July 2, 2015
Geese donated to Stark County Hunger Task Force
The city’s Canada goose population will help feed the county’s hungry, according to city and state officials.
City park personnel rounded up 310 Canada geese in the city parks Tuesday, took them to a Holmes County poultry packaging plant and donated them to the Stark County Hunger Task Force, parks director Derek Gordon said Thursday.
The roundup was a culmination of years of goose-reduction efforts requested by the Park Commission “and in line with the Ohio Division of Wildlife standards,” Gordon said.
Laurie Graber, wildlife research technician with the Ohio Division of Natural Resources’ Division of Wildlife, was also at Stadium, Monument and Waterworks parks during the roundup, which followed numerous state-approved harassment techniques designed to get the geese to leave the area.
Gordon said those techniques included using laser pointers to distract the geese and lead them out of the park and egg-shaking, which is done by permit. Although a roundup such as Tuesday’s hasn’t been done in nearly a decade, the city has been following the harassment protocol, which involved techniques recommended by the state wildlife division.
The effort began at 7 and was completed by 9:30 a.m. with about a dozen parks employees surrounding the geese and moving toward them, forcing them to walk into pens. The pens were loaded onto trucks and then driven to Pleasant Valley Poultry in Millersburg, Gordon said.
Typically, park employees bring their dogs to chase the geese out of the parks, but they didn’t need the dogs this time because the birds’ wings had already molted, Gordon said. The Canada goose typically loses its feathers in June, rendering it unable to fly.
“We left the goslings,” he said. “There weren’t that many. But any goslings that were there, we left alone.”
The cost for the entire process was about $2,500, most of which went to “the processing and packaging for the donation to the Hunger Task Force. We had our employees for the work, so we were able to save quite a bit of money,” Gordon said.
City workers plan to continue harassment techniques to keep the population down.
“We are extremely overpopulated,” Gordon said. “(The geese) get very aggressive and, when they overpopulate, not only do they create a mess, we don’t want to see them getting hit by vehicles on Stadium Park Drive or on Fulton Avenue and Monument Park Drive when they cross. And there’s really no natural predator to keep their numbers at a natural level...”
The open water attracts the birds and well-meaning park visitors won’t stop feeding them.
The park district would’ve preferred to relocate the geese rather than to kill them, “but the ODNR no longer allows that,” Gordon said. “Additionally, because of the bird flu, they don’t want to relocate them for the possibility of transmission.”
Although park and ODNR officials have no official estimate of Canada geese in Stark County, Gordon said, Tuesday’s eradication effort “doesn’t really even scratch the surface of what we have throughout the park system.”
Graber said that when employees left the park, there were at least 30 birds in the particular part of the park where they’d been working, and across the street in Veterans Park, another 50 to 75 birds moved about.
“We didn’t have enough vehicles for transportation of the birds,” she said.
PROTECTED, NOT ENDANGERED
Canada geese are a protected species, not an endangered one.
The Ohio State University Extension website at http://ohioline.osu.edu said hunting, unrestricted egg harvesting and draining of wetlands for crops caused “a serious decline” in the population in the 19th century.
Before 1950, the Canada geese would fly into Ohio primarily only during winter, according to the ODNR website at www.ohiodnr.gov. The agency began to help establish a flock in Ohio.
“Back in the early ‘90s, there really weren’t any geese around,” Graber said. “We made these refuges to get the goose population started in Ohio ,and from there it just exploded over the years.”
The ODNR website said the spring 2012 statewide population estimate was 147,718.
Now her office, which covers 19 of Ohio’s 88 counties, must issue five to 10 nuisance permits annually — always in June because the birds’ feather loss renders them unable to fly.
The Canada goose is protected under the Federal Migratory Bird Treaty Act, regulated by the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Services, which oversees water fowl and other migratory species, Graber said.
The birds can be killed during hunting season or by ODNR-issued nuisance permits — March 11 through Aug. 31.
Without a permit, Graber said, “It’s a federal violation. Everything about a goose is protected: the goose, the goslings, their eggs,... If a feather falls on the ground, legally you can’t pick up a feather and keep it.
“And that’s for all migratory birds: Blue Jays, hawks...”
Reach Lori at 330-580-8309 or
On Twitter: @lmonsewiczREP
COMMENT FROM CANADA GOOSE HALL OF SHAME:
Countless cities have been successful at controlling Canada geese populations by using humane methods. Cities that continue to murder innocent geese have not explored all methods to humanely exist with geese. Read about how Seattle has managed to co-exist with Canada Geese:
If Seattle can do it, so can Canton, OH!