The Indio, Calif., club is requesting an amendment to an ordinance that prohibits the discharge of a firearm within city limits so a flock of American Coot birds could be shot. The bird, which resembles a duck but is far more destructive, is protected under the Migratory Species Act.
Heritage Palms Country Club in Indio, Calif., is requesting an amendment to an ordinance that prohibits the discharge of a firearm within city limits so a nuisance flock of birds can be killed, the Palm Springs (Calif.) Desert Sun reported.
The American Coot, which resembles a duck, is destructive to golf courses because they pick at the grass with their pointed beaks, destroying fairways and greens, and also dirty water features and greens with large volumes of excrement, the Sun reported.
The Indio City Council will discuss the request October 17. Nearby Indian Wells (Calif.) Golf Resort and La Quinta (Calif.) Resort and Club are using non-lethal methods, such as remote-controlled boats, cars and lasers to rid the courses of the birds, the Sun reported.
“Coots are a problem at every golf course in the valley. When they get to a level and you can’t tolerate them anymore and it’s becoming more of a nuisance, the only way to really deal with them is through harassment,” said Brian Hampson, Director of Agronomy at Indian Wells.
Indio Police Department spokesman Ben Guitron said the birds are destroying the green space at Heritage Palms, the Sun reported.
“It looked like someone blackened and tarred the landscaping – the grassy area,” Guitron said of pictures he saw.
The code amendment would make it OK for a hunter to shoot a Coot, as long as the hunter obtains a permit from the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service. The American Coot is protected under the Migratory Species Act, the Sun reported.
A “condition of most depredation permits requires the permit holder to exhaust all non-lethal methods before they can shoot the birds,” said Scott Flaherty, spokesman for the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service Pacific Southwest Region in Sacramento.
It is not known what methods Heritage Palms has used to eradicate the birds, the Sun reported.
“Several people have come to us and said this is an issue for us. The mess they leave is very unsanitary. It destroys the greens,” said Indio Mayor Glenn Miller. Though Miller is a golfer and certified golf superintendent, he said he has not made up his mind on the issue and looks forward to discussing the matter, the Sun reported.
“I need to really hear the facts. What’s in the best interest for the safety of our residents? It is a problem in multiple places,” Miller said.
Hampson said that though Coots are not “bad birds” in general, they become a problem when there is a large amount of them, the Sun reported.
“When you get clusters of 50 and 60, they really start making a mess. There are courses that will have a couple hundred on a single hole,” said Hampson.