From the Susquehannock Wildlife Society:
Patrons of Friends Park in Forest Hill may notice a little less pond with each visit this week and a lot more construction activity throughout the spring and summer as the water body is improved and upgraded.
While the Harford County Departments of Parks and Recreation and Public Works prepared plans for the park, the Susquehannock Wildlife Society worked in conjunction with the Department of Natural Resources to make sure the park’s other inhabitants weren’t overlooked.
This project will improve the overall water quality of the pond and include a new boardwalk and fishing pier, but requires the complete draining of the pond for the duration of the six-month project. The athletic fields and larger parking lot, which also serves the Ma & Pa trail, will remain open during construction, but most of the pond’s denizens – frogs, fish, turtles, and waterfowl – will be evicted from their home.
Weeks of coordination between state and county government agencies, construction contractors, and members of the Susquehannock Wildlife Society led to consideration and eventual implementation of efforts to address the wildlife impacted by draining the pond.
During the first week of May, DNR’s Fisheries Service removed and relocated a number of fish from Friends Pond, which is a designated state trout stocking location. Although some fish were relocated, many more remain in the quickly-emptying pond. The Susquehannock Wildlife Society is arranging for many of the large koi to be relocated to private local ponds and for other amounts of fish to be frozen and donated to regional wildlife rescue organizations, nature centers, and zoological parks, where they can feed the eagles and other fish-eating animals as they are rehabilitated.
Following the advice of state experts, the frogs and turtles of Friends Pond will be assisted out of the pond as necessary, intercepted as they near the roadways, and re-directed toward the existing stream and wetlands area. Biologists believe the reptiles and amphibians will follow the flowing water to suitable habitat downstream.
Friends Pond is also home to a variety of waterfowl including Canada geese, mallard ducks, and domestic varieties of Peking and Swedish duck. These wild birds will be placed at local farms and community ponds.
Any injured wildlife found during this project will be evaluated by our wildlife rescue partners (Phoenix Wildlife Center) for possible rescue and rehabilitation.
Members of the Susquehannock Wildlife Society have already started public outreach efforts at the park and will continue to make frequent visits to check on the status of the wildlife and ensure patrons of the park understand the situation.
Visitors and passersby who may be driving through the area this spring and summer are asked to please be mindful of wildlife on the roadway and vigilant for any wildlife in need of assistance.
Coinciding with the drainage of the pond, the main rescue activities will occur early on Saturday. Anyone interested in lending a hand or donating a cooler or bags of ice should contact the Susquehannock Wildlife Society at firstname.lastname@example.org.
For more information about the Susquehannock Wildlife Society, visit www.suskywildlife.org.
To report a wildlife emergency please call us at (443) 333-WILD.
Photography by Scott McDaniel