Resident geese


I’m no fan of resident geese.  Canada geese are not supposed to stick around all summer. They are supposed to fly north in the spring. I do admit they’re pretty, and I like the honking call, but Northern Canada is where geese need to be in summer.

Canada geese are likely the most recognized waterfowl species in North Carolina. To the average person they all look pretty much the same, but there are several different subspecies. There’s the rub.

Most subspecies are migratory, but the large resident type is not. Populations of this ecotype have been exploding over the last 20 to 30 years. Conversely, numbers of migratory types are less than ten percent of what they were 60 years ago.

In the 1980’s the North Carolina Wildlife Resources Commission, trying to bolster declining goose numbers, raised and released this giant subspecies. Neighboring states did as well. Birds were easy to rear and established well but had weak migratory tendencies.

Geese must learn to migrate from their parents. They also breed in the same locale as where they were reared. Consequently, when parents stay in an area, the goslings do as well.

Resident types also are more successful parents than their migrating cousins. The result is a huge increase in residents and a decline in migrating populations. It’s not that geese forgot how to migrate. They are different types.

Another reason for the imbalance is loss of natural habitat. Changing farming practices also entice many migrating geese to stop their migration and breed further north than they once did.

Some people say a goose is a goose, but these resident geese are bolder than the migrating kind. They are comfortable around people and feed wherever they please. They take their toll on crops and landscaping. They also leave their droppings everywhere. It is unsightly and a health hazard.

What can we do about it? First, don’t feed them. Also if you are a landowner, consider allowing hunting on your property during the September resident goose season. Most hunters are responsible and will respect your property. If they don’t you have their identification, since written permission is necessary to hunt on another’s land in North Carolina.

Don’t worry; the migrant birds won’t be here for another two months. They also are less likely to frequent densely populated areas. These resident birds make great table fare if dressed shortly after being harvested. Cook them as you would domestic duck or goose.

The season is in, so now is the time to scare these squatters out of the residential areas and into adjacent legal hunting places where populations can be thinned. If their numbers increase much more, health of the entire goose population will be jeopardized.

If harvesting is repulsive to you, you can still discourage geese on your property by limiting their access to water. Geese tend to walk and not fly into the water, so erect a wire barrier to make it inconvenient. If you harass them they might go somewhere else.

Ted Manzer teaches agriculture at Northeastern High School.

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About tedmanzer

I grew up in Old Town Maine and got a B.S. at the University of Maine in Plant Sciences/ minor in Botany. From there I moved to West Virginia and earned a M.S. in Agronomy at WVU. I also met my wife there. She grew up in rural WV as the daughter of tenant farmers who raised cattle and hogs. Their lifestyle at times was one of subsistence and I learned a lot from them. I've always been a foraging buff, but combining my formal botanical knowledge with their practical 'Foxfire-type' background opened up my eyes a little more. I now teach agriculture to high school students at Northeastern High School in Elizabeth City, NC. My wife teaches with me and we make a great team. I also write a weekly nature/foraging column for the local paper (dailyadvance.com) and frequently publish articles in several other newspapers in northeastern North Carolina. I also have written several Christian nature/adventure novels that I plan to publish eventually. One is a five book family saga I call the 'Forgotten Virtues' series. In the first book, Never Alone, a young boy comes of age after his father dies in a plane crash, and he has to make it alone. Never Alone is now available in paperback, Kindle and Nook. The second book, Strange Courage, takes Carl from his High School graduation to his recovery from a nasty divorce. The third book, Second Chances, takes Carl from his ex-wife's death and the custody of his son to his heroic death at age 59. The fourth book, Promises Kept, depicts how his grandchildren react and adjust to his death. In the final book, Grandfather's Way, his youngest and most timid granddaughter emerges from the shadow of her overachieving family and accomplishes more in four months than most do in a lifetime. I use many foraging references with a lot of the plants I profile in these articles in those books.
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23 Responses to Resident geese

  1. I never knew that Canada geese had subspecies. I never knew that geese migrate with their parents.

  2. i definitely did not know that there were different kinds of geese! but i definitely think its nasty when they use the bathroom everywhere && a health hazard!

  3. Around here we really do have too many geese and it will eventually get out of control

  4. sbright16 says:

    These geese really piss me off becuase they are so gross and use the bathroom everywhere and try to chace you.

  5. These geese are so annoying, just the way they sound and how gross they are, using the bathroom everywhere, and they are ver mean.

  6. I’m not really a big fan of these geese for the fact that they use the bathroom everywhere.

  7. I agree that the geese here are really getting out of control. Something needs to be done before they take over everything!

  8. I like hunting them haha, but i didnt know they migrated with their parents.

  9. i think its cool how they migrated with their parents and i dont really like them cause they can chase you

  10. Cannot stand canadians! I’m so Glad when every September comes so we can hunt them!

  11. seankathryn says:

    i hate geese…theyre seriously discusting.

  12. intresting how there instincts dont tell them to migrate like other bird do, but some things are just learn.. though the health hazzard is true they seem to like kids playgrounds and parks

  13. I agree, the geese around here really are annoying and out of control.

  14. I dont really mind these geese that everyone seems to hate, but their population is too high and needs to migrate to another location or start hunting them.

  15. amandawensel says:

    These types of geese are a pain and annoying, at waterfront they would always be in that one park, they are nasty birds leaving a mess, you can’t take but a few steps before running into their droppings.

  16. geese get on my nerves. because they are lot and use the bathroom every where.

  17. donnashawna says:

    I Really dont llike these geese because they are a big pain and very annoying and if you just walk out the water front they will be all over your feet in an your way and dont feed becasue they will go crazy and they will chase you. And less not talk about when they use the bathroom they will go anywhere when i mean anywhere lol

  18. i love shooting these things, you know it really doesnt make alot of sense to me why in the september season you can kill 15 a day, but in goose season you can only kill one with a permit.. i think its useless.

  19. zachvanett says:

    i hate these gesse they always try to bite me

  20. zachvanett says:

    plus also when u feed they cahse after u and they poop every werer they are disgusting

  21. susiehedley says:

    I’m not too fond of these birds and would not enjoy being around them very much. They seem like a nuisance.

  22. I find it interesting that the goslings tend to stay in the same place as their parents. I also find it hard to believe that geese numbers used to be down in the 80’s since there is so many around now.

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