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Published September 07, 2010, 09:45 AM

Officials now helping landowners police geese

FARGO, N.D. — Deer are a problem for some livestock producers, but Canada geese are becoming a more regular depredation problem for crop farmers in some areas.

By: Mikkel Pates, Agweek

FARGO, N.D. — Deer are a problem for some livestock producers, but Canada geese are becoming a more regular depredation problem for crop farmers in some areas.

Randy Kreil, wildlife division chief for the North Dakota Game and Fish Department, says Canada geese are a federally protected species. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has given the states authority to take measures to reduce standing crop losses. Destroying geese can be used in combinations with other techniques.

This authority has been in place since 2002.

The first year, 18 permits were issued. Since then, the department has issued about 100 of the “lethal take” permits in a year.

The department issues about 100 free, special “lethal take” permits a year. These permit-holders can take a total of 30 geese during the course of the permit. Subsequent permits are available if 30 isn’t enough.

“Some use them to the full extent; others don’t,” Kreil says.

Farmers can apply to designate up to five people — hired workers, offspring, neighbors — as his “agents,” to be free to hunt the birds.

“Before we issue ‘lethal-take’ permits, we try to work with people to use scare techniques or buffer plantings and other things.”

In the past four years, taking 1,172 geese last year. The annual take from those permits is has averaged about 1,000 geese per year since 2004, which he says compares to a state domestic goose population of about 250,000. The department also allows some pre-emptive measures, with disruption of nesting.

The geese must either be destroyed or their meat must be donated to food pantries or other nonprofit organizations. Most of the permits are in the southeast part of the state where water conditions have been very high for the past decade and where crops interface with wetlands.

The permits have a time period in the summer through early August.

“Then they have to file a report so we can keep the federal folks informed” of exact numbers, Kreil says.

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