Anatomy of a Goose Round Up

Annually, during late June through July, MassWildlife biologists conduct goose round-ups wherever large flocks of resident Canada geese are found: cemeteries, parks, golf courses, beaches, and residential neighborhoods. The purpose of this activity is to capture Canada geese, place leg bands on them and record information from any captured birds that already have leg bands from previous years. This information is used to help waterfowl biologists estimate populations and other demographics. The birds are then released back onsite.

At this time of year, most adult geese have moulted (shed) their flight feathers and are unable to fly. Adult geese and their goslings (young geese) congregate on water bodies for protection and graze on grasses and other young green growth within walking distance of water. This is a window of opportunity for biologists to capture the birds, band them and then release them. 

To capture the birds, biologists set up a temporary goose weir consisting of a long net hung on poles pounded into the ground. Meanwhile, other staff will try to get geese flocked together and when the fencing is complete, herd them towards the wier. Sometimes this entails several people in canoes that move the whole flock up on to the grass near the weir. Personnel stationed on the ground clap, wave a paddle and assist in herding the birds into the weir. Once the flock is safely within the weir, the net is closed and the birds are confined. Most of the time, all goes well, but there are times when the geese manage to avoid the staff and get away.

Once confined, the biologists takes a bird from the flock, determines the bird's age and gender, then places a leg band on the bird. After the leg band is in place, the biologist lets the bird go. Some of the geese may already be banded, in that case, the information is also recorded and the bird released. Once the birds are all banded and released, the nets are folded up, the stakes up-rooted and the crew piles back into the trucks and head to the next water body.