Local couple in do-or-die battle with avian pests

Geese overcome early deficit to assume lead.

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Illustration by Kate Feiffer.

The 2018 Goose Season is well underway, and for many Islanders that means nothing less than open warfare. For those Vineyarders living near water, the images are all too familiar: sharp-beaked, long-necked, birdlike creatures waddling from yard to yard in pairs — or worse, gaggles — digging away at the emerging grass, and pooping one-third of their body weight every day.

Plus they think they own the place.

For one such Island family — which chooses to remain anonymous for fear of reprisals — the battle is personal. “They have it in for me,” said Mr. X of Oak Bluffs. “Maybe it’s all the goose egg addling I did in the early 2000s. Or they could be mistaking me for our neighbor, who tries to run them down with his car. Either way, it’s not fair.”

Bottom line: For Mr. X and his wife, the 2018 season has been a crushing disappointment.

“We looked at a lot of film this winter, and made some game plan adjustments,” he said. “We had a big lead on Opening Day, and were feeling good about ourselves. It’s been downhill ever since.”

We were interrupted by a ruckus on the far side of the house. “That’s Sector Six!” shouted Mr. X. Grabbing a nearby rake, he sprinted around the corner and out of sight. Moments later he reappeared, breathing heavily and scraping a foul-looking substance off the the bottom of his sneaker with a stick. “My wife has it under control,” he said.

“Can you tell us more about the off-season adjustments?” we asked.

“Yes I can,” he responded somberly. “When the motion-activated slingshot installation failed last year ,we knew we had to do something radical. Plan A was a 20-foot wall surrounding the entire property. When the Canadian government refused to pay for it, we went to Plan B: LAME.”

“I beg your pardon?”

“LAME. Lattice and Miscellaneous Equipment. I can show you.”

With his eyes glued to the ground, Mr. X led us to the southern side of the property, where an impressive, if unlikely, collection of items dominated the landscape. Two trash barrels, four pieces of lattice, a horizontally placed stepladder, various piles of branches and dead vine, and eight brightly colored bungee cords were strategically arranged to form a barrier approximately 60 feet in length.

“My goodness!” we proclaimed. Mr. X appeared not to hear. “It’s not working,” he said to no one in particular. “They’re getting in somewhere.” We realized he was speaking again, and leaned closer. “One-third their body weight,” he murmured. “Eight pounds per bird per day.”

There was a pause while this image sunk in. “How has the losing streak affected household morale?”

Mr. X sighed. “There’s been some finger-pointing,” he conceded. Another pause. “We just need to stay within ourselves and take it one goose at a time.”

Encouragingly, we asked if there were other equipment options being considered. “Well … that’s a problem. The truth is, we can’t get out. The whole property’s barricaded. Look what happened when I tried to sneak through the lattice in Sector Nine this morning.” He held up his right hand revealing a two-inch gash. “Those lattice staples are nasty,” he observed.

At that moment, his eyes fell on a goose that had waddled around the corner of the house. Brandishing the rake, he spun and charged at the new arrival. “You again!” he shrieked. “I remember you from last year. Out! Get out! And don’t come back!”

We took this opportunity to head over to Section Nine in search of an opening.