Tuesday, August 22, 2006

ENV: Up and Down Geese

Urban geese put on USFWS hit list
PHIL POTTER, Tri-State Outdoors, Sunday, August 20, 2006


The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service intends to send everyone on a wild goose chase next year. The USFWS has declared war on urban geese.

Can you remember some 30 or so years ago when the discovery of a remnant flock of supposedly extinct giant Canada geese was touted as a miracle?

For years, giant Canadas were thought killed out until someone checked an old market hunters' pond and found the "extinct" geese.

These had been his live decoys, and after live decoys were banned he kept them as pets. This news prompted the USFWS to implement their comeback.

The big birds easily colonized city lakes and golf courses and were treasured until their numbers grew.

In the Mississippi Flyway, it is estimated giant Canadas now number more than 1.7 million. The same is true in the Atlantic and Central Flyways.

Faced with landowner complaints and the fact the geese rarely migrate, the USFWS has plans for a great culling with a three-part regulatory program.

The first installs control and depredation orders for airports, land owners, farmers and public health officials. Basically, this allows the geese to be "removed" without a federal permit as long as reporting and monitoring requirements are followed.

The second expands hunting methods and opportunities to increase sportsmen's bag of resident geese. States will be free to expand shooting hours and allow the use of electronic calls and unplugged shotguns during a portion of the early September season.

The third adds an Aug. 1-31 "management" kill following the first full operational year of the other regulations. The Pacific Flyway will be excluded by the states within request.

Apparently the big geese will have some modicum of protection during April, May, June and July.

For specific details, go to the Aug. 10, 2006, copy of the Federal Register or hit the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service home page.

Americans seem prone to despise wildlife that prospers after being protected. Whitetail deer, urban antelope and snow geese are other examples.

Probably the next species added to the urban hit list will be wild turkeys that are moving to the suburbs - or have suburbs moving to them.

Either way, future conflict looms as burgeoning human populations push wildlife aside.

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