Today I attended the Nuisance Goose Seminar at Soloman Park in Fort Wayne. I thought it would be best if I shared the information that I received with all of my fellow Indiana hunters. What I am about to present to you is simply the information that was shared with me and the approximately 70 people in attendance. I am sure I will editorialize at times and I will try and make not of such when I do it. Any editorializing is simply my opinion or feelings on the matter. You may form your own. I am posting this on some of the major websites to inform my fellow hunters.
I first might note that it is my opinion that we as hunters can not argue for extended hunting seasons, increased bag limits, reduced nest/egg destruction, and other issues if we first are not open to listening objectively to the other side of the situation. That was the primary purpose of my attendance at this seminar.
The seminar was lead by Shannon Winks. Shannon is an Urban Wildlife Biologist for IDNR. Also in attendance was Patrick Mayer, the Region #5 Director for IDNR, and ICO Justin Blake. By my estimation there were about 70 people in attendance. Attendees ranged from lake property owners, neighborhood association managers, property managers, Fort Wayne Zoo officials, various city representatives, golf course superintendents, and myself. I believe that I was the only person there representing the diehard waterfowl hunters of our state, but I could be wrong.
The following is how the meeting flowed.
- The Canada Goose is regulated under the 1918 Migratory Bird Treaty Act.
- Of the 7 species of Canada Goose, Indiana primarily consists of the Giants.
- Hunting seasons are established around the Migratory goose, not the resident Giants.
- Giants increase in population by an estimated 6% per year and can live up to 25 years in the wild.
- 28 day incubation period.
- Female incubates while the male stands guard.
- Canada geese tend to nest in the same area year after year.
- Canada geese can form gang broads, basically one or two adults baby sit the broad from other adults.
CANADA GOOSE LIKES
- Fertilized grass. Fertilizers add nutrients to the young grass shoots.
- Grass under 6” tall.
- Favorite grass is Kentucky Blue
- Near water or open grazing fields, which was noted why they love the golf course and development type ponds.
- Mid June to July geese loose their flight feathers for approximately 30 days.
- Molting makes it easy to round geese up for trapping, relocation, and banding projects.
- Geese molt near water so that they can swim from danger since they can’t fly at that time.
SOLUTIONS TO THE NUISANCE GOOSE
- Stop feeding geese and other waterfowl.
- Do not allow domestic (farm) ducks, geese, and swans in water that you do not want Canada geese in. They are a magnet for Canadas and indicate that the location is safe and has food.
- The old wise tale that swans will chase geese away is false.
- Habitat modifications are an excellent goose deterrent.
- Habitat modifications consist of vegetative barriers (grass pond perimeters over 30” tall and 30’ wide), plant trees, shrubs, and other low growing brushy barriers near water, provide dense aquatic vegetation, provide steep rocky pond banks.
- Install wire fencing at the waters edge in key areas to force waterfowl from using the bank in a key area, like directly in front of an office entrance. Basically forcing geese to the other side of the pond.
- Eliminate islands and peninsulas on ponds. These are heaven on earth for geese because they feel protected.
- Turn off fountains in the winter and let the ponds ice over.
- Harassment through noise, predator decoys, even chasing them. Harassment techniques need to be randomly timed and change how you harass often. Geese quickly adapt to harassment techniques.
- Chemical repellents: Methyl Anthranilate makes the grass taste bad. Anthraquinone makes the grass taste bad and has a UV additive that the geese can see. Both are short term and must be applied frequently. The latter of the two costs approximately $250 per gallon.
- Very effective … 95%-100% when done right.
- Supported by wildlife agencies.
- If done properly it will satisfy the females nesting instinct. If done wrong she will re-nest.
- IDNR is encouraging 100% destruction in problem areas.
- Oiling, shaking, and puncturing eggs are the approved methods. They demonstrated how and when to do this to insure all the eggs are destroyed in a way that the female will not re-nest. Oil must be 100% corn oil (an EPA requirement).
- As of 2007, the ONLY way to register to destroy eggs is via the internet. Anyone can register without training or experience.
- When you register, you are ONLY allowed to destroy eggs on property that you either own personally, or property that you are a official representative (like a board member for a property owners association or property superintendent). You CAN NOT legally register and then just go destroying nests on anyone else’s private ground, public ground, or public waters.
