The Canada Goose has long been a recognizable member of the waterfowl flotilla bobbing up and down on Maryland’s many lakes, rivers and ponds. From early childhood we are taught about the winter migration of waterfowl “flying South for the winter” and back North to lay and hatch their young.
As the years past and the occasional nesting pair became nesting flocks, one couldn’t help but wonder if the popular saying failed to make its way to the geese. Year round populations of geese have become a common occurrence in Maryland, going from neat to nuisance for many citizens.
The Resident Goose:
This new emergence of non-migrating geese have created a new term in the wildlife management community, the now infamous “Resident Goose”. These resident geese do just that, reside year round on area water bodies, lawns, golf courses and crop fields. If unharrased, they often roost in the same place night after night and utilize food sources in the immediate area day after day. With a mature goose defecating nearly a pound a day, the damage begins to mount in those areas. Problems including high nitrogen levels in water bodies, damage to crops, landscapes and ball fields from overgrazing, as well as the health hazards attributed to human interaction with their waste.
These geese begin nesting in late February and March with eggs hatching sometime in late April. Average clutch sizes range from 3-6 eggs with females reproducing after 2-3 years of age and sometimes getting very aggressive in defense of their nests during this time period. Sometime in late June to mid July these geese go through a 4-6 week molting period in which they lose their flight feathers and are stuck to the ground with the rest of us. This process goes on year after year with potential ages of resident geese reaching sometimes over 20 years.
These older resident geese have become very wise to the tricks of the hunting community, taking up residence often in uphuntable areas within the urban fringe. Golf course ponds, homeowners association stormwater management areas, local government water features and even tops of buildings often become preferred habitat; see attached video below.
There are a multitude of available management options that may be able to address your individual goose issues, not all of them work as advertised, but non-the-less some do work. Your basic goose control methods are broken down into the following:
- Harassment (dogs, people, sound cannons, etc.)
- Exclusion (Habitat modification, fence construction)
- Lethal (hunting, flightless round-up, egg addling)
Resident goose management can be a very complex and delicate issue, an issue which is just now beginning to make its way to the level currently experienced by suburban deer managers. An entire article can be written on each of the above methods, and we will most likely get into them more in the near future. If you would like more information on your goose management issues feel free to contact Patriot LWM at 240-687-7228 or visit us at www.patriotlwm.com/wildlife-control/
Posted in Habitat Improvement, Videos, Waterfowl, Wildlife Management
Tagged aquatic management, duck, egg addling, geese, hunting, lake management, nesting, nuisance, Patriot LWM, repellants, resident goose, round up, suburban, Waterfowl, wildlife management
Release from the Maryland Department of Natural Resources:
The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and the Maryland Department of Natural Resources (DNR) have released the results of the 2011 Midwinter Waterfowl Survey. Each winter, pilots and biologists from the two agencies count ducks, geese and swans along Maryland’s Chesapeake Bay shoreline and Atlantic coast. In January 2011, survey teams observed 640,700 waterfowl which is lower than the number of waterfowl observed in January 2010 (787,100).
“It is important to remember that the Maryland survey results are ultimately pooled with results from other states to provide a measure of the distribution and population of waterfowl wintering in the Atlantic Flyway,” said Larry Hindman, DNR’s Waterfowl Project Leader. “The survey is conducted in a coordinated manner across the Atlantic Flyway states to provide an annual index of the population size for important waterfowl species like black ducks, Atlantic brant and tundra swans.”
This decline is largely due to the observance of fewer Canada geese and snow geese along bay shoreline habitats. Large numbers of geese likely went undetected at inland locations, which are not covered by the survey. However, wintering Canada geese (397,700) remained high and their numbers were bolstered by geese pushed south by the cold temperatures and heavy snow cover in areas north of Maryland.
Overall, greater numbers of ducks were counted in 2011 (199,300) than last winter (173,700), mainly attributed to higher numbers of mallards (55,600) and canvasbacks (43,600). In addition, exceptional numbers of gadwalls were observed on the submerged aquatic vegetation beds on the Susquehanna Flats.
“Cold weather and the associated heavy snow and ice north of Maryland contributed to higher duck numbers in the Chesapeake,” Hindman said.
The Midwinter Waterfowl Survey has been conducted annually throughout the United States since the early 1950s. The survey provides information on long-term trends in waterfowl.
DNR 2011 Midwinter Waterfowl Survey Results – Click link for full article