Oxnard officials have been warned by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to remove fishing lines used to keep birds out of ponds at the city-owned golf course or face a $10,000 fine for every bird killed by the lines.
Employees at River Ridge Golf Course have used lines for about two years to keep sea gulls from landing in the ponds and carrying litter onto the course.
However, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Agent Herb Curry said Wednesday that the fishing lines may be killing other migratory birds that frequent the ponds.
For the last six months, Curry said, his office has received complaints from nearby residents about injured birds near the course.
"The birds are flying into the line and being injured or killed because they can't see it," Curry said.
Curry said he sent the city a letter Dec. 12, warning that it is a misdemeanor to kill a migratory bird. If found guilty, the city can be fined $10,000 for each bird, including the sea gulls, he said.
However, city officials have refused to remove the lines, Curry said.
Golf course supervisor Rebecca Buckalew defended the practice, saying sea gulls and other birds avoid the pond because they are able to see the heavy-duty fishing lines before they land.
She said she has never seen a bird hurt or killed by the lines.
Since the course was built in 1985, Buckalew said sea gulls have discarded litter and chicken bones on the greens, pestered golfers and coated adjoining houses with droppings.
She said city employees have unsuccessfully tried to scare the birds away with firecrackers and other noisemakers. Although the city has a permit to shoot 400 coots and 100 sea gulls a year, Buckalew said the city would prefer to scare the birds away with the fishing line.