The geese of Canterbury Lake won't have to duck this year.
After last year's public furor over plans to kill some of the dozens of Canada geese that have come to call the community in western Henrico home, the Canterbury Lake Association has decided to not ruffle any feathers this year.
"It's not worth crossing that bridge again at this time," says Chiles Cridlin, association president. "We're going to have to live with them right now."
Canada geese, once migratory, have moved permanently into the area. The U.S. Department of Agriculture estimates more than 140,000 now live in Virginia. While many people like to watch them and their goslings waddling along the water's edge, the birds destroy lawns in search of food; besides, each goose produces three pounds of slimy poop a day.
Last summer the association voted to have the USDA, which handles such things, round up and kill the geese while they were molting, or shedding feathers, and unable to fly. Some neighbors objected — preferred execution methods include gassing with carbon monoxide and "cervical dislocation," or neck breaking — and soon a wave of publicity and public scorn fell upon the residents of Canterbury Lake. The Richmond Times-Dispatch ran articles about the geese. The Richmond Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals set up an online petition that received more than 1,700 signatures from as far as the Czech Republic, India and France.
"I don't think anyone anticipated the backlash that we received," Cridlin says.
The USDA's Scott Barras confirms that his office hasn't had a call to investigate the geese of Canterbury Lake. And since the geese's molting season will be over soon and the geese will be able to fly, Barras adds, it looks like they'll live to see another season.
"That's great news!" exults Luke Floyd. He and his wife, Patricia, moved to Canterbury Lake six years ago and spearheaded the save-the-geese campaign. They freely acknowledge feeding the geese to keep them on their property and out of harm's way. Recently they've worked with researchers from Virginia Commonwealth University who invented a sound-deterrent system to manage their movements.
Despite the reprieve, Patricia Floyd says she worries about what will happen next year when the geese molt again. "These beautiful creatures need to be protected," she says.
That's next year. This year, says the association's Cridlin, "The geese win."