At the meeting in Clunes on 16 July 2019, Council adopted a plan rehome geese from Lake Daylesford and to communicate this decision. This difficult decision was not made lightly and we understand that many in the community are unhappy with the decision. Along with those that are unhappy, we have received many emails and observed comments on social media from people supporting this decision to protect and enhance biodiversity and consider the welfare of these domestic animals. Domestic geese at the Lake (which have bred over time) are impacting the natural environment and reducing amenity for community members and visitors.
Following receipt of many community complaints regarding the impact of domestic geese on the biodiversity values of lake Daylesford, Council investigated the proposed relocation of these geese. This action fulfills Council’s obligations to biodiversity protection and its Sustainable Environment goal of taking steps to ‘protect, maintain and enhance biodiversity’ (supported by Council’s Biodiversity Strategy).
It is also consistent with supporting the objectives of the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act 1986 where abandonment of domestic animals is an offence. Effort has been taken to identify a contractor with a high degree of experience in carrying out similar moves and appropriate rehousing of domestic waterfowl.
Concerns raised include:
- Retention of geese suggests approval or indifference by the land manager that may promote further dumping of unwanted animals.
- That geese are damaging the natural environment and their retention is inconsistent with the values of Lake Daylesford as a wildlife reserve.
- That inaction now will be a source of increased future costs.
The impact on the visitor experience of geese through threat displays to protect goslings during breeding season has also been relayed by community.
A detrimental impact of the geese on Lake vegetation and water quality is expected where the shoreline of the lake will become fouled by geese droppings and vegetation will be eaten down or trampled. The longer term expected algal blooms and turbidity is likely to kill submerged aquatic vegetation making the lake unsuitable for Black Swans, and other waterfowl previously residents on the Lake.
The primary objective of relocating domestic waterfowl is to allow Lake Daylesford to support a diversity of local wild birds and natural vegetation and to avoid impairing water quality, thus increasing the amenity and ecological function of the Lake. Animal welfare is another primary concern owing to the compromised health and safety of domestic animals in a ‘wild’ context. Related to this is the perception of tolerance for a criminal act; the abandonment of domestic animals, as identified in the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act 1986 Section 9h.
Secondary considerations include the amenity of the Lake for community members who are intimidated by the protective displays of the geese during breeding season. There is also an impact on amenity and safety of Lake surrounds caused by geese droppings and the financial impact of the obligation on Council to clean walkways and jetties.
The following recommendation was adopted at the July ordinary meeting of Council (16 July 2019):
- Acknowledges the community concerns and the impact of the domestic waterfowl on the ecological function of the lake.
- Approves the removal and re-homing of the domestic geese and waterfowl from Lake Daylesford and the proposed community engagement
- Approves the installation of signage at Lake Daylesford to reinforce the messages and encourage responsible animal ownership.