Oklahoma September hunt for resident Canada geese

Wednesday, August 30th 2000, 12:00 am
By: News On 6

As a way to manage the resident population of giant Canada geese, the Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation will hold a special, experimental Canada goose season Sept. 9-17. The daily bag limit will be three birds.

The experimental season is being held to provide additional hunting opportunity as a tool for managing the state's population of locally breeding Canada geese, said Mike O'Meilia, the Department's migratory bird biologist. The Department and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service will evaluate the experimental season to determine its effectiveness in managing numbers and distribution of resident Canada geese and any potential effects on migrant populations of Canada geese.

"Over the last 20 years, populations of resident Canada geese have increased significantly in many areas of the country, including Central Flyway states such as Oklahoma," O'Meilia said. "In some areas, populations have reached sufficient size to cause considerable conflicts with human populations." As a result, the Service and the states are looking at additional management options to resolve these conflicts. As part of this effort, the Service is preparing a comprehensive Environmental Impact Statement on management of resident Canada geese that will utilize stepdown management plans for each flyway.

"Hunting is our best tool for managing populations of game animals that exceed either the social or environmental carrying capacity of an area," O'Meilia added. "In the case of resident Canada geese, it is largely an issue of what people are willing to tolerate".

Most resident Canada geese are not migratory, but are year-round residents of very specific locations. Among the complaints associated with the birds are damage to personal and public property, as well as concerns for public health and safety. An adult Canada goose can leave up to a quarter-pound of droppings per day on beaches, parks, golf courses and other areas where people gather. There's also a very significant and dangerous risk of aircraft strikes with these birds near airports.

"Unfortunately, many of the problems associated with resident Canada goose populations are a direct result of human influences on goose behavior," O'Meilia said "Feeding Canada geese is the number one reason why the birds congregate in areas used by people. Feeding alters the birds natural wild behavior and conditions the birds to seek out areas that result in conflicts with humans."

Hunters who participate in the special resident Canada goose season must have a resident or non-resident hunting license, a 2000 Oklahoma waterfowl hunting permit, a 2000 federal duck stamp and a HIP permit. Lifetime license holders do not need the Oklahoma waterfowl hunting permit. Hunters willing to participate in a special survey (collecting goose tail fans and wingtips) to determine composition of the September season harvest are asked to call the Department at 405-521-3563.