Weekly NewsCast

Water temperature: creek arms, 67 degrees; main channel, 68 degrees

Water clarity: fairly clear

Catch ratings, by species:

Black bass, 5; White bass, 2;

Crappie, 3; Catfish, 2

 

 

Too much of a good thing

I thought this was a good time to tell you the rest of the story about the experiment with the big geese at Theodosia. As with anything new, nobody knew what to expect, but never in our wildest dreams did we expect the results we got. 

The first year or two, we would get excited to hear reports of a pair of geese with little ones. Lots of pictures were taken with one adult goose in front and one in the rear, sometimes with only one gosling between. Other times as many as eight or 10 would come swimming around the dock. This was more than we hoped for, and if you could have seen how the little goslings got from their nests in the wash tubs to the ground below, you would have thought, as we did, that the fall would have killed them. With the mother’s encouragement, they would stand at the tub rim, and after the most daring one jumped, the rest would follow and hit and bounce off the ground. Don't forget that these tubs were 10 to 15 feet in the air! The goslings had enough down that they were able to survive the jump.

They were then led to the water, and their next lesson was to swim with the adults. The hope was that the geese would remain wild. The Conservation Department provided food plots above the bridge and in Turkey Creek, hoping the geese would fly to feed morning and evening, but the human factor came into play. From the early days, people would gather to watch the geese, and soon the geese lost their fear of humans. The next step was that the people started feeding them, and the young learned early where the food line was. Every evening a local man by the name of Bill Goff would pull his pickup truck down to the water's edge near the swimming beach and honk his horn. This was the dinner bell, and it didn't take long for the geese to understand this. The sad thing was that Bill feeding the geese got others to join in, and what they didn't understand was that the geese became dependent on the food offered to them – and their numbers increased by leaps and bounds. 

In the summer months the geese would come into the campground looking for food, and that became a real dangerous problem. The geese would eat and leave a small pile of geese droppings. When you are talking about 30 to 50 little piles, it covered lots of ground. It got so bad that the Corps put up signs not to feed the geese, but Bill Goff was older and didn't take orders well. So a more drastic move had to be made. Even though the geese were almost tame, they were still considered wild and therefore protected by the federal government; so they had to be involved in any method used to fix the problem. 

It took a couple of years of the ever increasing population, but the US Army Corps and the US Fish and Wildlife Service got together and set up a controlled hunting season for the Theodosia park each fall. This was a strong move, but all other efforts had failed to solve the problem. Bill Goff did his best to interfere with anybody legally hunting in the park, but it worked, and the geese dispersed. Although they are still in the area, they aren't a problem anymore. The sad thing is that Bill Goff did what he thought was good for the geese, but just the reverse came true when the hunting season became a realty. 

Join me next week for an update on the White River Valley Tournament, and check out our new website: tmrbullshoals.com.