A caller to the "Mike McFeely Show" on 790 KFGO yesterday asked about some Canada geese being rounded up in north Moorhead. The birds, both adult and goslings, were being put in pens in the back of a pickup and taken away. He wondered why this was happening. So I made a couple of phone calls and sent a couple of e-mails. Here is what I found out:
Don Schultz, the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources area wildlife manager in Fergus Falls, didn't know specifically about geese being removed from north Moorhead this week, but said he would not be surprised because in the past American Crystal Sugar and the city of Moorhead has contracted with a firm out of the Twin Cities called Canada Goose Management Inc. to reduce numbers of geese in specific areas. Just this spring, according to Schultz, Canada goose nests and eggs were removed from the Meadows Golf Course in Moorhead.
This is a good time of the year for goose removal because adults cannot fly and the goslings are not yet old enough to fly, according to Schultz.
Schultz said Canada Goose Management Inc. is the only company in Minnesota that does such removal. The DNR has issued a "blanket permit" to CGMI that allows the company to contract with governments, airports, corporations and private landowners to remove geese, nests and/or eggs.
Canada geese are often a nuisance to cities, parks, farmers, golf courses, homeowners, etc., when their population explodes. They destroy grass, can get aggressive and their waste is a mess.
Schultz said the adults rounded up are often donated to food shelves. He didn't know what becomes of the goslings, although the caller to yesterday's show said he was told the young geese were made into rabbit food.
I sent an e-mail to Tom Keefe, president of Canada Goose Management Inc., but have not yet heard back. I will update if I do hear from Tom.
The observation I shared on the air yesterday about Canada geese being somewhat rare when I was a kid in the 1970s and now being all-too-common was accurate.
Giant Canada geese, in fact, were thought to have disappeared from the U.S. after decades of overharvest, nest-robbing and habitat loss following white man's settlement of North America. But biologist Harold Hanson of Illinois discovered what was believed to be the last remaining flock of giant Canadas in Rochester, Minn., in 1962. From there, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, their Canadian counterparts, the DNR and countless sportsman's clubs around Minnesota worked to re-establish Canada goose populations. It worked. The population has recovered to the point that today, more than 40 percent of all animal nuisance complaints received by the DNR have to do with Canada geese.
Funny though, away from cities and parks Canada geese are still considered an extremely wary game bird and for many people represent a "trophy" kill for many hunters.