Harvesting Not Enough to Control Canada Goose Numbers

By Joshua Rapp Learn

Image Credit: Don DeBold, licensed by cc 2.0

Hunting alone may not be enough to control the growth of the non-migratory Canada goose population in Connecticut, according to a new study.

Michael Conover, lead author of a study recently published in the Journal of Wildlife Management and a professor of wildland resources at Utah State University, looked at the numbers of non-migratory Canada geese harvested from 1984 to 2001 in the New England state. Over this 17-year period, state wildlife officials implemented several special hunting seasons. The researchers banded 1,845 geese in New Haven County and of the 344 recovered banded birds for which the cause of death could be determined, around 90 percent were harvested by hunters.

Yet, the state’s population of non-migratory geese is increasing, according to the study. Others studies found that the population of non-migratory Canada geese has increased 15-fold during the last three decades in North America. Conover said that harvesting in the study area wasn’t enough to keep the population from increasing in size.

This is good news, he said, in that it shows the state has ample recreational harvesting opportunities. Still, people have mixed feelings about whether they want goose populations to grow or stay at present levels.

“Society is divided about these urban Canada geese. Some people like them, some people hate them with a passion.”

The authors found that the management implications of the study are that hunting alone isn’t enough to control population expansions of non-migratory geese. Other techniques like nest destruction and relocating gosling to rural areas, or culling may be necessary to reduce the problems the geese cause in urban areas.

Joshua LearnJoshua Rapp Learn is a science writer at The Wildlife Society.

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