Concerned citizens worried about baby geese at Naraghi Lake have helped launch an investigation into tilling on the property.
Warden Jeff Moran of the California Department of Fish and Wildlife went out to the lake, along Oakdale Road in northeast Modesto, Friday afternoon. He said he had received a call that the tilling of the fields surrounding the watering hole was “running over goslings.”
State law prohibits the harassment or destruction of nests or chicks for most kinds of birds, including baby geese — also known as goslings. Moran said he found no evidence of dead or injured Canada geese on the private property. But he did find some nests with eggs in them, despite it being late in the typical breeding season for geese.
The land surrounding the small man-made lake is regularly tilled to cut back on weeds and prevent fire hazards. In cases like this on private property, Moran said, the property owner is asked to either refrain from tilling altogether or check the area to be tilled and mark any nests with flags to avoid them until the investigation is complete.
Moran said it should take a week or two to determine whether the eggs on the nests he found are still viable. If they are, the landowner could be found in violation and then would be brought into compliance to reduce any future issues.
“Obviously, no one wants to see innocent baby geese get run over,” Moran said. “The (property) owners need to be able to develop their property as they see fit, but they can’t do so in a way that will negatively affect wildlife. So we work with property owners as much as possible to negate those issues.”
Issues surrounding the wildlife around Naraghi Lake have popped up over the years. The 13-acre lake was built in 1980 as part of a planned housing and commercial project on the property, owned by the Naraghi family. For 20 years, the undeveloped land was a popular walking and fishing destination.
But in 2001, some boys reeled in piranha-like fish from the water. The property has been fenced off to the public since then. It was later discovered the fish were pacu, which look similar to their flesh-eating counterparts but subsist on plants and nuts instead.
Then in 2006, someone snapped the necks of more than 30 geese around the lake. The culprit was never found. In 2015, a concerned citizen contacted the California Department of Fish and Wildlife worried that the geese and goslings inside the enclosure didn’t have enough access to food. And over the years, people have expressed similar concerns about tilling destroying jackrabbit dens in the area.