Mountain View Voice

News - June 10, 2011

Council takes a swing at Shoreline bird nuisance

by Daniel DeBolt

The city has upped the ante in its bird battle at Shoreline Park with Tuesday's City Council decision to fill the course's freshwater ponds with dirt.

The City Council unanimously decided to fill four freshwater ponds that several thousand Canada geese and American coots flock to. It will take 115,000 cubic yards of soil.

Nearly every method possible has been used to try to get rid of the birds, which chew up the course and leave droppings everywhere. The birds have been chased away by dogs, remote control boats, fake alligator heads — even shotguns were used in the 1980s to kill hundreds of them. In 2008, draining the ponds made a big impact, a 58 percent reduction in coots and a 25 percent reduction in geese.

The move comes as the city-run golf course begins to become a drain on the city budget. The hope is that cutting down on the bird problem will increase business.

The filled ponds will be landscaped to attract mice and insects to provide new hunting grounds for the area's rare burrowing owls. About a dozen of the ground-dwelling owls still exist in the area. Rocks, pieces of wood, plants and grass were chosen to provide the owls a place to hunt and provide golf hazards for players.

The city is using the filled ponds to offset loss of 6 acres of owl habitat south of the golf course where new baseball and soccer fields are planned.

A section of one of the four ponds will remain in front of the Michaels at Shoreline restaurant.

The project will use $330,00 in Shoreline tax district bond revenue and $20,000 paid by Google for impacting burrowing owls with an outdoor recreation facility on the north side of Amphitheater Parkway.

Email Daniel DeBolt at ddebolt@mv-voice.com

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