Re: NANFA-- more on geese - way more

Jeremy Tiemann (
Mon, 21 Apr 2003 08:23:26 -0500

For those of you who want some "great" bathroom reading, I did (in a
hurried manner) a resident Canada goose report (a mock manuscript)
for wildlife management. Here is the intro and discussion for that:


The number of resident Canada geese (Branta canadensis) breeding in
the continental United States has increased exponentially in the past
five decades (Caccamise et al. 2000). Two reasons for this include
introductions of Canada geese through transplanting programs,
releasing live decoys, or escapes from captivity programs (Hope,
2000), and replacement of natural landscapes with "enticing,
non-natural, suburban environments" (Roberts 1996). Examples of such
environments are city parks and golf courses, which provide ample
foraging opportunities for resident Canada geese, and prevent
predators, including hunters, from ambushing unsuspecting geese.
Nesting resident Canada geese have higher gosling survival rates due
to lack of predators and milder weather than the native breeding
grounds of the arctic tundra (Roberts 1996). Also, resident Canada
geese begin breeding at age two instead of age four or five, the age
at which true migrants breed (Caccamise et al. 2000). Because of the
strong family bond geese have, problems of overpopulation arise when
mature goslings return to and reside near the hatch site. Caccamise
et al. (2000) predicted that the resident Canada geese population for
the United States will continue to increase exponentially until a
control measure is implemented.

Resident Canada geese have been labeled as a nuisance because they
are very territorial, and typically will not leave a place once they
establish themselves (Castelli and Sleggs 2000). These geese go to
extremes to protect themselves, their nests, and their goslings
(Loker et al. 1999). As a result, there have been numerous conflicts
between resident Canada geese and people in agricultural and
recreational settings, with documented goose attacks on humans
(Caccamise et al. 2000). Manny et al. (1994) stated that widespread
damage, such as overgrazing of lawns and contamination of drinking
water through defecation, results when Canada geese take up residence
in suburban areas. Blackwell et al. (1999) reported that, in
September 1995, an AWACS aircraft crashed upon takeoff at Elmendorf
Air Force Base, Alaska, after colliding with Canada geese, killing 24
people and causing $190 million in damages. To help combat the
number of nuisance Canada geese, wildlife managers have used a
variety of methods, ranging from non-lethal tactics, including
harassment with border collies and noisemakers, to lethal treatments,
such as poisons and special Canada goose hunting seasons (Blackwell
et al. 1999, Castelli and Sleggs 2000).

From the 1950s through the 1980s, Kansas Department of Wildlife and
Parks (KDWP) implemented efforts to establish nesting resident Canada
geese in Kansas by releasing pairs of geese throughout the state
(Busby and Zimmerman, 2001). Kansas Department of Wildlife and
Parks' goal was to achieve a population density index of X geese per
kilometer statewide, with distributions varying according to hunting
region (Table 1). Because of the high success of resident Canada
geese in large urban areas in Kansas, KDWP has implemented a special
September hunting season in two of the five hunting regions. The
Kansas City Zone in Region 2, and the Wichita Zone in Region 4 have a
special 12-day September hunt to assist with efforts to limit the
concentrations of resident Canada geese in city parks and other urban

The potential for future expansion of resident Canada geese has
intensified the need for a comprehensive plan that will provide
guidelines for future management of resident Canada geese in Kansas.
The population status of resident Canada geese is well documented in
the Atlantic Flyway, the Mississippi Flyway, and the northern
territories/states of the Central Flyway (Alberta, Saskatchewan,
Montana, North Dakota, Wyoming, and South Dakota) (Roberts 1996,
Caccamise et al. 2000). However, little is known about the
population status of resident Canada geese in the southern states of
the Central Flyway, including Kansas. The purpose of our study was
to acquire basic knowledge concerning the status of resident Canada
geese in Kansas to allow KDWP to properly manage these geese from
becoming a nuisance in the state. We analyzed data from the Kansas
Department of Wildlife and Parks' resident Canada goose surveys for
each of the years 1996 through 2001 to determine whether the mean
number of resident Canada geese per kilometer increased or decreased
in Kansas during that six-year period.


