As much as Montreat seems changeless for some, the one constant at the conference center is this: no two days are alike, and the opportunities and challenges sometimes present themselves from the most unanticipated angles. Stuff happens.
I recently spent a morning, for example, reading up on Canada geese because a family of them has decided to summer in Montreat around Lake Susan. While Canada geese are found in Canada, of course, they are also prevalent in the United States. Numbers of Canada geese were in serious decline in the early 20th century, but a recovery program has proved successful. Thanks to the hard work of cooperating governments, conservation organizations, and other individuals, and to a lack of natural predators, among many factors, Canada geese are now relatively well represented in several sections of the U.S. In the south, in fact, some geese are now year-round, non-migratory residents of public parks, golf courses, and other places where water and grass are plentiful.
We are aware that our Montreat geese this summer are a source of interest to us and perhaps especially to our children and grandchildren. Many have observed the geese during the summer’s first few weeks, watched them nurture their goslings, and generally make themselves at home. We also are aware that the geese are a nuisance to some who want to enjoy the lake area in other ways. The birds leave droppings just about everywhere they go, are not particularly deferential or polite, and can be rather confrontational when approached.
As we share Montreat with the geese this summer, here are some commandments to live by:
- Thou shalt not befriend. Don’t approach them. Startled or angered geese have been known to attack other animals, including pets and people. Those wishing to observe should do so at a respectful distance.
- Thou shalt not feed. For a variety of reasons, don’t feed the geese. This is a resilient species fully capable of meeting its nourishment needs on its own.
- Thou shalt not kill. Our Montreat geese are a protected species in accordance with various state and federal laws. It is unlawful to hunt or kill them except as permitted in very rare circumstances. (Perhaps you think it’s silly that I am pointing this out – I hope that it is, too.)
Let me add a few bits of other information. We are aware of the mess on the dam and around Moore Center and we will do our best to get ahead of it as we are able. And yes, we are researching humane ways to deal with the situation for this and future summers. Also, if you see our staff engaging with the geese, they are probably attempting to shoo the geese away from heavily trafficked areas and Moore Center Field. This is lawful activity that isn’t harming the geese; during some parts of our schedule, it will be quite necessary.
And so, along with the shy bear whose sighting delights us until it frightens us, and the deer who appears like a beautiful statue at the kitchen window (and returns late that night to dine on your newly planted hostas), this summer’s geese bring both attending wonders and annoyances. Enjoy what you can, and if the presence of goose poop occasionally seems a little intrusive, just remember that sometimes…well, stuff happens.
Finally, as some of you know, I am serving on a Town Committee to update Montreat’s Comprehensive Plan. To support our work, your input is needed on important subjects regarding the future of Montreat. Please take a few minutes now to complete this short survey. CLICK HERE to take the survey.
President, Montreat Conference Center