At Home in the City

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Published on: Feb. 2, 1998

Last revision: Oct. 28, 2010

like where they live. "Before we started shaking eggs, we tried relocation when the birds were molting and couldn't fly," says Manning. But as soon as their feathers grew back, the adult birds returned.

To those who have braved hissing geese to shake eggs, the idea of keeping the eggs from being fertile seems like a good idea, but this method carries a high price. Neutering requires a surgical procedure from a veterinarian at a cost of more than $100 per gander. That doesn't include the cost and time involved to capture and transport the birds.

A little landscaping often proves to be the easiest and cheapest solution. If you let the grass grow a little taller, add some shrubs and trees and put up a few short fences around ponds, most, if not all, geese will move to areas they consider safer, which might be a nearby golf course.

The problem at golf courses is more complex because a good golf course is a giant Canada goose paradise. "Golf courses unwittingly provide some of the best goose habitat," Graber says.

The short, well-cared-for succulent grass is high in nitrogen and protein and low in fiber-exactly as the geese like it. The lack of shrubs and trees allows geese to escape to the pond before a predator can get close, and sand traps provide grit to help the geese digest their food.

At first, members of Columbia Country Club in the southern part of Columbia were in favor of the geese, says Stewart Bigelow, the club manager. "But when they started tracking in goose droppings on their shoes, then the geese weren't so cute." Thanks to a combination of treating eggs, erecting electric fences around the ponds and harassing birds, tÒP¿ué­er has any ntËng birds, although a few migratory ones still drop in during the fall.

"We also hunt them with bows when it is legal," Bigelow says. "No one has taken one, but the harassment helps." Other managers agree that birds exposed to hunting are more likely to respond to other harassment techniques after a hunting season.

Some groups in Minnesota worked with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to get special permits to round up urban geese in areas where they were creating problems and donated the meat to food banks. The program proved successful up north, and Missouri food banks have expressed interest in receiving goose meat to distribute to the poor. As a result, the Missouri Department of Conservation is considering a similar plan.

Geese are among the top five animal species people like to watch, and having them in an urban area allows many more people to enjoy them, Graber says. "Our objective is not to eliminate them from urban areas, but to manage them so they can remain wild and to keep people who live near them safe and happy."

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