It wouldn’t be spring at Eaton if we didn’t have a visit from Canada geese looking for somewhere to nest and breed; our ponds and vegetation attract them. The birds are handsome, but they can be a significant nuisance. As we know, being herbivores, they produce prolific quantities of faeces which can contaminate golf gear and course machinery. Not only is this unpleasant it is also hazardous, since it carries a number of parasitic diseases such as cryptosporidium. We don’t want the geese setting up home on the course if we can help it.
However, it is a criminal offence to interfere with a goose when it is building, or sitting on, a nest. Penalty: an unlimited fine or up to 6 months imprisonment. They cannot be shot between February 1 and 31 August, although at other times they are vermin. On one regrettable occasion some years ago, a member took matters into his own hands, thereby putting himself and the Club’s reputation at risk.
We do what we can to discourage the geese from nesting by trying to keep them on the move. The late and much-missed Dexter was very helpful in that respect. The island in the middle of the 5th pond has been a preferred location for the geese, although some years ago we covered it with netting to make it unattractive. Sometimes foxes participate – we have in the past found goose eggs buried in bunkers, which had been put there by a fox.