Honkers away

The annual goose roundup is about to begin and will cull nearly 3,000 geese out of Twin Cities-area flocks.

June 3, 2009 - 10:14 PM

Love 'em or loath 'em, geese spur strong sentiments this time of year as they congregate around area lakes and parks.

Mother goose and her goslings may be cute. But the adult birds can produce 2 pounds of feces per day, creating health concerns at parks, beaches and golf courses.

Hence, the annual geese roundup.

This year's culling of Canada geese is set to begin later this month and continue through mid-July. More than 50 area cities and park districts contract with one goose buster -- Tom Keefe, a former Department of Natural Resources biologist -- to remove the large grey birds from roughly 100 metro-area locations.

Last year, his team rounded up 2,752 geese: 879 adults and 1,873 goslings. But even that kind of harvest doesn't mean fewer geese year to year. After 20 years of whittling away at a population that peaked at 25,000 in 1994, the annual culling now maintains numbers at around 17,000. This year Keefe again expects to round up nearly 3,000 birds.

"The population in the metro would be ten-fold what it is now if there hadn't been a goose control program,'' said John Moriarty, natural resources manager for Ramsey County Parks.

The effort is not without its detractors. A national group called GeesePeace advocates targeting only eggs and not killing birds. But the people who operate parks and other places frequented by the birds are sold on Keefe's strategy.

How the roundup works

The geese are captured when adults lose their flight feathers and goslings have not yet learned to fly.

For years they were shipped to other states that welcomed them. But since 1996, when they were no longer wanted elsewhere, they have been used for food -- the adult birds processed and donated to local food shelves, the goslings' carcasses going to an animal research center where they are fed to wolves.

The DNR permits goose management and considers it an established routine, said Bryan Lueth, the agency's urban area wildlife manager.


Here are informative articles about humane goose population control measures and other issues brought up in the story above.

  1. For the umpteenth time, geese are not a health threat
  2. Donating goose meat to food banks?
  3. Humane Methods and Success Stories