Tuesday, April 15th, 2014
By Kathy Thompson
St. Henry takes aim at gunning down problem with geese
  ST. HENRY - Selected hunters, under strict regulations, will help the village eliminate the Canada geese problem at the wastewater plant.
Council members Monday night approved an emergency ordinance to allow early geese hunting by permit only at the 60-acre lot and surrounding ponds along Cooper Drive. Village employees initially will be tapped for the job, officials said.
Town rules prohibit the discharge of firearms within the village limits. The ordinance will allow the shooting of BB guns, air guns, firearms, slings, bow and arrows, or crossbows only at the water treatment facility.
Stringent regulations will apply, according to village administrator Ron Gelhaus.
"It's not going to be a free-for-all," he said. "There are strict rules. We don't want this to be anything but a way to convince the geese not to come to the plant."
A few years ago the birds began flocking to the area. Their feces are often spread throughout the town by trucks that come and go at the nearby Cooper Farms turkey processing plant, Gelhaus said.
The overpopulation of geese also has affected the water quality of the ponds, and soil and bank erosion, he added. The geese tend to nest near the roadways, which could result in traffic accidents or injuries, Gelhaus said.
Various methods already have been tried to scare the birds away: a dog was used to chase them, but the geese just flew into the water and waited for the canine to leave or become tired. Noise from shooting a .22-caliber gun loaded with blanks didn't scare them either, Gelhaus said.
"They just ignore it," he said.
Council's decision Monday night was the result of discussions with the Ohio Department of Natural Resources Division of Wildlife. Ohio law allows for early hunting at different times during the year with limits on the number of geese per permit and hunter, Gelhaus said.
The village's restrictions state,
• the firearm used must be registered in the person's name.
• the person wishing to discharge the firearm shall obtain a Goose Shooting Permit from ODNR.
• permission must be obtained from the village annually and will be valid for times designated by the village administrator.
• only geese and other waterfowl may be hunted at the treatment plant.
• no geese or waterfowl may be hunted past property lines, even if the goose is in the air.
• the person hunting must collect any bird that has been killed.
• the person hunting will be liable for any and all damages caused by him or her shooting the firearm.
• the village administrator has the right to revoke permission to hunt at any time.
• a fine of $150 may be imposed for violations.
"We've found three pairs nesting already," Gelhaus said. "Right now we've got our own employees that will be doing (the) shooting. We want this to be very controlled. We're not going to let it get out of hand or have a bunch of people out there shooting."
Council members also,
• heard first reading on an ordinance to contract with the Mercer County Commissioners for ambulance service. The contract is the same as last year's; the cost cannot be more than $7,814.94 or less than $6,067,50.
• learned pre-sale swimming tickets can be purchased at the pool from 9 a.m.-2 p.m. May 3 at $80 for a family and $45 for an individual.
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