SEARCH BLOG: ENVIRONMENT
As a young boy in Wisconsin, I seldom saw a Canadian goose [Branta canadensis]. As I got older and traveled a bit, I noticed more of these birds, notably in the spring and fall. Then it seemed, as if by magic, that they were everywhere... literally.
Our office building had a small reflecting pond, walks, and benches so that the employees could enjoy their lunch breaks. The geese took it over. No one wanted to walk through the bird "droppings" which were more like slime-covered rotting cigars... much less sit next to it.
Golf courses where I played became mine fields of these droppings. I dreaded picking up my golf ball for fear of what might be clinging to it.
Last night, traffic on the 4-lane highway was stopped going south as a flock of geese decided that the 2 southbound lanes were a good place for a family reunion. The drivers of the cars that were first in line were patient... too patient. Traffic backed up. Horns sounded. Finally the lead car in the right lane move forward slowly. The geese slowly moved to the left lane. The driver of the lead car in that lane sat patiently... obviously entranced by birds he had never seen before... at least in the middle of a highway. Finally that car moved forward slowly.
The birds seemed a little miffed at first. The walked randomly back and forth. Suddenly, the geese gave up on the game of "chicken" and flew off toward a nearby lake.
Are these birds really endangered and require protection? This 1996 document from American University argues that the geese of the 1990s are much different than the geese of decades earlier.
The controversy over Canada geese concerns whether or not theyI see a problem with having to sprinkle grape Kool-Aid all over the U.S. east of the Mississippi River.
are, in fact, migratory and hence privy to federal protection.
Canada geese--as their name implies--until recent years regularly
migrated to northern Canada for the summer. But over the last 20-
25 years, many geese have chosen to remain south of the border, and
the populations of these non-migratory geese have grown into the
millions, with geese situated in eastern states from Maine down to
Virginia. Aerial observations of some flocks have led to the
conclusion the number of geese has doubled since 1975 and will
continue to grow if present trends continue.
Why have the geese lost their biological impulse to migrate?
Besides protection from game-hunters, the geese have been
encouraged by the spread of suburban developments, corporate parks
and recreational areas. Canada geese prefer the short-cut,
manicured grass found on golf courses and on the properties of
suburban corporate headquarters over the wild tundra of Canada.
The shorter grasses, besides providing a plentiful source of food,
afford the geese security--they can better monitor predators with
the clearer views. Furthermore, the pools and ponds that normally
accompany these developments are perfect sources of still drinking
water. In a short time, then, the geese have learned that the
environment created by humans was much closer to goose paradise
than they would experience in Canada, and chose to stay.
... Thus new methods have
been experimented with to simply chase the geese away from private
and commercial areas. For instance, some people have invested in
grape Kool-Aid powder to sprinkle on lawns; the geese have a
digestive aversion methyl anthranilate, a natural compound found in
grapes that causing a burning sensation in their
stomachs. Border collies have also been employed to shepherd
Canada geese on public spaces onto trailers for transport to