EAST STROUDSBURG -- An association that aims to protect waterways in the Poconos is making a plea to the public to stop feeding the geese, ducks, and other animals. It may seem harmless, but a new study says differently.
The Brodhead Watershed Association studied water quality in McMichaels Creek in Stroudsburg, the Lower Brodhead, and tributaries around them. They found high bacteria levels in certain areas, and they say not feeding the birds could fix the problem.
The rushing waters of the Lower Brodhead Creek appear clean on this spring day here in East Stroudsburg. But after a year-long study, the Brodhead Watershed Association is extremely concerned.
"We found that fecal coliforms, indicators of problems, really increase right in this area, right where this tributary comes into the Brodhead," said Don Baylor of the Brodhead Watershed Association.
Officials believe bacteria, much of it from geese and duck waste, along the creek is to blame.
People who visit Dansbury Park near Stroudsburg have often been seen feeding the birds and that's keeping large flocks around.
"You see parents with their kids, and it seems like a very nice activity, they're feeding the birds, but then it attracts them," said Stroudsburg borough manager Katherine Thomas.
Amanda Carrillo of Stroudsburg brings her kids to Dansbury Park and often sees the geese and ducks flying overhead.
"Not really surprised because I think a lot of people tend to feed the birds and the animals, but I personally don't," said Carrillo.
Brodhead Watershed Association volunteers say they hope to install signs along the levy that tell people not to feed the geese or ducks but they also say there are other things you can do to protect these waterways.
"Runoff from the parking lots and the recreational areas also can add to not only organic pollution but the fecal coliform," said Baylor.
Folks with the watershed association believe rain barrels to prevent runoff, education, and even making sure people are picking up after their dogs can help.
"Even putting it on social network seeing that everything, everyone sees everything through social networks, so maybe that would work," said Carrillo.
In some areas, the water isn't even safe to swim in. But officials believe it isn't too late to correct the problem, and set an example for others on how to maintain clean water.