Lake Mary File Photo

Summer round-up targeted

By Jason Arndt

In the last 25 years, the resident Canada geese population has exploded in Wisconsin, the Department of Natural Resources reports.

The Village of Twin Lakes, according to some lakefront property owners is one of the areas experiencing the explosion, which led the Lake Protection and Rehabilitation District to approve a federal permit to wrangle geese and remove from the premises at its Monday Commissioners’ Meeting.

The contract with the United States Department of Agriculture-Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service calls for a federal permit not to exceed $4,500.

Resident geese are birds most associated with nuisance problems, since they breed and live in Wisconsin almost year-round, only leaving briefly during harsh winter weather.

“These are the ones that stay here, they don’t go south,” said USDA Wildlife Biologist Dave Tarrall, who delivered a presentation before Lake Protection and Rehabilitation District commissioners.

“They are easily adaptable, living next to humans, you obviously know that.”

In addition to nuisance concerns, Tarrall reports resident geese create sanitation problems, notably fecal matter.

According to the presentation, 70 resident geese equate to 70 pounds of feces per day, and could lead to soil erosion, reduced water quality and increase municipal maintenance costs.

Also, Tarrall states resident geese have attributed to traffic accidents and threat of bird strikes by aircraft.

“If anybody has ever been chased around by a goose, I know I have, there are traffic incidents…major highways that are closed down because they are crossing the road,” Tarrall said.

Management approaches
Aside from rounding up geese, there were other methods discussed, most notably scare tactics and repellents along with landscape changes.

Among the list of repellents and tactics are distress calls, scare devices, pyrotechnics, taste repellents, trained dogs, remote control aircraft and predator decoys.

However, Tarrall said non-lethal methods lose effectiveness as time progresses.

“Distress calls, that can work for awhile,” he said. “A lot of these non-lethal methods, you can’t use one of them only. A lot of times, they will lose their effectiveness.”

Further management methods include changes in landscape, noting resident geese are attracted to freshly mowed grass and shorelines with limited vegetation life.

To prevent the geese from returning, the USFWS recommends allowing grass to grow longer, modify shorelines and increase community education.

Education includes creating a clear ordinance barring residents from feeding geese.

“I know this is common practice, people used to do it all the time,” said Tarrall.

Another alternative is to cut nesting, which consists of applying an oil-based chemical on eggs and/or destruction of nests.

Geese round-up
Noting an opportunity in June and July, when geese are left flightless for 2-4 weeks after they molt their feathers, Tarrall said this is an ideal time to round up geese.

Through a humane process, trained Wildlife Services staff capture the geese, which are processed for donation to area food, pending the outcome of certified tests.

In the first two round-ups, 10 percent of adult geese taken in receive tests from a certified lab for mercury and lead levels at a cost of $50 per sample.

After receiving approval from the DNR Wildlife Team and Wisconsin Department of Health, the processed meat is then offered to pantry

Animal shelters receive juvenile geese, Tarrall said.

“Typically, we try not to landfill anything, they are typically used for animal food,” he said.

Property restrictions
Meanwhile, as they target June or July as the date of roundup, trained wildlife staff welcome area volunteers to guide them through lakes Mary and Elizabeth.

Tarrall, however, acknowledged they can not legally enter private property without permission from the owner.

As a result, he suggested the village inform property owners as early as possible to ensure a prompt roundup.

From 1999 through 2016, the USDA has reached similar contracts with 87 other Wisconsin communities, rounding up more than 8,000 geese.

Of the 8,000 geese, about 7,000 were donated to food pantries or offered to Native American populations with the rest going to animal facilities.

Other business
In other business, the Lake Protection and Rehabilitation District approved a work order not to exceed $4,340 with Wisconsin Lakes and Ponds to conduct a late season survey of Eurasian Water Milfoil.

Also Town and County Engineering received authorization to conduct a storm water sediment reduction study.


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