Although large geese populations (goose grief) can be dealt with using various tactics, geese tend to move elsewhere, bringing problems to that area. To achieve a reasonable comfort level for both geese and people, the number of geese must be reduced.
Studies by biologists show that the most efficient way to reduce the size of a flock is to increase mortality of adult geese--resulting in fewer birds laying eggs and adding fewer goslings to the population.
Geese have been hunted in New England for centuries and their tasty meat is prized by many. All migratory birds, including Canada geese, are protected by an international migratory bird treaty. Hunting migratory birds is allowed; by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.
States may add restrictions and towns sometimes impose additional bylaws. When local ordinances become so restrictive that they effectively prohibit hunting, towns inadvertently create "sanctuaries" for geese, and the buildup of flocks can cause problems. In 1995, the Massachusetts Fisheries & Wildlife Board instituted special "early" and "late" goose seasons designed to reduce the resident goose population. Data suggested that 25% of the resident goose population was harvested, but recent studies indicate that for populations to be controlled, at least 30-35% need to be harvested annually.
There are creative solutions to allow for hunting geese, even in towns with restrictions. Golf clubs and race tracks invite waterfowlers on to their grounds during hunting season at designated hours. Fire and police departments use their networks to find waterfowl hunters to hunt municipal properties and reservoirs within certain guidelines beyond state and federal laws. Landowners open their lands to hunters willing to abide by any restrictions he or she may impose. Property owners with goose problems can contact local sportsmen's clubs, municipal departments or their state Environmental Police Officer to find potential sportsmen and women who hunt waterfowl.
In some areas of Massachusetts, numbers of resident Canada geese and their droppings have overwhelmed homeowners, municipal parks, golf courses and other property owners and tenants. Fencing, feeding prohibitions, hunting and other tactics should be the first efforts to vigorously pursue in preventing further problems.
In some urban situations, egg addling is another tool that may reduce the number of goslings that hatch in a problem area. Addling is a means of preventing eggs from hatching by shaking, puncturing, oiling, or freezing eggs and returning them to the nest. Spraying or dipping the eggs in corn oil is the simplest and most often used approach. Simply breaking up the clutch of eggs is not desirable because geese often renest (lay more eggs). The biggest challenge in addling eggs is finding goose nests, even in urban locations.
It's important to understand that the presence of Canada geese is not a sufficient reason to acquire a permit to addle eggs; there must be a reasonable basis for addling eggs, such as property damage.
In order to legally addle goose eggs, a permit is required. Landowners are required to apply for a a free Egg Addling Permit from MassWildlife. An annual report must also be submitted detailing the number of nests and eggs that were addled.
For more details, see the Egg Addling FAQ .
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