Local News

Waterfowl Might Run Afoul at Lake Wheeler

Posted April 16, 2007
Updated April 17, 2007

— Raleigh leaders are investigating whether waterfowl could be responsible for elevated bacteria levels at Lake Wheeler that have curtailed activities.

Two sites at the lake recently tested show high levels of bacteria. Levels spiked last June, after eight million gallons of sewage spilled from a Cary line into the lake's main water source and forced park officials to block off the water for eight days.

Raleigh Public Works officials said they can't say for sure if the current elevated levels were caused by last year’s sewage spill, but it’s being investigating as a possibility.

Officials are also looking into other sources, such as bird droppings. Public Works employees have begun counting birds at all the city’s waterways.

"The average goose could put out one to three pounds (of waste) daily,” said Richard Costello, of the Raleigh Parks and Recreation Department. “You start adding that up (and there could be a problem.)”

The potentially harmful bacteria have kept visitors from enjoying some activities at the lake several times in past months.

"The restrictions that are still in place are primary contact, meaning skiing tubing, kayaking -- really anything that will involve someone being completely submerged in the water,” Costello said.

"We would have hoped that it would have been back and recovered,” Costello said. “Right now we're not wanting to rule anything out, all possible causes for continued elevated levels."

Costello said it's too early to say if certain birds will be removed, but that option hasn't been ruled out.

As for the sewage spill in Cary, there's still no official word on how much state officials will fine the town in connection with the spill. In October of 2006, the Division of Water Quality recommended a $45,000 fine, but Cary town leaders are appealing that fine.

Town officials hired two consultants who later said a private contractor was to blame for the spill. Cary officials are currently in negotiations with the contractor over the cost of the cleanup.


Please with your WRAL.com account to comment on this story. You also will need a Facebook account to comment.

Oldest First
View all
  • TomStarling Apr 19, 2007

    The collies are completely ineffective. While they will get the geese to leave while they are there, the second they leave the birds will be right back. You would have to be running the dogs constantly for the rest of eternity.

    There are a variety of products available that can solve and bird problem situation. Any combination or stand-alone use of visual scare devices, taste aversions, visual scare devices, sonic repellers or ultrasonic disrupters are highly effective. In this situation, I would recommend GooseChase, a taste aversion that you put on the grass that makes it taste unbearable to the geese. They won't be able to eat it, so they will leave.

    Feel free to visit http://www.bird-x.com for more information.

  • colliefan Apr 17, 2007

    Let some collies loose around them. They won't hurt them but they will chase the geese so much they won't back.

  • anonemoose Apr 17, 2007

    Moonlodge, many kudos on the proper term for a flock of them thar birds.

  • I hear voices Apr 17, 2007

    First of all let me state that I do support progress, however when you invade the natural habitats of wildlife you have to deal with the results. Everyone wants a waterfront home but none of the wildlife that comes with it. Get real.

  • themoonlodge Apr 17, 2007

    I am sure that the sewage spill is part of the problem. However, I totally agree that the Canada Geese are also overwhelming the lakes and ponds in this area. I live in Oxxford Hunt in Cary, which has a seven acre lake. When my children were small, a mating pair of geese nested on the bank behind our house and had a dozen babies. At the time, it was thrilling. They had no natural preditors and they flourished.

    Here is the problem. Young geese return to their place of birth to mate and nest, each pair producing a half dozen to a dozen more geese. By 2005, our tiny lake was supporting over 100 geese. Some of the apartment dwellers across the lake regularly fed them and soon other geese showed up.

    Over the past two years, the community has put signs IN the lake asking people not to feed the birds. A few of us have tried running the geese off, destroying nests, fencing off favorite nesting areas. These are not migrating birds. They are residents and they are a health risk

  • Steve Crisp Apr 17, 2007

    Wanna get rid of geese? Ever heard of bird bowling? Hey...if they're walking around a parking lot, you never know when one of them may have a little accident.

    And someone please tell me just what kind of life someone may have to endure to even know how much crap comes out of an average goose per day?

  • CherryDarling Apr 16, 2007

    Environmentalists are so overly concerned with wildlife and not concerned enough about HUMAN life.

    My apartment complex is near a small pond where the ducks and geese hang out.

    The birds are consistently making the most disgusting messes on the walkways and in the parking lots. After my apt complex told me I was SOL, I called the Health Dept, Animal Control, and at least a dozen other government agencies and was told by all that they are a protected species, blah, blah, blah...

    I guess someone would have to drop dead from some nasty bird disease or something before they'll all care.

  • anonemoose Apr 16, 2007

    "The average goose could put out one to three pounds (of waste) daily,” said Raleigh Public Works director Richard Costello. “You start adding that up (and there could be a problem.)”

    I guess those geese aren't laying golden pellets......

  • poohperson2000 Apr 16, 2007


    Please tell me how you really feel.

  • Red Apr 16, 2007

    It's not directly on their flight path. For many geese, it's the end of their flight path. And when you can't legally do anything to get rid of these filthy animals, you end up with crap on more than just the waterway. You don't have to call them anymore to feed them. If they see anything in your hand they think is food, they'll swarm. I hate these geese and the people that feed them. Filthy animals.