Results of the resident Canada goose survey will provide KDWP with
information on the number of resident Canada geese in Kansas, and
will help the agency modify management goals and strategies for
resident Canada geese in the state. Overall, there were no signs of
a significant trend in the statewide resident Canada goose
population. Therefore, we suggest that KDWP does not need to
implement any new special resident Canada goose hunting seasons to
help control geese populations. Because the resident Canada goose
population seems to be stable in Region 2 and Region 4 (the regions
with the special September hunting season), we recommend that KDWP
not remove the special resident Canada goose hunting season already
in place in these regions.

The resident Canada goose population in Kansas appears to be stable.
One possible reason for this could be due to hunting. Heusmann
(1999) suggested that resident Canada geese are most susceptible to
the early portion of Canada goose season, prior to the arrival of
migrants. Nationwide, Kansas has one of the longest Canada goose
hunting seasons (14 weeks), and one of the largest bag limits (three
Canada geese per day). Heusmann (1999) reported a significant
negative correlation between harvest and population size of resident
Canada geese in Massachusetts from 1991 through 1997. Because
harvest rate is an important factor affecting population trends, KDWP
can adjust the harvest regulations, or alter their refuge management
strategies for future population control measures.
Another possible reason of controlling the numbers resident Canada
geese in Kansas is nest predation. Lariviere and Messier (1996)
reported that waterfowl production in the prairie region is severely
limited by mammalian predation on eggs. Rural areas typically have a
reduction in visibility for nesting geese because of the lack of
well-manicured areas, whereas urban areas, like the Kansas City Zone,
normally provide geese with visibility in all directions due to
trimmed lawns (Roberts 1996). As a result, resident Canada geese
nesting in rural areas typically do not have as great an opportunity
to detect and effectively defend their nests from mammalian predators
as do geese nesting in urban areas. Therefore, it should be expected
that geese in rural areas would not have as high a nesting success as
do geese in urban areas.

Because urban areas provide ample foraging opportunities for resident
Canada geese, and offer a refuge for geese by preventing hunters from
harvesting the birds (Roberts 1996; Castelli and Sleggs 2000), KDWP
should not remove the special September goose hunting seasons in the
Kansas City Zone (Region 2) and the Wichita Zone (Region 4).
Heusmann (1999) proposed that special resident Canada goose seasons
are an important tool in the management of growing geese populations.
During the September 1996 and January 1997 special resident Canada
goose hunting seasons in Massachusetts, hunters harvested 25% of the
state's resident Canada geese (Heusmann 1999). During September, few
resident Canada geese leave their nesting areas, and few migrants
have yet to enter Kansas. The special hunting season in these two
regions appear to be helping control the numbers of resident Canada
geese in these urban areas. Continuation of the special resident
Canada goose September hunt in Region 2 and Region 4 should allow
continued success of the harvesting of the geese, which should
prevent them from becoming a nuisance.

If the population of resident Canada geese fall below KDWP's goal,
KDWP can manage for increased numbers of resident Canada geese. One
method of for increased number of resident Canada geese is delaying
the Canada goose season opener until migrants arrive might be
considered. Effective goose refuges can increase survival of
resident Canada geese, and can be the most desirable method of
limiting mortality (Brakhage et al. 1987). Providing sufficient
nesting sites and food crops can be an effective method of increasing
resident Canada goose numbers. Involving private citizens and
sportsman groups, in addition to effective management on public
wildlife refuges, should provide a substantial population of resident
Canada geese in Kansas.

Jeremy Tiemann
Illinois Natural History Survey
Center for Biodiversity
607 E. Peabody Dr.
Champaign, IL 61820
Phone: (217) 244-4594
Fax: (217) 333-4949
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