A round of golf at Bangor Municipal Golf Course can quickly turn into a visit from any of the various critters who have made the course their new home in recent years.
The golf course has recently established designated “non-play areas” that serve as wildlife habitat, according to Rob Jarvis, the PGA head professional at Bangor Municipal. By letting grass grow wild in certain areas, animals have been able to make habitats using the protection of tall grass and the surrounding trees.
The non-play areas — now about 6 to 7 acres — came out of the golf course’s 2016 recertification as an Audubon International Cooperative Sanctuary for Golf.
Ever since, Bangor Municipal has seen a host of different animals either settle down at the 27-hole course or just pass through, including coyotes, deer, fishers, turkeys, ducks and red foxes, Jarvis said.
One such visitor is the peregrine falcon, an endangered species in Maine. And just last week, Jarvis said, two bald eagles perched themselves on a tree by the snow-covered putting greens.
Last year, two fishers were seen building their den on the golf course, according to Jarvis.
Jarvis said the resident wildlife give golfers a chance to see animals they’ve never seen before in their natural habitats.
For the most part, the animals pose no threat to golfers other than the occasional nuisance.
“The fox has been known to steal some golf balls,” Jarvis said.
The course has been an Audubon International Certified Golf Sanctuary since 2013 and is up for its second recertification this year. Golf courses must go through recertification every three years to retain their sanctuary status.
There are 797 Audubon International Golf sanctuaries around the world, including 666 in the U.S.
In Maine, four courses including Bangor Municipal have achieved the sanctuary status.