- Once registered you MUST keep a log of exactly how many eggs you destroy, when you destroy them, and the nest locations. This log must be reported to IDNR before Oct. 31. If you do not report, then you can not destroy nests the next year.
- It was discussed about the danger of destroying nests and how to properly keep the male and female back during oiling. While destroying eggs, you are not allowed to harm the geese, HOWEVER, it was discussed that you do have the right to defend yourself if needed. (OK … EDITORIAL BY ME TIME … I can see the defend word being the excuse for a lot of dead or wounded geese.)
- Anyone can now have geese on their property or property they manage trapped for relocation.
- Trapping is to be done during the molting season and done by the property owner or manager.
- You have to go through your local IDNR biologist to get a trapping permit.
- Geese can be relocated only to State approved properties.
- There are many benefits to relocation.
- Goslings imprint the area they learn to fly, not where they hatched, so they tend to return to their relocation site.
- Relocated adult geese tend to migrate more, even the resident non-migrating geese.
- In 2005, 25% of the Indiana relocated geese showed up in the hunting harvest through band reports. In 2005, 40% of the geese relocated by the state of Kentucky showed up in the hunting harvest through band data. Thus proving that relocation of nuisance birds provides hunting opportunities.
- In 2007, IDNR is adopting a new relocation banding project where 2,000 geese will be fitted with colored leg bands to encourage hunters to report these unique trophies. The data from which will be used to determine better hunting harvest numbers and ultimately have an impact on Indiana hunting seasons.
- New for 2007, anyone can now have gees on their property or property they manage be trapped solely for euthanasia purposes. (EDITIORIAL NOTE … I was flat out speechless when I heard this … )
- The same procedure of acquiring a permit is done as in the relocation.
- Trapping for euthanized geese MUST be done by a licensed Nuisance Wildlife Control Operator.
- Only adult geese can be euthanized, not goslings. (EDITORIAL … Afterwards, I asked then how do the goslings survive. I was told that trapping occurs later in the year. So, I responded … “well there aren’t any goslings then, so do they separate out the juvies?” I got a “no”. So I said, “so then all the geese get euthanized right?” I got a “yes I guess so”. I felt sick to my stomach.)
- It costs approximately $25 per bird to have them euthanized, the meat utilized, and the carcass disposed of.
- The Nuisance Wildlife Control Operator is responsible for disposing of the meat and the carcass. The meat can be donated to a private kitchen (not a food bank), it can go to zoos to feed animals, or it can be incinerated.
- Euthanizing is typically done by gassing them. (EDITORIAL … Hitler would be proud … again, I’m sick to my stomach.)
- IDNR is promoting hunting as the most cost effective method for goose control and acknowledges that it is the least controversial.
- The current season structure was discussed.
- Early season (Sept) is set by the USFWS. IDNR has no control over this.
- Regular seasons are set by IDNR based on the number of hunting days that the Fed’s allow.
- IDNR is working to get zoning in some areas changed to allow for low velocity shot gun shells and archery equipment.
- IDNR is working on a February season with higher bag limits. Right now the hold up is at the Federal level.
- There is indication that the Feds will be giving hunters an August nuisance season as early as 2008. (EDITORIAL … Goose hunting in 90+ deg. heat, boy that sounds like a lot of fun …)
OTHER GENERAL THOUGHTS AND THINGS I OBSERVED
- Even after 2 ½ hours of information, there were many in the audience that couldn’t get it through their heads that they can’t simply stomp eggs or level a shotgun on problem geese.
- News 15 (CBS from Fort Wayne) was there and interviewed a few people. I think I’m in the back ground of one interview as I was discussing hunting to an open minded gentleman.
- I don’t think those in attendance fully understand how aggressive these geese are going to be when they get their nests invaded. I fear the result will be a lot of injured geese and some very bad press.
- Right now, I could vomit just thinking about the euthanizing of geese. Fortunately it will be very costly and keep many from doing it.
That in a nut shell was the conference. Please ask me questions if you have them. I’m sure I’ve left something out. I want to apologize if there is anything that I typed on here that is incorrect. I did my best to take accurate notes, but sometimes things fall through the cracks.
New Day Outdoors Productions, Marsh Mutt, Drake Waterfowl Systems, DSD
Next time you go out hunting, consider taking a kid along. Our future is the greatest joy you will find this sport.