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MailTribune.com
  • Removing Canada geese nests beats the alternative

    In some places, unwelcome birds are controlled with roundups and poison gas
  • Consider the alternative.
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  • Consider the alternative.
    That's our advice to animal-rights activists who object to removing eggs and destroying nests to control the population of resident Canada geese on golf courses, in parks and other public places where shooting the birds is prohibited.
    The Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife plans to issue a temporary rule soon allowing egg removal and nest destruction during the birds' nesting season from April through June. A permanent rule would follow later.
    Such measures are illegal if the target is a migratory bird. But these geese don't migrate. They have taken up permanent residence on golf courses and in parks, a phenomenon repeated across the country.
    While impressive to look at, Canada geese can do damage with their droppings when their numbers get too large, and can tear up grass and other plants with their feeding. They also can be agressive when humans approach, expecially when they are nesting.
    The resident birds nest from March through July. Their migratory cousins are present in this area in the winter months, returning to Canada to nest in the spring and summer.
    So far, local golf course managers haven't reported severe problems with geese, although some have used dogs to scare away the birds before they nest — considered a nonlethal control method and one preferred by animal protection groups.
    A Humane Society spokeswoman says landowners should change their landscaping to discourage geese. That might be an option for private property, but it's hardly possible for a golf course or, for that matter, for many parks.
    Unfortunately, mowed lawns with ponds nearby are the perfect habitat for geese.
    Certainly nonlethal methods would be preferable if they do the job. If dogs work, by all means use dogs.
    But preventing new generations of geese from hatching seems a reasonable step if other methods fail. The alternative is much less palatable.
    In other places, geese populations have grown so large that municipalities and others have resorted to rounding up the birds and killing them with gas.
    We wouldn't want to see that happen, and we're confident the Humane Sociey wouldn't either.
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