Killing of geese divides neighbors |

Killing of geese divides neighbors

Charles Agar
Vail, CO Colorado

ASPEN ” When they heard gunshots Sunday, July 29, Rick and Lorianne Henry looked out the window of their home near Snowmass Creek to see two men with guns and two dead Canada geese floating in their neighbor’s pond.

They called the Pitkin County Sheriff’s department and were told their neighbor, Holly McLane, had a permit to cull 60 geese that were threatening her livelihood.

“She claimed they are predatory because the feces have E. coli in them,” Lorianne Henry said. “She’s the only person in the valley who complains about this.”

A valley resident for 33 years, McLane, who owns Moon Ranch, said when she first had summer visits from migratory Canada geese she was “happy to have ’em,” but said over the years the geese population grew and the birds stopped migrating, only going as far as golf courses in Grand Junction during winter, she said.

“We’ve got just an over-abundance,” said McLane, who sees as many as 150 geese in her flood-irrigated fields and ponds. “I guess you could call it an infestation.

“I love all the creatures around here, but some of the creatures are out of balance,” McLane said.

And when she lost a few horses to colic last year, a veterinarian suggested it could have been caused by E. coli virus the horses ingested in the geese feces that litter her fields.

“I have a real working ranch,” McLane said of the property where she trains, buys, sells and boards horses. “It’s a commercial, agricultural business. I have no choice but to generate income from my property. I’m not independently wealthy as my neighbors are.”

McLane has commissioned two permitted hunters to kill the geese, but said she has no plans to eliminate all birds.

“What we want to do is bring the flock to a rational number so they can live with us,” McLane said.

The Henrys, who live on 130 acres adjacent to McLane’s ranch, said they also raise horses and have some geese on their property, but don’t feel the need to kill the birds.

The neighbors have some bad blood dating back to confusion over a neighborhood petition against magnesium chloride, the Harveys said, but the couple is concerned.

“You start aiming for a bird, you’ve got to follow them in various directions. And we are immediate neighbors,” said Rick Henry. “It’s a safety issue and it’s a moral issue as far as I’m concerned. It’s just very, very disheartening.”

McLane said the hunters use a shotgun, the safest way to kill a bird, and said all the meat is used. And since culling the first 10 birds, McLane said the geese have become “a little bit stand-offish” and the problem is getting better.

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