What’s happening to waterfowl at Lake J?
To the Editor:
I would like to know what is happening to the ducks and geese at Lake Junaluska.
There are signs that can be seen around the lake calling it a “bird sanctuary.” There is a federal law called the Migratory Bird Treaty Act of 1918 that is supposed to protect wild Canadian geese and mallard ducks from being pursued, hunted, taken, captured, killed or sold. The statute is to provide protection to any bird parts, including their eggs and nests.
For the second year in a row our ducks are disappearing. First to start disappearing were the female mallards, only three females remained and made it to nest and hatched their eggs, and now two of those are missing and their three ducklings have been orphaned. The male mallard population is now also in decline ... what is happening to our mallard ducks? Are they being captured, sold or killed?
And what is happening to the Canadian geese on the lake? For the second year in a row, after the first nest of goslings hatched out, the other nests around the lake (most noticeably the four nests that could be seen from the walking trail) had their eggs removed. One nest was in the process of hatching one evening when I passed, the next day there were no goslings, just egg shells and a mother goose with ruffled feathers and an injured wing. Another mother goose continued to sit on her empty nest a week after her eggs were taken. It has been heartbreaking for me to watch.
I asked a member on the Junaluska board about this and she assured me that whatever is happening is not being condoned by the conference center. It is one thing to stop the feeding of ducks and geese to reduce their numbers by having them migrate elsewhere, it is quite another to capture, kill or remove duck and goose eggs by force. Has there been a waiver issued by the United States Fish and Wildlife Service? If not, this is illegal and needs to be stopped! Dozens of mallard ducks flew into the lake this past spring and began pairing up. Where are they now? I am hoping that someone has seen something that can be reported to the Fish and Wildlife Service.
Yesterday, walking around the lake, I saw a pair of mallards (male and female) fly in and land on the lake. Instead of joy, I was immediately afraid for them and wanted to yell, “Quick! Fly away while you still can!”
I can’t honestly say that I know exactly What is happening, but I do not believe that this is nature taking its course. I just want Lake Junaluska to return to being the “bird sanctuary” that it was when we purchased our home on the lake. The wildlife here is the reason we came and it hurts my heart to see it being torn apart. As I watch the three ducklings (a pair of two and one that swims alone) trying to survive alone on the lake it makes me very sad. I guess my biggest fear now is, since it has happened two years in a row, this could happen again next year. This is wrong and something needs to be done to stop it.
Lake Junaluska resident