Earth Day is coming soon – Duck, Duck, Goose

In Announcements, by , on March 31st, 2014

“You’re it” to come and help with the planning of the event Wednesday, April 2, in CASTL at 12:20 p.m. The recent snowfall may have us wondering if spring will ever arrive. But more signs of spring are upon us. For the past few days large flocks of migratory Canada, or Canadian geese, Branta Canadensis, could be seen overhead, and they don’t have to go through customs. They arrive back north looking for greener pastures, and sometimes they find them – on golf courses, manicured athletic fields, and large open areas.

There appear to be two mindsets in the geese: migratory geese who travel from Canada and the northern U.S. to the southern U.S. every year and they come through this area. There are also the resident geese that have decided not to migrate. These populations have grown quite large in some areas, typically becoming pests as far as humans are concerned because of their habit of “fertilizing” the ground with up to a pound of droppings a day.

Why are there resident geese now? There are all sorts of probable causes, including climate change, increase in suitable habitat, lack of predators, or even the release of domestically-raised geese that never “learned” to migrate. One thing is certain – some individuals really dislike them, but we are the major reason for their expansion. The geese love short grass and we have produced plenty of this habitat. So what to do about it? As they are considered migratory birds they are a protected species except during hunting season. The resident geese are most likely not going to be found in a place where hunting is allowed thus compounding the problem. The resident geese are, to put it mildly, fat and happy, thus able to reproduce in abundance.

How can we control them if we wanted to? First off, leave some tall grass. They fear predation. Second, stop feeding them. Third, make your location undesirable. This could be accomplished by scaring them away. Strands of mylar blowing in the wind makes a sound they don’t like. Nest disturbance is effective – but be very careful – you may need to be permitted to perform this act. Dogs can be used to chase them away.

But there is something from which you should not be chased away from and that is Earth Day at the university on April 22. The sustainability committee will meet this Wednesday at 12:20 p.m., in 107 St. Vincent’s Hall, to discuss plans for this event. All are welcome for their input and help to make this event a success.