By David Pendered
Georgia wildlife officials are asking the public to exercise patience with Canada geese when they are land-bound in early summer. The federal government is seeking permission to destroy nests and eggs of resident Canada geese at any time of year.
The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service filed on April 25 a proposed rule change it says is needed to reduce the risk to humans and damage to property caused by Canada geese. The comment period closed May 28, according to the posting on the Federal Register.
Geese are causing troubles for humans, as the birds have begun abandoning their historic North-South migratory patterns and staying in areas including metro Atlanta. The FWS proposal says the geese, “are increasingly coming into conflict with people and causing personal and property damage.”
The FWS now is allowed to destroy nests and eggs only between March 1 and June 30. These dates were established in 2005, when the FWS last updated its rules on the management of the Canada geese who stay in one area instead of migrating between the North and South. Now the FWS seeks authority to destroy nests and eggs year round.
The rule change is needed because resident geese are starting to nest in February in the South. Some nests are started later in the year. Therefore, the extension of the nesting season prompted the FWS to, “amend the depredation and control orders to allow destruction of resident Canada goose nests and eggs at any time of year.”
The FWS is an agency of the Department of Interior, which is headed by Secretary Ryan Zinke.
Georgia’s Department of Natural Resources is asking residents to take a different perspective on resident geese – extend them patience:
- “The Georgia Department of Natural Resources’ Wildlife Resources Division (WRD) asks people to be patient with geese during this time of year.”
Geese can’t fly at this time of year. They may flap their wings, but they don’t have the proper feathers to take flight, according to a DNR statement.
“Each summer, in late June and early July, geese go through a molting process during which they lose their flight feathers and are in the process of growing new ones,” Greg Balkcom, a state wildlife biologist, said in the statement. “We find that it is typically this time of year, when the geese are ‘land-bound,’ that the most complaints about goose feces and feathers are reported.”
DNR’s first bit of advice to those who encounter geese is to leave them be:
- “What can you do if you have goose problems? During most times of the year, geese can be scared away with the use of harassment techniques. But, because geese cannot fly during the molt, these techniques may not work.
- “During the molting season, WRD personnel encourage affected landowners and homeowners to be patient. The new feathers will soon grow in, and the geese will regain their ability to fly and will likely move on.”
The statement goes on to remind that geese are a protected species:
- “It is important to remember that Canada geese are a protected species under state and federal law. It is illegal to hunt, kill, sell, purchase or possess Canada geese except according to Georgia’s migratory bird regulations.”
DNR offers two solutions to property owners who want the geese off their land:
- “Harassment: Landowners who don’t want geese on their property can first try a variety of harassment techniques, including chemical repellents, mylar balloons, wire/string barriers, and noise makers. These methods are proven to help reduce goose problems. However, they require consistency from the property owner and are not always 100 percent effective.
- “Relocation or Lethal Methods: Homeowners who want to reduce or eliminate the goose population on their property can obtain a permit from their local WRD Game Management office (georgiawildlife.com/about/contact). This permit allows them to have geese captured and relocated to a suitable area or allows them to legally and lethally remove the animals. The removal can be done by the homeowner or by a licensed nuisance wildlife trapper.”