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Too many geese in city park, rich boys don't have any thing to hunt...hmmm

August 05, 1997

Too many geese in city park, rich boys don't have any thing to hunt...hmmm

Two incredibly huge problems arose in the state of Maryland over the past two weeks that need to be addressed:

1. Hagerstown has too many geese.

2. The rich boys of Baltimore don't have anything to hunt.

Am I missing something here? Isn't the solution obvious?

On one hand we have City Park, where administrators say too many rooks are spoiling the broth. Or, actually, they are creating something of a broth out of the lake, and I'm not talking about the type of broth you would wish to sip on a winter's day when you have a headcold.

The geese, some 300 strong, are also ripping up plants and soil and making a general shambles of the park's ecology.

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So the park's caretakers are revisiting the plan to either shake goose eggs or crack down on the sale and feeding of cracked corn, which discourages the birds from leaving the park to search for food.

(I can relate to the geese on this matter. If someone would leave a hamburger on my doorstep every three hours I'd never leave the house.)

But a main draw of the park - one of the finest municipal parks in the nation, I would argue - is the almost ritual-like feeding of the geese. What Hagerstown youngster hasn't scattered some corn for this eager, feathered audience?

Unfortunately, when the geese multiply and run roughshod over the grounds the gorgeous flora and fauna deteriorates.

If we continue to run this cornmeals on wheels program for waterfowl the park workers may need to shake goose eggs so they won't hatch and create more beaks to feed.

The last time this was proposed, however, 6,500 people signed a petition in protest and the plan was scrapped.

Personally, I don't like the egg-shaking plan either. I think if you wish to reduce the goose population it should involve, but not necessarily be limited to, gunfire.

That's where all the great white hunters from Baltimore come in. A group of them, acting through the Izaak Walton League (you know the Izaak Walton League, that everyman's conservation group that caters to the common hunter, provided said common hunter can ante up a $10,000 membership fee) will lease the Woodmont lodge and hunting grounds near Hancock to use as a rural retreat where they will puff fine cigars, sip warm brandies and recount tales of how they blew away Bambi the day before.

Coincidentally a somewhat similar situation occurred about five years ago when there was a bill to restrict duck hunting on some Eastern Shore property that the elite fox hunting and lawn tennis set wished to keep to themselves.

I really didn't see anything wrong with the plan, but a Montgomery County senator, I swear, stood up on the senate floor and said "But where will all the poor, inner-city children go to shoot ducks if we restrict access to this land?"

Somehow the idea of the boyz in the 'hood donning their leather-patched shooting jackets, lighting their pipes and loading their Welsh Springer Spaniels and Spinoni Italianos into the Eddie Bauer-edition Ford Explorer for a weekend at the hunt club (or wanting to, for that matter) was more than I could picture. Of course it could have been some new Clinton initiative: Midnight duck shoots.

So listen. Crate up the excess of ducks and ship them to Woodmont. These ducks are tame, so even the city boys will have favorable odds for bagging some game - just like the New York City "hunters" who hang out by town dumps in the Adirondacks for the purpose of shooting a graying, portly old bear.

The Baltimore hunters will be happy. The geese will be dead. The park will thrive. Is this a perfect solution or what?

Tim Rowland is a Herald-Mail columnist.

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