Why I Clean The Lake

Before goose hunting season begins I tell the resident semi-domesticated flocks, “Look guys, hunting season starts soon so you need to be out of here.” They actually seem to listen.

The first year I did this the state Fish & Boats regional director arrived at the lake early on opening day and said the flock was already gone. As far as I could tell they stayed away too. Funny thing though, a large flock appeared back at the lake the very first day after goose season ended. I told them when the season started, but I didn’t say when it would end. How did they know?

I don’t think this can be considered hunter harassment by even the most over-zealous officer as I am only exer­cising my free speech and right to talk to animals, it’s not yet hunting season, and no hunters are present. Besides, for them to admit the geese understand my advice is to give the geese a level of intelligence I don’t think hunters want to admit to.

A lot of fishermen do not seem very happy with hunters either. I guess no one likes having shots fired in their direction. On several occasions I have seen fishermen actually stop their boats and fish in front of openly perturbed hunters. Recently I even saw a couple of fishermen casting their lines right in amongst a hunter’s decoys. The hunter might have been thinking “hunter harassment” but I think this was a clear case of fisherman harassment. The hunter had set his decoys in prime fish­ing grounds. (Of course I’m pro-fish too so I’m not endorsing fishing.)

When I was shot at by a hunter five years ago there were more hunters at the lake that one day than I have seen since. In previous years both hunters and geese would be on the lake throughout the 3 week September sea­son.

It could be a coincidence. But I like to think the openly hostile fishermen, increased morning usage by kayakers

and canoeists, and my pre-season chats with the geese makes this lake less wel­coming for hunters. This year I didn’t see any hunters after the second day and for the first time I did not see a sin­gle dead or wounded goose on the lake, something that is usually a normal sight this time of year.

I spend a lot of my time while kayak­ing and hiking around the lake keeping it clean of trash. Because I know how fishing line, plastics, and other human garbage hurts and kills wildlife.

Over the past 5 years I’ve collected about 1400 plastic grocery-sized bags of garbage; about half of it I recycle. Most days my kayak looks more like a garbage scow.

It’s interesting seeing the variety – from the everyday bottles and cans, food wrappers, plastic bags, fishing line, and bait containers to light bulbs, shotgun shells, car parts, balls and toys, arrows, a pregnancy test (showing negative results), plastic Easter eggs, paint cans, clothing, and every conceivable bit of human refuse you can imagine. I just wish I didn’t have to see it out there.

I began collecting trash 5 years ago after cutting a duck free who was tan­gled in fishing line. (This summer I cut a goose free.) I began collecting all the fishing line I could find and soon all the plastics. Now I keep the 106-acre lake clean as I go. Unfortunately I can leave the lake clean one day and the next day pickup 2 or 3 more bags of trash.

As you may know plastic in the envi­ronment doesn’t biodegrade, it photo- degrades – breaking down into smaller and smaller pieces. These pieces now outweigh zoo plankton in the oceans and are being eaten and passed up the food chain (another reason not to eat fish).

I hear “Thank you” from fishermen and other lake users for collecting trash but I do it for the wildlife. Eagles and ospreys, beaver and mink, herons and egrets, songbirds and waterfowl, turtles

and snakes all use the lake and make my mornings enjoyable. I’m glad I can help them.

Unfortunately October’s duck season still attracts ducks and duck hunters so I guess there will be more shotgun shells for me to pick up next year. Maybe I should have a talk with the ducks too.

Bill Knapp is an avid outdoorsman who doesn’t kill animals. On the con­trary, he loves nature the way a mother loves her child or vice versa, and not the way a thief loves money or a hunter loves his victims.

The photos below were sent to C.A.S.H. by J.P. of Delafield, Wisconsin. His home is on Nagawicka Lake and he is seeking help. He was threatened with arrest by a fish and game agent for taking photos of the hunters and asking them to leave.

Hunting is allowed next to children and near houses and boaters.

Hunter sticking out his tongue at someone who’s asking him to leave the area.


Contact Us

Committee to Abolish Sport Hunting / C.A.S.H.
P.O. Box 562
New Paltz, NY 12561