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GLIN==> STUDY TO EXPLORE STRATEGIES FOR COPING WITH RESIDENT CANA...




--------------- cc:Mail Forwarded ---------------
From:     NEWS@fws.gov AT FWS
Date:     08/19/99 02:30 PM
To:       fws-news@www.fws.gov AT FWS
Subject:  STUDY TO EXPLORE STRATEGIES FOR COPING WITH RESIDENT CANA...



August 19, 1999                      Chris Tollefson
202-208-5634

     STUDY TO EXPLORE STRATEGIES FOR COPING WITH RESIDENT CANADA GOOSE
                    POPULATIONS

In an effort to reduce human conflicts with resident Canada
goose
populations in urban and suburban communities, the U.S. Fish
and
Wildlife Service announced today that it has begun to develop a nationwide
management strategy for resident Canada geese.

The Service published a notice in today's Federal Register of
its
intent to study ways to control and manage increasing
populations
of resident Canada geese that pose a threat to human health or safety, or
that cause damage to personal and public property.
An
Environmental Impact Statement will be prepared with the goal
of
providing states with more management flexibility and authority to deal
with resident Canada goose populations, while establishing criteria for
population goals and objectives, management planning and population
monitoring.

"Over the years, the Service has repeatedly taken action to address
immediate problems caused by resident goose populations in our communities.
But with populations continually
multiplying
across the nation, we recognize that new and innovative strategies will
have to be developed to protect the public and ensure the long-term health
of these waterfowl," said Acting Service Director John Rogers. "Our goal is
to develop a
long-term
strategy to integrate management of these birds with other federal and
state agency efforts, as well as our existing waterfowl flyway system."

Most Canada goose populations are migratory, wintering in the southern
United States and migrating north to summer breeding grounds in the
Canadian arctic. But increasing urban and
suburban
development in the U.S. has resulted in the creation of ideal goose habitat
conditions--park-like open areas with short grass adjacent to small bodies
of water--resulting in growing numbers of locally-breeding geese that live
year round on golf courses, parks, airports and other public and private
property.

In temperate climates across the United States, these places provide geese
with relatively stable breeding habitat and low numbers of predators. In
addition, hunting is usually not
allowed
in urban and suburban areas, restricting the ability of state
and
local authorities to control populations using traditional methods. Those
resident populations that do migrate often fly only short distances
compared to their migratory relatives that breed in Canada. For these
reasons, resident Canada goose populations enjoy consistently high
reproduction and survival rates.
In recent years, biologists have documented tremendous
increases
in populations of Canada geese that nest predominantly within
the
United States. Recent surveys suggest that the Nation's
resident
breeding population now exceeds 1 million birds in both the Atlantic and
the Mississippi flyways and is continuing to increase. In the Mississippi
Flyway alone, the 1998 spring
Canada
goose population estimate exceeded 1.1 million birds, an
increase
of 21 percent from 1997.

Resident Canada goose populations are increasingly coming into conflict
with human activities in many parts of the country. In parks and other open
areas near water, large goose flocks
denude
lawns of vegetation and create conflicts with their droppings
and
feather litter. Goose droppings in heavy concentrations can overfertilize
lawns, contribute to excessive algae growth in lakes that can result in
fish kills, and potentially
contaminate
municipal water supplies. Geese have also been involved in a growing number
of aircraft strikes at airports across the country, resulting in dangerous
takeoff and landing conditions and costly repairs.

For decades, the Service attempted to address the problem by adjusting
hunting season frameworks and issuing control permits on a case-by-case
basis. But hunting restrictions in most urban and suburban communities have
limited efforts to increase the harvest of resident geese, and the Service
has been overwhelmed by requests for control permits. For example, the
Service's Midwest region issued 149 permits authorizing resident Canada
goose control efforts in 1994, including trapping and
relocation,
egg and nest destruction, and take of adults. In 1998, the
region
issued 225 permits. All of the Service's regions report similar growth in
the number of requests for permits.

On June 17, the Service created a new special Canada goose
permit
that gives state wildlife agencies the opportunity to design their own
management programs and to take actions to control specific resident goose
populations without having to seek a separate permit from the Service for
each action. Designed to give states greater flexibility to respond to
specific problems with resident geese, the new permit should satisfy the
need for an efficient short-term management program until a
comprehensive
long-term management strategy can be developed and implemented.

The Service has identified a series of potential alternatives
for
dealing with resident Canada goose conflicts that could be evaluated in the
EIS. Potential options include non-lethal methods such as managing habitat
to make it less attractive to geese; harassment, trapping and relocation of
birds; as well as more direct population stabilization and reduction
programs.

The final set of alternatives to be analyzed in the EIS will be determined
based on comments received during a public scoping process that began with
publication of today's Federal Register notice.

Public scoping meetings will be held in states experiencing conflicts with
resident goose populations. The location, date
and
time of those meetings has not been determined, but will be announced in a
future notice in the Federal Register.

The Service encourages public comment on the scope of the EIS. Written
comments should be submitted by October 18, 1999, addressed to the Chief,
Office of Migratory Bird Management, U.S.
Fish and Wildlife Service, Department of the Interior, ms 634 ARLSQ, 1849 C
St., NW, Washington, D.C. 20240. For further information contact the Office
of Migratory Bird Management, (703) 358-1714.

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is the principal Federal agency
responsible for conserving, protecting, and enhancing fish, wildlife and
plants and their habitats for the continuing benefit of the American
people. The Service manages the 93- million-acre National Wildlife Refuge
System comprised of more than 500 national wildlife refuges, thousands of
small
wetlands,
and other special management areas. It also operates 66
national
fish hatcheries, 64 fish and wildlife management assistance offices and 78
ecological services field stations. The agency enforces Federal wildlife
laws, administers the Endangered Species Act, manages migratory bird
populations, restores nationally significant fisheries, conserves and
restores
wildlife
habitat such as wetlands, and helps foreign governments with their
conservation efforts. It also oversees the Federal Aid program that
distributes hundreds of millions of dollars in excise taxes on fishing and
hunting equipment to state wildlife agencies.
                            -F W S-


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