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E-M:/ Canada geese
The recent message from "johnstom" at the DEQ is quite right in
that part of the problem with Canada geese is that they feed in areas away
from bodies of water,like agricultural fields,then import those nutrients
(in the form of feces) to the state's waters.
There are a couple of other aspects to this problem. One is that,
in many places, new grazing habitat in the form of lawns has been created
for the geese (who like to feed in areas of open short grass), and at
least some of this habitat is contiguous to natural bodies of water. (I'm
not so concerned here about little artificial ponds with no outlets.)
Where there is new habitat next to natural bodies of water, the geese move
right in ("if you mow it, they will come"). Now, instead of a natural
floodplain forest or shrub belt bordering a river, say, you have goose
habitat. Those geese are probably spending part of their time grazing
elsewhere (like farm fields) and importing those nutrients into these nice
smooth lawns, where the nutrients readily run off into the river (in
addition,of course, to the nutrients being applied directly to the lawns
by the park supervisors). Instead of long-lived vegetation and
high-organic-content soils bordering the river, which would have
sequestered nutrients and slowed their rate of supply to the water, you
now have continual direct additions of nutrients to the water, and an
"ecosystem" (the lawn) which readily allows quick runoff. Thus the
problem is not just nutrient addition, but a change in the rates of
Also, feeding of Canada geese provides more nutrient input,
and,further, encourages some of these flocks not to migrate, so they are
now year-round nutrient adders, not just seasonal ones. The feeding and
other "care" by humans has also resulted in large increases in the
populations of Canada geese.
These large birds are quite aggressive and
are very difficult to get rid of once they have colonized an area. Simple
ideas like fake crocodiles and balloons very quickly lose their
effectiveness, as the birds quickly realize that they pose no threat. A
couple of years ago there was an article in Smithsonian magazine about the
problem of scaring off geese; apparently one tactic that worked was the
keeping of border collies on the property. The dogs continually herd the
geese into the water and thus keep them from feeding.
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