State closes beaches to allow geese hunt


State closes beaches to allow geese hunt

Special Geese Hunting Zones

Nine state park beaches in southern Ohio will be closed on weekdays until 10 a.m., from Sept. 2-Sept. 15, for geese hunting.

Caesar Creek, 513-897-3055

Cowan Lake, 513-897-3055

Eastfork, 513-734-4323

Stonelick, 513-734-4323

Rocky Fork, 937-393-4284

Paint Creek, 937-981-7061

Hueston Woods, 513-523-6347

Shawnee, 740-858-6652

Adams Lake, 937-544-3927

Source: Ohio Department of Natural Resources

The newspaper inquired about plans to begin the early season on resident Canada geese on Labor Day in response to questions from a reader. State officials acknowledged that they decided to delay the beach hunting until after the holiday as a result of our interviews.

The state has delayed a special hunting season on geese at the beach at Caesar Creek State Park and eight other parks in southern Ohio until after Labor Day.

The two-week early season, during which hunters reduce the population of migrant Canada geese at select state park beaches, was to begin Monday, the Labor Day holiday.

Nathan Steiner, park manager for Caesar Creek and Cowan Lake state parks, said Tuesday, “That was a mistake on our part. We were trying to think quickly and out of the box.”

According to state officials, Ohio began the beach hunting program after exhausting alternative remedies to management of the geese, which live year-round at the parks, rather than migrating. Coyote decoys, specially trained dogs and noise-making devices all failed to shoo away the growing flocks, Hoffer said.

Health concerns are a key factor.

“One of the most major challenges is goose poop,” said Eileen Corson, ODNR public information officer. “Goose poop is a major source of bacteria.”

The decision to delay the season received a muted reaction from Becky Shindler, an animal rights advocate who noticed the signs at the Caesar Creek beach.

“That’s one less day of death. I would like them to adopt one of the non-lethal methods,” Shindler said.

On Monday, Don Curtis and Melodie Redman of Gratis said they were surprised to see one of the signs, push-pinned to a post near where they were sunbathing.

“I actually couldn’t believe it,” said Redman.

The signs were taken down Tuesday.

The early season was to open on Labor Day at nine parks in the district, including Caesar Creek, Cowan Lake and Hueston Woods. It was expanded to Shawnee, Eastfork and Paint Creek park beaches for the first time.

Now, on weekdays from Sept. 2-15, hunters issued special licenses will be permitted to hunt on the beaches until 10 a.m., officials said.

The newspaper inquired about the program in response to questions about signs posted at the Caesar Creek about hunting.

“ATTENTION: Beach will be open to goose hunting. Permit Holders Only. Sept. 1-15,” the signs said.

State officials gave different explanations for the delay.

“We actually caught it a couple days ago,” Steiner said, and they were contacting special permit holders to notify them of the delay.

However, Shannon Hoffer, assistant district director assistant district director for the Ohio Department of Natural Resources Division of Parks and Preserves, said the season was delayed because of inquiries from this newspaper and WHIO-TV.

“You guys keep calling us asking us why we are having it on Labor Day,” Hoffer said. Earlier Tuesday, Hoffer said he was considering delaying the special season.

The early season has been held for decades at state parks around Ohio to to diminish the populations of resident Canada geese, officials said.

Signs are posted and barricades placed along entrances to the beach parking lots, officials said.

“We don’t want goose hunters out on our beaches when they are full of people,” Hoffer said.

Allowing the beach geese populations to grow would lead to greater problems, Hoffer said.

“There are times we have to close the beaches because people can’t swim there (due to water quality problems),” he said. “What we are trying to do is create a fun, safe recreation environment.”

Hoffer said the hunts were started in response to complaints from visitors about the geese, but that this was the first year there had been any complaints about the hunting.

The birds also contaminate the lake water and wear on the park lands and facilities, officials said.

“As everybody knows they can become overpopulated,” said Steve Lee, manager of the U.S. Army Corp of Engineers, which is leased to the state. “The geese are becoming an issue.”

Hunters and other park visitors have safely co-existed for decades during hunting seasons, Lee said. Other hunting goes on around the park, although zones are established to minimize hazards, he said.

Lee said hikers concerned about getting too close to hunting can use the Gorge Loop Trail below dam.

“That’s never a hunting zone,” Lee said.

Even then, Lee encouraged non-hunting park visitors to be aware hunters could be nearby and consider wearing orange vests.

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