• Facebook logo
  • Twitter logo
  • Pinterest logo
  • Blog logo
  • LinkedIn logo
  • YouTube logo
  • Instagram logo
  • Google Plus logo

Pond Management: Don’t Feed the Wildlife!

by: SOLitude Lake Management   |   Nov 15, 2016


Written by Industry Expert, Gavin Ferris, Ecologist

dont-feed-wildlife-deer-pond-e.jpgIn March 2015, residents of South Hampton, New Hampshire found six dead deer on a suburban lot. Several biologists and a game warden then investigated the site and found six more. The deer had not been shot or killed by predators, nor had they starved or died of exposure. They had been fed to death. With their stomachs and digestive systems used to their winter diet of woody browse, a sudden bounty of corn from a well-meaning human can be a shock to the system, in this case resulting in fatal enterotoxemia.

This example is dramatic, perhaps even extreme, but it illustrates the potential consequences of feeding wildlife. Certainly, not every animal that gets fed by a human will inevitably suffer a gruesome and untimely death. All the same, it usually isn’t good for the wildlife, it might not be good for the environment or its human inhabitants, and in the vicinity of a lake or pond it can be extremely bad for the water. It is perfectly natural, even admirable, for people to want to help the wildlife that they share their surroundings with. Unfortunately, there are several major consequences to feeding wildlife that make anything more than a backyard bird feeder quite unhealthy for all involved.

Read More

Topics: Nature's Creatures, Aquatics in Brief Newsletters

Nuisance Wildlife Management: "Dammed" If You Do

by: SOLitude Lake Management   |   May 05, 2015

AS SEEN IN Community Assets, Written by Industry Expert Gavin Ferris, Ecologist, SOLitude Lake Management

Community_Assets_-_March_2015_Cover_eThe North American Beaver, Castor canadensis, is a truly remarkable animal. It is common knowledge that beavers build dams, and that the water held back by these dams provides them with protection from predators. What few people know is that their instinct to build these dams approaches the point of outright neurosis. When a beaver sees or hears water flowing, he is obsessed by a desire to make it not flow.

In the wild, this little quirk is highly admirable. Beaver ponds provide vital habitat for waterfowl, amphibians, reptiles, and numerous wetland plant species. As beavers were once nearly wiped out across the continent this valuable ecosystem service became all too rare, and many species suffered. Beavers are now becoming common again, and thankfully these key wetland habitats are reappearing throughout their range.

In a stormwater pond, however, this trait becomes a major character flaw. These ponds are carefully designed to allow water to flow at a specific rate to allow the ponds to be maintained at the correct water level. Any obstruction to the pond’s outflow hinders this operation, resulting in improper stormwater discharge. If allowed to persist, the inevitable flooding can lead to property damage.

Read More

Topics: Nature's Creatures, Nuisance Wildlife Control

Considerations for Waterfowl Management

by: SOLitude Lake Management   |   Jan 27, 2015

Written by Gavin Ferris, Ecologist

Resident_ducks_at_VB_office_Marc_H_03.30._eAll lakes and ponds are unique and serve various purposes, but whether your waterbody is a quarter acre stormwater retention pond or a 3,000-acre recreational lake, it provides habitat for countless species of wildlife from insects to eagles. Some, like mosquitoes, we wish to discourage. A reasonable number of appropriate waterfowl species, on the other hand, may well be the most popular visitors. Migratory species like ducks can use all of the welcoming waterbodies they can find, as many species are facing challenges from shrinking habitats throughout their ranges.

If you wish to make your property more hospitable to ducks and other waterfowl, it is important to consider which species you want to encourage, and how many individuals the surrounding area can support. If you attract too many birds to your pond, they may defoliate the surrounding area. Canada geese can be particularly destructive in large numbers, especially if they leave the pond to graze on land. The best way to discourage geese from leaving the water is to grow taller vegetation along the shoreline, with plants that also provide habitat value to desirable waterfowl. Plants like Arrow Arum, Duck Potato, and Pickerelweed all provide a food source for waterfowl while discouraging birds from foraging on land.

Read More

Topics: Nature's Creatures

Turtles: Are They Hurting My Pond?

by: SOLitude Lake Management   |   Jul 08, 2014

Written by Marcus Harris, Fisheries Biologist

turtles-in-pondTurtles are one of the oldest still living groups of animals on the planet. The order Chelonii (includes all species of turtles both extant [living] and extinct) dates back to the Triassic period and the time of dinosaurs about 220 million years ago! Over that time period they’ve adapted to living in many different environments and can be completely terrestrial, semi-terrestrial, and aquatic (both marine and freshwater).

The majority of lakes and ponds have suitable habitat for turtles. So, if you have water on your property, you most likely have turtles and you may be wondering what effect they have on the ecosystem. To determine that, we need to look at what type of turtle you may encounter. The two most common types are sliders (painted and red-eared) and snappers (alligator and common).

Read More

Topics: Nature's Creatures

Pond Management: What are those furry creatures in my pond?

by: SOLitude Lake Management   |   Jan 16, 2014

By J. Wesley Allen, Environmental Scientist

The Muskrat and North American Beaver have adapted to the increasing number of stormwater ponds and facilities, and can cause huge headaches if not recognized and controlled.

