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Covington grants Ashton Hills permission to shoot geese

A small group of hunters will be removing geese from Ashton Hills Golf Course soon, after the Covington City Council approved the use of a permit Monday to shoot the animals.

Bryan Raines, a co-owner of Ashton Hills, requested permission for the use of firearms in the city in order to rid the course of about a dozen geese.

The geese, Raines said, have been a problem for the course for about 15 years. The geese dig 12-inch holes in the greens searching for food, make a mess on the course and have been known to attack golfers.

“It costs a lot of money to go in three, four or five times a month and fix all the areas they disturb,” Raines said. “Another issue is feces, and they’re also very aggressive. They’ll go after you and they’ll bite you.”

Raines told the council that Ashton Hill’s staff has tried every method it could think of to get rid of about a dozen geese which have become residents of the course and its lakes. Dogs have been brought onto the course, chemicals have been sprayed, cayenne pepper has been put on nesting sites, fishing line was put in the lake to try and keep the geese out and even cranes were brought in to try and chase off the geese.

None of those efforts, which had been brought to the attention of the department of natural resources, have worked.
“We’ve worked hard the last few years to eliminate the growth in population,” Raines said. “We have gone through the steps, and the DNR says this is the next step in the phase.”

According to Covington City Manager Leigh Anne Knight the city’s pest eradication permit does not cover geese. Raines, therefore had to come to the city for approval of the permit granted by the DNR to take care of the nuisance of the geese.
City ordinances also do not permit the firing of weapons in city limits. More than 78 percent of Ashton Hill’s golf course is in the city of Covington.

Raines has contacted both the Newton County Sheriff’s Office and the Covington Police Department after receiving permission from the DNR to shoot the geese. The Sheriff’s Office said they will have a deputy on hand during the removal of the geese, and that the Ashton Hills staff alert 911 dispatch ahead of time. The Covington Police Department will have officers on hand to make sure the shooting is done safely.

“We didn’t want a bunch of gunfire going off in county and we wanted people to know what’s going on,” Raines said.
The DNR’s permit for shooting the geese runs form March 11 through Aug. 31 and is for the shooting of 10 geese. Raines said neighbors around Ashton Hills lakes will be notified but the date of the shooting will not be made public.

The DNR permit calls for .410-gauge shotgun shells loaded with No. 6 pellets, and that the be fired by licensed hunters with a bird stamp.

Councilman Michael Whatley, who lives on the golf course, made the motion to allow Ashton Hills to use the permit, and Josh McKelvey seconded with the whole council approving.