Letters to the Editor

Wildlife disappearing from Lake Junaluska

To the Editor:

Since its inception Lake Junaluska has been a beacon and home to some of God’s most beautiful creatures.

Normally our lake is full of life. Large egrets, blue spotted herons, buffleheads, ringnecks, mallards, muscovy, mergansers, coots, scaulp and more. But for two years now the lake is all but barren. We are left with some geese, a handful of mallard ducks and a couple cormorants. Only two or three of our swans come out onto the main lake. Without the coots and small ducks that supply their diet we risk losing our majestic bald eagles.  

People come here to see the unique beauty and abundance of life. Tourists, bird watchers, wildlife lovers and photographers come here year-round. They stay in our hotels, have retreats, camps and business conventions. All because of our unique, special lake and its wildlife. 

The loss of our wildlife began two years ago. After more then a decade of successful use, the feeding stations all around the lake were closed. The swans are now human fed. The other animals have been denied supplemental food. They are being physically barred from food while watching our swans provided food often by hand. Without support the others have left in search of better, reliable food sources.

The swans are not the only beautiful creatures on the lake. The other species are equally God’s creation and have value and worth. We should not be supporting one species while denying all others. 

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I contacted N.C. Wildlife. I spoke with two state officials, a local official, a biologist and a migration specialist. They all agreed that handfeeding swans should stop and reopening feed stations could be done safely and wildlife could return in time. 

In general there are mixed opinions about utilizing feed stations. There is, however, strong support from wildlife experts when other resources are limited and closure results in loss of wildlife in that area. The feeding stations at Lake Junaluska clearly supported a vast variety of animals now gone. 

Some are concerned with animal waste created by these amazing creatures. Yes, wildlife can be messy. Lake Junaluska could provide more consistent landscaping, grass cutting and washing walkways to help manage it. 

If we do nothing then our visitors and future generations will no longer be able to see the magic this lake once had (just two or three years ago!) and could have again. 

That would truly be heartbreaking. 

Speak up for Lake Junaluska wildlife. 

Stephanie Wiener

Lake Junaluska

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