Muskrats are small dark brown to black aquatic rodents (16-24 in., 1.3-4.4 lbs.) that live in ponds and wetlands throughout most of the United States and Canada, feeding on the aquatic vegetation found there. Muskrats are prolific breeders and can have two to three litters of up to eight young per litter every year. Muskrats were once trapped extensively for their fur, but reduction of trapping and predator numbers have allowed muskrat populations to remain strong, even with the loss of wetland habitat.

muscratbThe muskrat has moved into many stormwater ponds, wetlands, and facilities. They can seriously damage these areas by burrowing into embankments, leading to massive erosion and even pond/facility failure. They can also eat installed and beneficial wetland plants. Because they breed prolifically, the population can quickly become destructive. They are active mainly at dawn or dusk, but burrows in the embankment near the water and disappearing aquatic vegetation are indicators of muskrats. There are very few preventative measures to keep muskrats from your pond, but keeping cattail populations under control can reduce the risk. Trapping is the best method to control muskrat populations.

Read More

Topics: Nature's Creatures, Nuisance Wildlife Control

Goose Chase: Methods for Effective Goose Control

by: SOLitude Lake Management   |   Jul 10, 2013

By Greg Blackham, Aquatic Specialist 

Goose ChaseResident Canada geese populations in North America are estimated at 4 million. Chances are that they have found your community pond. Even more likely is that the residents of your community consider them to be a nuisance — they can be aggressive, cause unsanitary conditions, and destroy property at a rapid rate. Their numbers have grown at an incredible pace over the last few decades and they are becoming a widespread problem in urban and suburban areas. Don’t get me wrong… I love geese, but they are not a great fit for ponds in developed areas.

Read More

Topics: Nature's Creatures

Lake Wildlife: Winter Waterfowl

by: SOLitude Lake Management   |   Jan 20, 2013

By Shannon Junior, Aquatic Ecologist

describe the image
Common Loon nonbreeding plumage
Most of us pay close attention to our ponds and lakes during the summer months. Whether we are fishing, boating, or simply walking the dog along the shoreline, it is usually during the warm part of the year that we spend time appreciating our aquatic resources. As the weather turns colder, most of us move indoors and enjoy our ponds from afar. While some of us do truly appreciate the simple beauty of an ice-covered pond, even if only admired from the window, there are many opportunities for winter excitement as well. There are certain species of waterfowl that can only be seen in our area during the winter, and your pond may be a stopping point along their journey.

Read More

Topics: Nature's Creatures

The Amazing American Eel

by: SOLitude Lake Management   |   Oct 05, 2012

Written by Gavin Ferris, Ecologist

american eelRecently, while surveying some ponds and canals that feed into a tidal inland bay, I noticed some small slender creatures swimming about. They were no more than three inches long, and swam with whip-like bodies that wiggled about as fast as anything I’ve ever seen. They were young eels, probably tiny females though science isn’t sure about that yet, making their way upstream after what can only be described as an incredible journey.

The American Eel (and it’s very similar European cousin) is one of the most remarkable fish in the world. While many fish species like Salmon and Shad swim into freshwater to breed and live the rest of their lives in the ocean, these eels do the exact opposite. Eels, the females at least, swim up our rivers at a young age, then live in fresh water for 10-30 years. We used to think that male eels never left coastal areas, but now we think that population density might drive sex determination. In short, we don’t know what causes an eel to be male or female.  We do know that females can reach lengths in excess of five feet, while males rarely reach past three. We also do not know what triggers an eel to decide it’s time to breed, as some do this at less than ten years of age while others remain in our rivers until they are above thirty, but we do know what happens when they do.

Read More

Topics: Nature's Creatures

Helping Ducks Stay Healthy

by: SOLitude Lake Management   |   May 09, 2012

By Industry Expert Gavin Ferris, Ecologist

describe the image

I spent a lot of my childhood near a lake, and there was always a bag or two of stale bread on hand ready to be fed to the mallard ducks that swam expectantly past our dock.  Who hasn’t experienced the pure joy of feeding ducks?  Unfortunately, it turns out we aren’t doing the ducks much of a favor by tossing bread and crackers to them. 

For one thing, bread and crackers are to birds what donuts and chips are to people: junk food.  The carbohydrates are a good source of energy, but with little nutritional value, and while an occasional piece of bread here and a saltine cracker there does little harm, if too much of a duck’s diet comes to consist of these handouts from people, they can gain too much weight and have trouble flying.  This makes it difficult for them to migrate naturally, and can make it harder for them to avoid predators. 

Read More

Topics: Nature's Creatures

What's that Snake in the Water?

by: SOLitude Lake Management   |   Dec 15, 2011

Written by Industry Expert, Shannon Junior, Aquatic Ecologist

Comparison for Snake articleBack in the days when I worked for a pond construction company, one of my crew members told me that he needed some help identifying a snake that they had found on the job site. He said it was a water snake, and thought it was a cottonmouth. I asked if he had taken pictures of it, but instead he presented me a burlap bag with the snake inside. Its head was smashed, and its body had been neatly cut into several pieces with the blade of a shovel. As an ecologist and lover of wildlife, the site of the demolished snake left me heartbroken and speechless. It was a large, beautiful and HARMLESS northern watersnake. All I could think of to say was, “That is NOT the way to identify a snake!”

This case of mistaken identity is not unusual. There are some very vague similarities in coloration and pattern between northern watersnakes (Nerodia sipedon) and cottonmouths (Agkistrodon piscivorus), and they also somewhat resemble copperheads (Agkistrodon contortrix). However, when seen side-by-side, the snakes do not actually look that similar. And unlike cottonmouths and copperheads, Northern watersnakes are non-venomous and harmless to humans if left alone. Unfortunately, though, misidentification results in more watersnakes being killed each year than venomous snakes.

Read More

Topics: Nature's Creatures

6 Key Reasons To Invest In A Professional Fisheries Management Company How To Restore Lake And Pond Water Quality Through Nutrient Management Free Pond Management Assessment

Subscribe To Blog