Of course these same biologists never mention it was hunting that nearly brought the geese to extinction in the first place. (That, along with loss and destruction of natural habitat.)
In actual fact, Canada geese represent one of the species most victimized and villanized by wildlife mismanagement programs.
First, by the fact Canada geese were almost hunted to extinction in the last century.
Secondly, by the fact captive breeding and release altered many of the geese's natural behaviors, instincts, family structures and natural fears of humans.
Thirdly, by creating a semi-tame bird that was comfortable and acclimated to living in human populated environments (thereby causing ire and "nuisance complaints" all around the country as we see today).
And forth (and perhaps most significant of all) by now blaming and scapegoating the geese for the mistakes we in fact have made through our almost constant "mismanagement" of them.
It is interesting that on the same day we read an outdoors column celebrating the "success" of wildlife management programs creating many more thousands of geese for hunters to shoot, another article out of Wisconsin cites that it is precisely hunting that sends geese fleeing to urban parks to escape hunters guns.
According to Brad Koele, Wildlife Damage and Nuisance Specialist for the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources, "Geese and their droppings is becoming more common in municipalities because geese are heading to areas where they know they won't be shot by hunters." (Emphasis supplied.)
This statement comes out of an article otherwise bemoaning the presence of geese in urban parks and various attempts to "harass" them.
In essence, both resident and migratory geese are endlessly harassed, culled and targeted in urban locations from parks to golf courses, while at the same time, they are relentlessly and joyfully hunted in more natural rural and wetlands areas.
It seems that doesn't leave many "safe" locations in the USA geese can actually go and breathe.
This is not of course my first blog entry complaining about "mismanagement" of Canada geese and it surely will not be the last.
But, it is not enough to merely complain and not offer solution:
It seems that if we tap into our actual knowledge about geese (as well as utilize common sense) then the first step that should be taken to correctly and humanely "manage" goose population would first be to severely limit and restrict the hunting of these birds in natural habitats.
This would seem to encourage the birds escaping to urban areas to instead return to safe and protected natural areas where they don't have to constantly fear and flee from hailing bullets.
Now, of course, one can almost hear every wildlife biologist and hunter screaming at the top of their lungs that without hunting, the Canada goose population would "explode."
But, isn't that precisely the main complaint now -- despite all the killing and "management?"
It would seem to suggest that if something is clearly not working, it is time to try something else. In some cases, "the hair of the dog," so to speak -- or what might in fact seem contrary to popular "wisdom."
Regarding the claim that the goose population would "explode" if not continually hunted or culled, the fact that endless killing does not seem to "work" in sufficiently containing the population to human desire, seems to suggest that geese (like coyotes) are a species that "compensates to predation."
The more they are preyed upon, the more they breed and the more clever geese become on both, hiding nests and protecting their young.
However, since geese are intelligent animals who are very in tuned with their environments, its actually unlikely that they would breed beyond the environment's ability to support their population. Geese after all are not rodents or rabbits. Geese only reproduce once a year and not all adult geese (even pairs) actually breed.
As for those very human-oriented ("pet-like") geese attempting
to remain or procreate in urban parks, measures need to be undertaken for "birth control" just as we do for actual pets like cats and dogs. Such measures could include egg addling, use of Ovo-control or even the introduction of raccoons (i.e. natural "predators") that are notorious for stealing eggs.
What seems abundantly clear in more than a century's "mismanagement" of Canada geese is that we need to "think differently" (to borrow Apple's famous logo) in terms of both, preventing airline collisions with birds and so-called "nuisance complaints" associated with any wildlife and in this case particularly, Canada geese.
In terms of airline collisions with birds, the fact is, (as with anything) "Where there's a will, there's a way."
The problem is there has not been the will to sufficiently develop technologies that would utilize our knowledge of birds abilities to detect UV light or perfect avian radar to either warn birds of planes in the air or pilots of birds in flight. That is because the acceptable "way" has mostly been just to kill birds.
But, the fact is, we can never kill every bird that flies, and so the will needs to be there to "think differently" just as it has been in the technological and computer industries that have so progressed at lightening speed and advanced civilization over the past several decades.
But, nothing advances as long as we keep seeking easy scapegoats for problems and refuse to move from old and outdated "ways" of thinking such as endless and ultimately ineffective killing.
The reality is we could kill every Canada goose in America and it could be a pelican, eagle, cormorant or flock of starlings that ultimately takes down a plane.
We are simply scapegoating and killing certain species of birds, instead of addressing how to avoid bird strikes in the first place.
It could be said that we stand on a kind of precipice now in terms of our relationships with the other species on our planet.
The history of our "management" of and relationship with Canada geese has been an extremely sorry and shameful one -- certainly not something to brag about as too many "biologists" insist on doing long after the facts contradict their claims.
In truth, our "management" of Canada geese has been no "success" at all, but rather a repetitive poster child in history of wildlife mismanagement.
It is past time to turn the page on this debacle and start to "think differently" both for the sake of the geese, as well as the welfare of our planet and our own specie's relationship to it. -- PCA