We Love Wildlife On Our Golf Courses, But ...

Discussion in 'Superintendent Forums' started by LarryAylward, Nov 11, 2013.

  1. LarryAylward

    LarryAylward LawnSite Member
    Messages: 69

    By Ron Furlong

    Take a look at the photo on this page and then answer this question: Is it just me or did the beaver that gnawed through that plum tree cross a certain line? Would you agree that it was a little uncalled for?

    Wildlife. We welcome it on the golf course. In fact, we encourage it, providing things like birdhouses, deer licks and lots of different cozy habitats for all sorts of creatures. We call ourselves environmental stewards and brag to others about the vast variety of wildlife on our golf course: deer, fox, coyote, rabbits, eagles, hawks, owls, heron, turtles, frogs and snakes. We snap pictures and post them in the clubhouse. We add new sightings to our Audubon International wildlife list.

    But what happens when some not-so-likeable neighbors move into the community you've created? The community in which you've welcomed all with open arms? Just like your new human neighbor with his barking dogs and loud parties late into the night, some animals may not be quite so welcome to your little natural environmental habitat either.

    For instance, what about beavers and their ability to fell trees? How about geese and their ability to poop like nobody's business? Crows stealing bags of chips from golfers' unattended carts? Not cool, crows. Not cool. Even hornets stinging folks who are innocently looking for errant shots under trees. And don't get me started on the damage a tunneling mole can do in a few short hours.

    For all the great photo opps and feel-good moments you get from this vast array of wildlife on the golf course, you may get just as many negative and stressful moments. Dealing with goose poop can be a huge problem for golf courses, especially when the little buggers waddle onto greens in the early morning hours.

    And I don't know how many times each summer I get calls from the pro shop informing me of a golfer who is irate because a wasp stung them. Usually I find out later that the golfer was pretty deep in a thicket well off the beaten path. But they still are demanding that the nest be destroyed and every last wasp murdered. And, of course, they want to know how we possibly couldn't have known about the nest, even though it was 15 feet deep in a thicket as dense as a briar patch?

    Yes, wildlife can be a headache for any golf course superintendent. Take our beaver, for example. A cute, fuzzy little guy. People find it so environmentally sweet in an "aw, you have a beaver" kind of way. Although he doesn't show his face very often during the day (beavers being mostly nocturnal), when he does the cameras are popping like it's the first pitch on opening day at a new ballpark.

    But let's talk about that cute little beaver for a moment. In the last couple of years he (or a beaver that looks just like him) has taken down five willows and now three plums that circle that particular pond. We planted the eight trees about 10 years ago. That plum, about 20 feet high and healthy as could be, was the last of the eight still standing. Now that he has removed all of the trees around the pond, I'm not sure if he'll move on to a more fruitful site, or start working his way inland a bit and continuing his destruction of our trees.

    One could argue, I suppose, that the little fellow has as much right to the trees as we humans do. Just because humans planted them, does that make them people only trees going on into the future? The same with the geese. Who's to say they can't waddle wherever their little feet take them, even if that means up and onto a green or two? And the wasps, if you think about it, have as much right to the thicket as the golfer, as does the burrowing mole to the soil he mounds.

    I'm not sure there is any clear-cut lesson to be learned here either way, but maybe we can at least come to this one conclusion: With a diverse environment like a golf course, you can be sure that for all the positive wildlife you will encounter, there's sure to be a few bad apples in the bunch.

    But isn't that always the way it is?

    Furlong, a monthly columnist for Superintendent magazine, is the golf course superintendent at Avalon Golf Club in Burlington, Wash. He can be reached at rfurlong5@gmail.com.

    photo for Turf Talk column.jpg
    Last edited: Nov 11, 2013
  2. RussellB

    RussellB LawnSite Fanatic
    Messages: 8,757

    During the warm months(almost all year here) you will see an alligator in a fairway or pond during your round of golf. never seizes to amaze me how many golfers think they are fake and walk up to them. I say let em get eaten. I'd rather have the gators. I have always wondered how they keep the wild boars off the courses. You'll see them along the roads and swamps but never see any damage on the course. If your observant you'll see an eagle and hawks are plentiful. Now back to the beaver. Not sure what to say but I'd leave him alone unless he moves inland and just continues to destroy property. Wonder if you dragged the cuttings from other places on the course to the pond if he would make use of it. Bees aren't an issue. A little sting will make ya stronger. Geese are a pain especially on the greens. One course keeps a guy around with a dog to run them. Probably gets expensive. One thing I do know, golf course personel have their hands full.
  3. agrostis

    agrostis LawnSite Silver Member
    Messages: 2,545

    Did you know that beaver's have to chew to keep their chopper's from growing through their head? Seeing that picture brought back a memory of me driving by the clubhouse early one morning and finding a 10" caliper specimen willow that a local beaver had brought down overnight. This tree was very prominent and i had to spend the rest of the day putting chain link fence around tree trunk's that were in danger, it looked terrible but it worked.

    The geese... A lot of people really like those animals, i don't. Part of the greensmower's equipment included a shovel for scooping up goose crap before you could mow, this was a daily chore. A trained full-time dog is really the best solution for that, but it will cost you money, a bunch.

    One of the worst is the armadillo, you woudn't believe the damage just one of those thing's can do overnight. The only cure i know of for those critter's is to move north out of their range.

    I love animal's but they sure have caused me a lot of problem's. I'd rather deal with disease any day, at least they don't run away and hide.
    Last edited: Nov 11, 2013
  4. Michael J. Donovan

    Michael J. Donovan Head Moderator, Online Communities Staff Member
    Messages: 3,951

    just bumping this back up as we'd love to hear more stories regarding wild life and the problems they may cause your courses...or the wildlife in general you may see in and around your course

    thanks :waving:
  5. larryinalabama

    larryinalabama LawnSite Fanatic
    Messages: 19,648

    Back when I was in High School I had the privilege of having access to Vandenburg Air Force Base Golf Coarse. Its one of the best courses in the Nation. Anyway the place is covered up in Mule Deer. I don't think I ever played a round with out seeing several deer. Deer and Greens are not a good combination.

    I also got to play Torrey Pines in the early 1980s when is was a municipal coarse, not much wildlife, but "Hang Gliders" everywhere, those folks are crazy LOL.

    When I was playing a lot in the late 1990s our club, here in bamaland, had a resident Red Fox, it was a beautiful animal.

Share This Page