"Bayou Bill" Scifres
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Wrecking Canada Goose Nests With Reckless Abandon
Copyright © 2004 by Bill Scifres

The season for wrecking goose nests is upon us. 

Not just any goose nest, mind you, but the nest of Canada geese (a k a Canadian geese by those who don't understand quite all they know about the species, nomenclature included).

Yes, after a few thousand suburban doctors, lawyers, and perhaps a few Indian chiefs have stepped barefoot into a small deposit of runny goose droppings when they tippy-toed out on the veranda for the morning newspaper, the powers that have sworn to protect wildlife (this includes Canada geese) are killing them by the thousands (maybe millions) before they even are hatched. 

You see, for at least four years here in Hoosierland (probably much longer in other states because we always lag the field in such maters), we are wrecking Canada goose nests with reckless abandon.  (See DFW table attached.)

If you have a Canada goose nest somewhere you don't like, you can get a permit from your Division of Fish and Wildlife (DFW) to wreck the nest (eggs). Wreck the same nest without a permit and you could be subject to a very stiff fine if found guilty in a federal court . . .  (Yea! Go get 'em, Sam.)

The proceedings, in their entirety, are more than a little stupid. Moreover, they maximize the fact that management of natural and wildlife resources today seldom addresses the welfare of the resource, but rather the desires of people who for some reason abhorrently view the resource in question.

Most of the people in our DFW and their mentors (those of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service) have not the slightest inkling of why we have all of these Canada geese messing up verandas, sidewalks and lush stands of grass, or building nests on doorsteps.

You see, Canada geese did not necessarily want to come here. We brought them (probably much to their dismay). Yes, we sent biologists to the hinterlands of Canada to collect eggs and bring them here for hatching . . . Yes, we brought in young Canada geese, pinned their wings so they couldn't fly away and placed them on out-of-the-way ponds so they would establish homing instincts . . . Yes, we did, indeed, establish numerous resident flocks of Canada geese around the state so we would have more geese here for hunting.

Incidentally, some 30 years back when the resident flock of geese was established at Atterbury State Fish and Wildlife Area (the first successful effort in the state), the birds took little time in finding nearby ponds, lakes, farm fields, sidewalks and verandas. Gates to private lands that had not been open to hunting before suddenly swung wide to hunters.

Having resident flocks of Canada geese in our state is important for several reasons, the most important being that they create many hunting opportunities which generate much food (notwithstanding the notion that goose is greasy), and no small kick to numerous areas of the economy. Shotguns, ammunition, decoys, hunting gear, gasoline to get where the geese are, and other expenditures connected with the "sport" do not come cheaply.

As one biologist of the DFW tells me: This business of wrecking Canada goose nest is not as bad as it may seem. Frankly, I do not know how it could be any worse, but this biologist says most of the goose-nest wrecking is done in areas where they can't be hunted (thinned out).

That is all well and good, but before that first goose nest was wrecked because it was inconvenient to man, did anybody consider the alternatives?

Alternatives may well have been considered. But since goose nest wrecking is going to impact adversely on the species no more than hunting pressure has, it appears to be little more than a publicity stunt to make folks think the resource managers (state and federal) are taking some action. Resource be damned!

I know one Hoosier who considered the alternatives when he was having problems with geese on a wildlife area that carries the name of one of our state's most gifted waterfowl biologists.

The thinking man is Don Roberts, Schererville, Indiana president of Waterfowl USA. In the spring of 1994 Roberts was working at Waterfowl USA's Sporre Wildlife Area near the town of Leroy. The area honors the memory of the late Tom Sporre.

Roberts was planting arrow arum, a plant that offers food for waterfowl, in an area near the shore of a small lake. But the Canada geese kept pulling up the plants almost as fast as he planted them.

After three or four unsuccessful plantings, Roberts said he remembered that somewhere along the line he had heard that Canada geese were afraid of snakes. He hurried home, cut some black garden hose up into six-foot lengths, painted some brown spots on them, and created a head for each "snake" with pieces of corncob. Roberts coiled three of his bogus snakes among the plants, and the geese shunned the area religiously.

A Modest Proposal: Instead of issuing nest-destruction permits to those having problems with geese, perhaps the DFW should make pythons, rattlesnakes, cobras and copperheads available on a loan plan. If that won't work perhaps nest-wrecking permits should be issued to anyone having a nest on the Lazy Susan of the dining-room table . . . if the applicant has viewed the magnificent muscular structure of a honker on a point-blank flyby.

Click on thumbnail photo to see enlarged image.

A Canada goose sits on egg in a happy place . . . a small island.

Canada goose control activities conducted by Indiana during the nesting seasons 2000 - 2003.
Year No. Counties No. Permits Issued  No. Nests Destroyed No. Eggs Destroyed
2000 25 94 525 2712
2001 32 101 518 2671
2002 28 118 473 2746
2003 29 153 725 3827

Within a 3-year period, the number of permits issued, and number of nests and eggs destroyed has increased 63%, 39%, and 41% respectively.  Results from 2003 for permits issued and number of nests and eggs destroyed increased 31%, 29%, and 28% respectively when compared to the 4-year average.

All columns, essays, and photos are copyrighted by Bill Scifres and may not be reproduced in any form without prior permission from the author.  For reproduction permission and media usage fees, contact: Bill Scifres, 6420 East 116th Street, Fishers, IN 46038, E-mail: billscifres@aol.com

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