By Chad Ingram
Mountain Lake is going to the birds. During their Aug. 27 meeting Minden Hills councillors heard from Mountain Lake residents about what they say are growing numbers of seagulls on the lake.
The growing seagull population the residents believe is directly correlated to Mountain Lake’s close proximity to the Scotch Line landfill where flocks of the birds are often found feeding on garbage.
“For the last 10 years we’ve seen continuing seagull populations” said resident George Steeves who’s had a place on the lake for 39 years.
Steeves who had photographic evidence to accompany his presentation explained the birds are littering docks boats and swimming areas particularly through the southern portions of the lake with their feces so much so that it in some place people are reluctant to go swimming.
“We’ve got 100 plus property owners that are experiencing the same type of problem” Steeves said. He said some people have taken to covering their docks with mesh.
“We’re not normal I don’t think” said Steeves of the area’s seemingly ever-increasing seagull population. “We’re experiencing our proximity to the dump.”
Steeves and Mountain Lake Property Owners’ Association president Howard Clarke told councillors they hoped something could be done with the operations at the Scotch Line landfill to mitigate the problem.
Property and environmental operations manager Ivan Ingram had prepared a report for council with some suggestions.
“There’s a sonic unit there that’s suggested” Ingram said referring to a digital sound maker that would emit a 110-decibel sound designed to harass the birds.
The unit would cost about $1400 and also periodically require new sounds chips at about $55 a pop. As Ingram explained once the birds become accustomed to a sound it becomes ineffective so a new chip with a new sound is used.
Ingram said the ongoing noise could be a health and safety concern for workers at the landfill.
Another similar suggestion was the installation of sound cannons which would emit 130-decibel blasts at timed intervals.
The report said three cannons at about $1000 each would be required.
Another potential solution in the report was falconry which would entail bringing falcons – natural predators of seagulls – to the landfill twice a week through the cottaging season.
This option was the most expensive and would cost $21000 for the year.
Ingram said there were measures property owners could take as well such as the purchase of plastic bobble-head cats which are apparently effective at keeping birds at bay.
Shooting the birds would require special licensing that is difficult to obtain since seagulls are a migratory species protected by federal law.
Councillors accepted the report for information and Reeve Brent Devolin told Steeves and Clarke that council would welcome suggestions and was willing to work on the issue.