State may get a license to kill pesky Canada geese

OAKLAND, Calif. (AP) -- A California wildlife agency may soon get the green light to kill pesky Canada geese that have been fouling city parks, golf courses and urban lakes throughout the state.

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has proposed handing over the day-to-day geese management responsibilities to the state Department of Fish and Game, which would have several mitigation options at it's disposal to pursue.

The government would like to reduce the Canada geese population in the Pacific Flyway from the current 218,000 to about 90,000 by 2013.

"They are showing up everywhere and creating a goose paradise," said Judy Felber, a supervising ranger at Fremont's Central Park.

In the San Francisco Bay area, many of the geese make their homes at the Fremont park, Lake Merritt in Oakland and Golden Gate Fields racetrack in Albany. Under the proposal, state wildlife officials would have the freedom to harass the geese, destroy their nests and, if need be, kill them.

Dan Yparraguirre, of the California Department of Fish and Game, says humans are partially to blame for the huge goose influx.

"This problem is the result of human changes in the environment," Yparraguirre told the Oakland Tribune. "We have created an environment that is pro-goose -- and who doesn't enjoy the sight of geese flying over? But when there are hundreds of thousands of them and they are damaging soccer fields and parks, it's a problem."

The precise problem is geese waste. An adult bird can produce a half-pound of fecal matter per day, according to one study. And without many predators staking them out, the geese are finding less reason to migrate out of urban areas.

"Since the geese don't know how to migrate and the living is good -- people feed them, hunters don't hunt them, they've got plenty of grass and water -- the population is increasing," said U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service spokesman Nicholas Throckmorton.

The public comment period for the federal government's proposal ends Oct. 20.

One possible solution to limiting the geese population growth is a technique known as egg shaking.

"Egg shaking destroys the embryo so the egg will not hatch," Yparraguirre said. "If you don't do something to fool the goose, she'll re-nest."

Arthur Feinstein, director of conservation for the Golden Gate Audubon Society, has some reservations about any plans to kill the geese outright as a way to solve the state's problem.

He agrees that the geese are out of balance with the regional ecosystem.

"But what the (government) is proposing is that humans become that balance. That is always pretty risky because we are going to play God and say we know how many geese there should be," Feinstein said.


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