cannot be responsible for the birds that choose to feed on the grass. Although we don't want any of the birds killed
by auotos, we can't assume responsibility for their safety.
Unfortunately, the geese have become a problem and we
do not want to do anything to encourage them on the site. Consequently, we would appreciate it very much if you and others
did not feed them.
My e-mail reply:
Ms. Lucy Lather,
The only problems I see are: 1. the Fencing; and 2. maintenance workers
dealing with Goose Poop (something the public-at-large is not bothered with, providing the fencing and gates are adequately
As you are intractable in your stance re: the Fencing, perhaps you'll find the following advertisement (at
POOP BUSTER by That Inventor Guy
--picks up bird and animal droppings, dirty syringes and condoms, cigarette butts,
papers, leaves and twigs
--lightly agitates grass and lifts unwanted materials into lightweight molded plastic containers
--environmentally friendly: eliminates plastic bags
--bird droppings increase compost turnaround
--unit has no
external moving parts. air cylinders assist lid to open or close, ensuring operation safety
--fingertip hydraulic control
allows you to increase the rotor pickup speed to professionally clean walkways, parking lots and warehouse floors
of Advice from "Goose Poop" Pros:
"Wascana Centre Authority in Regina, Saskatchewan, Canada is a 2300 acre urban park
with numerous large flocks of Canada Geese. The Goose dropping sweeper designed and manufactured by That Inventor Guy has
permitted the authority to reduce the number of complaints about Canada Goose droppings considerably. The sweeper is well
built, performs very well and is relatively maintenance free. The purchase of this sweeper certainly has been a 'positive
happening' for this park organization."
Larry. T. Clay
On my way home from work I discover One Juvenal on the wrong side of the fence. I pull the bike up onto the sidewalk across
the street and I see a woman with a dog-on-a-leash coming out of a house. I ask if it's OK to prop the bike up against her
tree 'cuz I have to 'save' that Juvenal Gosling. She says: "Oh, don't bother. It'll be all right. Cananda Geese have a Digging
Claw on each foot and it'll eventually dig under the fence and get back in."
[??? I've never read nor heard of such a
thing. I've never observed such a phenomenon all the years I've been monitoring the Rez. I think she's creacked-in-the-head.]
I say, "Well, I'm going to help this one out." She goes her way and I mine.
I can't find any section of fence loose enough
to pull up so I can scoot the Juvie back under. I end up using my own Digging Claw (a small rock) and dig deep enough and
prop the fence up just enough and the Critter finally makes it back in = Whew! OK fine. I fill in the hole and unprop the
fence = back to normal.
How'd this Juvie get out? I'm 100% certain it's the Maintenance guys leaving the Main Gate wide
open, unattended--they do it all the time (I have videotape evidence to prove it).
Whatever. I'm going to make them do
Poppy and Maudy: Their 2001 Story
Poppy and Maudy reappeared late Winter, intact and looking good (Maudy had a bad limp at one point last year, but that's moot
this year = great).
After all the Normal Routine items (reintroduction, territorializing, mating behind closed
doors and nesting), Maudy was a bit early, but it was a for-real pregnancy and she yielded one lone gosling = better than
nothin'. I monitored the Family for about a week and then lost track. I think they lost their baby to a Crow: I noticed
a baby or two missing from other families as well and at first thought the Rez maintenance guys were killing them (ugh).
But, no, I think a Crow or maybe a Fox got a few this year = Normal Routine, also.
At any rate, once I lose track of
them as a Family, I lose track of them almost completely. When there are babies coming to the fence, they're the main focus.
But, once in awhile I'll be cruising along the fence and a Childless Couple will honk at me and run after me as I pass.
Sometimes I stop and then I realize "Poppy and Maudy, of course. Sorry. I get all caught up with those Babies squeezing
through the fence, etc. that I forget about you... How are you? You're looking good. It's nice to know you're stll here.
Be cool, jewels."
And so it goes. They did their Springtime bit and now it's time to get the Creche together
and supervise the Kids. The Cycle of Life continues on. It's a beautiful thing.
[Next Page = click on 'Poppy and Maudy: 2002" link below]
Poppy and Maudy: 2002