Letter to the editor

printed 07/13/2018

Editor,

Much has been written recently about the Ocean Pines Association’s transparency issues. I couldn’t agree more.

Lack of transparency has been amply illustrated by recent actions taken by OPA management that many residents find abhorrent and that were not made public until after they occurred. I’m referring to the apparent almost total destruction of the Canadian geese that have called our community home for years (and contrary to the OPA post, sources say some domestic geese and ducks were also captured and most likely destroyed).

This action was posted at 5:35 p.m. on Friday June 29 on the OPA website AFTER it occurred on Friday morning; I saw the post Monday July 2 in the weekly email the OPA sends about community activities.

I cannot find any notification in advance to the community at large about this action that would have allowed residents to express their opinions prior to the action.

The issue of the geese and their effect on our environment (and to a lesser degree their habit of crossing our roads at will and inconveniencing motorists who are in a hurry) has been debated at least for the 15 years I’ve been a resident.

Whenever the idea of killing them was brought up, it was met with a substantial backlash from residents who oppose killing the birds.

In the past the Association has tried some half-hearted and not well thought out measures to discourage the geese, with mixed results. So it seems this year, under the guidance of the new GM, the OPA chose to approve a recommendation from the Association’s Environment & Natural Assets Advisory Committee and contract with the USDA for the “removal” of the geese as part of the USDA’s wildlife damage management project.

The post goes on to say that this “project” was approved as part of the fiscal year 2018-19 budget (apparently generically listed as “wildlife control”), and that the geese that were captured and removed were humanely euthanized (killed) and donated to the MD Food Bank.

That the OPA would undertake this wholesale killing without notifying residents in advance speaks volumes about their understanding of how the community would react.

The wildlife in the community is part of what sets us apart from other neighborhoods in the area; many residents worry about what other actions against resident wildlife the OPA may determine is warranted and may take without any transparency. The OPA has shown us that in these matters they can’t be trusted.

Experts in animal care and management have pointed out two issues with this action – first, saying the geese were humanely treated cannot be accurate; if their destruction was done humanely they would not be fit for human consumption.

Second, nature abhors a vacuum; when a wild species population is completely removed from the resource rich environment they occupied, new wildlife will move in.

I contacted the MD Food Bank on July 3 and they had not been notified about this action nor had they received any goose meat donation.

I called the new OPA GM July 2. I got his voice-mail and left one of my own. As an assessment paying resident I deserve answers. As of July 5, I have not received a response.

Many in the community want to know how many waterfowl were killed, how they were killed, and what happened to their carcasses.

Things with the OPA need to change. I hope the new board has enough respect for the residents to let them know about controversial projects in advance, and enough respect for the wild creatures in our midst to allow them to co-exist with the community.

Anne O’Connell

Ocean Pines

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