Whitesburg KY

Feeding ducks soon to be illegal at Jenkins Lake

People who visit Jenkins Lake to feed ducks, mallards and geese may soon be cited and fined if they continue to feed the birds.

The Jenkins City Council voted unanimously at its July meeting to approve a new law prohibiting people from feeding the ducks and mallards in hopes the migratory birds will head farther north.

Margaret Lewis, of Lakeside Drive in Jenkins, and her husband, Richard, attended the meeting to ask for relief from the problem of dealing with bird droppings in their neighborhood. Mrs. Lewis made an impassioned plea to the council to come up with a solution to the problem. She told the council that the sidewalk and road are often coated with filth from the large amount of bird feces. She said she and her son walk to town every day and often have to walk in the street to avoid droppings on the sidewalk and in the street as well. She also expressed concern about the children fishing and playing in the Kiddy Park at Jenkins Lake.

Mrs. Lewis told the council that the number of ducks and mallards has grown tremendously since people began feeding them regularly. She said the number has grown from two to 52 and the amount of droppings produced by the large birds is impossible for property owners to deal with. Lewis said the street department’s attempts to deal with the droppings by washing the street with high pressure hoses just washed the droppings into the lake, where they will necessitate more chemical treatment for city water. She said the root of the problem is people coming to the lake to feed the birds.

“The geese won’t leave because people are feeding them,” said Lewis. “Some bring buckets of grain or bags of bread.”

Mayor Charles Dixon said he has spoken with local game wardens and with the Kentucky Department of Fish and Wildlife and that the city’s options are limited because the geese are considered a protected species. Dixon said Fish and Wildlife said the best solution would be to stop feeding the geese and to destroy the nests. He said the city could also have a goose eradication done by the department, or have an open hunting season on them in the fall. However, the close proximity of houses would prevent hunting the geese, Dixon said.

“They can come in January and trap them, but that will cost the city $1,500,” said Dixon. “The city is not allowed to trap the geese or to injure them.”

Council member Carol Anne Litts, who lives in the Lakeside area, told the council she receives numerous telephone calls about the geese as well as the large amount of garbage left by people who use the lake for fishing, picnicking and the Kiddy Park.

Council member Chuck Anderson, who also lives in the area, told the council a rat problem is also growing as rats feed on the garbage. Litts suggested the city make feeding the geese and ducks illegal and also enact a trash ordinance at the lake. She then put the suggestion in the form of a motion which was unanimously passed.

City Attorney Randall Tackett said the ordinance would have to undergo the standard two readings and and publication before it becomes law. Tackett told the council there is nothing to prevent the city from going ahead and posting signs to prevent feeding the animals at the lake before the ordinance becomes law.

In other business, the council learned that the city’s effort to control leaks in the city’s antiquated water lines has created a “Catch 22” effect that actually can increase leaks. Utilities Commission Chair Ked Sanders told the council that by replacing old leaking water lines with new stronger lines, the city has caused water pressure to increase and that leaks in old lines are made worse, with new leaks springing up from the additional pressure Sanders said the water department intends to continue to repair leaks and replace lines, but added that the Utilities Commission wants to have a voice in planning as the city enters into Phase II of totally replacing the entire system of lines, some of which date to the city’s founding in 1912.

Sanders said the Commission has no intention of taking over the engineering on the project, but that members do want to make certain that pressure reducing valves are placed in the lines even if it means that booster pumps will also have to be used to get water to higher elevations in the city.

The council learned from Nesbitt Engineering representative Matt Curtis that water lines extensions into Kane Branch are now complete and the extension into McPeeks Branch is about 25 percent finished. The Kane Branch/McPeeks Branch extensions are being paid for by Kentucky Abandoned Mine Lands program.

Curtis also reported that residents of Number Two Bottom in Burdine will have to wait a little longer until their sewer problems are addressed. He said that red tape and numerous requirements from both the state Division of Water and the United States Department of Agriculture’s Rural Development Agency have caused delays.

Council member Anderson noted that recent heavy rains caused a “geyser” to erupt from one manhole in Burdine. He said sewage leaks from the manhole regularly and children walk through it and people drive through it as well.

Among other business:

• The council voted unanimously to accept a bid of $90.00 per ton for asphalt. The lone bid came from Collins Paving.

• Ked Sanders told the council that Appalachian Regional Healthcare has signed on as a sponsor of the Jenkins Homecoming Days Festival and will sponsor train rides for children and have a Health Care facility at the festival. Sanders said there are still a few spots available under the main shelter but that most planning for the festival has now been finalized.

• Police Chief Jim Stephens reported that the Jenkins Police Department responded to 92 complaints in June, down by almost 40 complaints from the two previous months. Twenty-three arrests were made, including five DUI arrests and nine drug related ones. Twenty-six citations were issued.

Stephens also reported that Officer Scott Ratliff graduated from the Police Basic Training Program at Eastern Kentucky University and received the top physical performance award and graduated as top marksman in his class. Ratliff is the son of Paul Michael and Lisa Ratliff of Burdine.

• In his Mayor’s Report, Dixon said that drought problems two years ago have given away to problems caused by too much rain. Dixon added that the city is beginning preparations for the 2012 Centennial Celebration. The Planning Committee will be in charge of the celebration and citizen input is invited. The committee meets on the second Monday every month at City Hall at 6 p.m.

• The council voted to allow the Jenkins High School football team to use the outfield at the Lady Cav Softball Park for practice to preserve grass on the football field.

• The council voted unanimously to move the August meeting date to August 10 instead of August 3.

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