Deer, geese may add to Lake Granbury’s E. coli pollution woes (Posted By Mike Mecke)

Comment: this also refers to many town park areas on creeks or rivers with way too many domestic ducks and geese eating up the riparian grasses and pooping in turf and water, don’t do it – catch and eat or take home. Nasty and bad for walking, swimming, fish or drinking water supplies. Mike
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News Release
March 17, 2010
Writer(s):
Robert Burns, 903-834-6191,rd-burns@tamu.edu

Contact(s):Brent Clayton, 979- 845-4116, jbclayton@ag.tamu.edu

GRANBURY – - Whether bears poop in the woods remains a rhetorical question, but it’s a fact that wildlife poop adds to E. coli woes in Lake Granbury, according to a Texas AgriLife Extension Service expert.

“Humans desire to have nature in their lives,” said to Brent Clayton, an AgriLife Extension assistant working closely with Lake Granbury water quality issues. “We go on trips to parks, plant flowers and put out birdseed to attract the wildlife. Unfortunately attracting wildlife, though it may seem beneficial, can be detrimental to our resources when done in an urban setting near water supply sources like reservoirs.”

Lake Granbury is an 8,300-acre impoundment of the Brazos River. It is named for the town of Granbury, which is 33 miles southwest of Forth Worth. Runoff from thousands of acres drain into this lake, including all or parts of Erath, Hood, Palo Pinto and Parker counties.

As the area has become more urbanized, levels of E. coli and fecal coliform bacteria, as well as incidences of algae blooms, have risen dramatically in the lake, according to Clayton.

Watershed protection plans have focused on sources of pollution from livestock and the estimated 9,000 private septic systems bordering the lake and the streams that feed it. But waters tests show that wildlife also contributes to the problem, he said.

Specific strains and concentrations of E. coli and other bacteria differ depending upon where the lake is tested, Clayton said. But according to a draft of a watershed protection plan, tests at one location showed that septic tank sewage contributed about 21 percent of E. coli, livestock sources about 15 percent, and avian and other wildlife sources about 25 percent. More than 40 percent came from “unidentified” sources.

“One adult Canada goose can excrete one pound of feces every day,” Clayton said. “You can only image the poundage involved with a large gaggle of geese.”

Humans are accomplices to pollution resulting from wildlife waste in several ways, he said. One is by feeding of wildlife, including deer and geese.

Given a free lunch and lacking predators to keep their population in check, wildlife can become more numerous than is typical of the area.

Feeding draws wildlife to a specific location and makes them more reliant on food supplied by people. Wildlife will naturally forage for food over a broad landscape, but supplemental feeding can concentrate them in a smaller part of the landscape and thus concentrate the amount of waste, Clayton said.

There are many side effects of wildlife overpopulation, and pollution of lakes and streams with feces is one.

“Though reducing wildlife waste in itself may not make the lake’s water perfect, it is one of the essential small things that everyone can do,” Clayton said. “We do not want to eliminate wildlife from our lives. They provide a bit of nature that most of us crave. However, with the health of Lake Granbury in jeopardy, it is important that we maintain numbers of wildlife at a sustainable level to provide a good environment for both animals and people.”

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