Resident geese are long-lived, upwards of 20 years or more. Most resident geese begin breeding when they are 2-3 years old and they nest every year for the rest of their lives. Pairs mate for life, but if one member dies, the remaining goose will mate again. Geese lay an average of 5-6 eggs per nest, about half of which will hatch and become free-flying birds in the fall. A single female goose may produce more than 50 young over her lifetime.
The annual life cycle for resident geese begins in late winter when adult pairs return to nesting areas in late February or March, as soon as waters open up. Egg-laying (1-2 weeks) and incubation (about 4 weeks) generally extend through April, with the peak of hatching in late April or early May. Geese will aggressively defend their nests and may attack if approached. Non-breeding geese often remain nearby in feeding flocks during the nesting season. After hatching, goose families may move considerable distances from nesting areas to brood-rearing areas, appearing suddenly at ponds bordered by lawns.
Today, New York's resident Canada goose population numbers are close to 200,000 birds, with nesting documented all across the state. Combined with populations nesting in other eastern states, there are more than one million year-round resident geese in the Atlantic Flyway. Every fall, these are joined by similar numbers of migratory geese from Northern Canada. Resident populations have grown steadily because of milder, more favorable conditions for nesting and survival. Migratory populations, on the other hand, have experienced some dramatic ups and downs caused by harsh weather on breeding grounds and greater exposure to harvest by hunters.
In urban and suburban areas throughout New York State, expanses of short grass, abundant lakes and ponds, lack of natural predators, limited hunting, and supplemental feeding have created an explosion in resident goose numbers. While most people find a few geese acceptable, problems develop as local flocks grow.
DEC continues to advocate for a reduction in the number of Canada geese in New York State to 85,000 birds (from what has since grown to 364,000 birds in spring 2019). We believe that a much smaller resident goose population would best serve diverse public interests.
Unfortunately, we are farther from the goal now than we were in 1999, so we continue to seek practical and effective ways to reduce the population. Foremost among these is goose hunting, which results in estimated harvests of some 50,000-100,000 resident geese annually across New York State. DEC will continue to expand goose hunting opportunities wherever possible to help control or reduce resident goose populations. However, this is not an option in many urban and suburban areas, so capture and removal programs have become necessary.
There is no "silver bullet" for the long-term removal of nuisance geese. Each situation is different and requires different strategies. There are several important aspects to consider in planning nuisance goose management: When does the problem occur? What time(s) of the year does the problem occur?
For needs outside of the regulated hunting season and any other state-specific goose control programs, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service issues goose depredation permits to qualifying individuals and municipalities. These permits allow for the removal of geese, typically 1-2 per day, but must be done in conjunction with active non-lethal methods. Please see Federal Migratory Bird Depredation Permit for information and the permit form.
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The Canada goose (Branta canadensis), sometimes called Canadian goose, is a large wild goose with a black head and neck, white cheeks, white under its chin, and a brown body. It is native to the arctic and temperate regions of North America, and it is occasionally found during migration across the Atlantic in northern Europe. It has been introduced to the United Kingdom, Ireland, Finland, Sweden, Denmark, New Zealand, Japan, Chile, Argentina, and the Falkland Islands. Like most geese, the Canada goose is primarily herbivorous and normally migratory; often found on or close to fresh water, the Canada goose is also common in brackish marshes, estuaries, and lagoons.
The Canada goose was one of the many species described by Carl Linnaeus in his 18th-century work Systema Naturae. It belongs to the Branta genus of geese, which contains species with largely black plumage, distinguishing them from the gray species of the genus Anser.
Branta was a Latinized form of Old Norse Brandgás, "burnt (black) goose" and the specific epithet canadensis is a New Latin word meaning "from Canada". According to the Oxford English Dictionary, the first citation for the 'Canada goose' dates back to 1772. The Canada goose is also colloquially referred to as the "Canadian goose". This name may annoy some birders.
The cackling goose was originally considered to be the same species or several subspecies of the Canada goose, but in July 2004, the American Ornithologists' Union's Committee on Classification and Nomenclature split them into two species, making the cackling goose into a full species with the scientific name Branta hutchinsii. The British Ornithologists' Union followed suit in June 2005.
The distinctions between the two geese have led to confusion and debate among ornithologists. This has been aggravated by the overlap between the small types of Canada goose and larger types of cackling goose. The old "lesser Canada geese" were believed to be a partly hybrid population, with the birds named B. c. taverneri considered a mixture of B. c. minima, B. c. occidentalis, and B. c. parvipes. The holotype specimen of taverneri is a straightforward large pale cackling goose however, and hence the taxon is still valid today and was renamed "Taverner's cackling goose".
In addition, the barnacle goose (B. leucopsis) was determined to be a derivative of the cackling goose lineage, whereas the Hawaiian goose (B. sandvicensis) originated from ancestral Canada geese. Thus, the species' distinctness is well evidenced. Ornithologist Harold C. Hanson, who had rediscovered wild populations of the Giant Canada Goose, proposed splitting Canada and cackling goose into six species and 200 subspecies. The radical nature of this proposal has been controversial; Richard Banks of the AOU urges caution before any of Hanson's proposals are accepted. International Code of Zoological Nomenclature has suppressed Hanson's proposals, based on the criticisms of Banks and other ornithologists.
The black head and neck with a white "chinstrap" distinguish the Canada goose from all other goose species, with the exception of the cackling goose and barnacle goose (the latter, however, has a black breast and gray rather than brownish body plumage). Some Canadian geese come with a pepper-spotted or brown neck with brown plumage, and these are assumed to be a leucistic variety.
By the early 20th century, overhunting and loss of habitat in the late 19th and early 20th centuries had resulted in a serious decline in the numbers of this bird in its native range. The giant Canada goose subspecies was believed to be extinct in the 1950s until, in 1962, a small flock was discovered wintering in Rochester, Minnesota, by Harold Hanson of the Illinois Natural History Survey. In 1964, the Northern Prairie Wildlife Research Center was built near Jamestown, North Dakota. Its first director, Harvey K. Nelson, talked Forrest Lee into leaving Minnesota to head the center's Canada goose production and restoration program. Forrest soon had 64 pens with 64 breeding pairs of screened, high-quality birds. The project involved private, state, and federal resources and relied on the expertise and cooperation of many individuals. By the end of 1981, more than 6,000 giant Canada geese had been released at 83 sites in 26 counties in North Dakota. With improved game laws and habitat recreation and preservation programs, their populations have recovered in most of their range, although some local populations, especially of the subspecies B. c. occidentalis, may still be declining.
In recent years, Canada goose populations in some areas have grown substantially, so much so that many consider them pests for their droppings, bacteria in their droppings, noise, and confrontational behavior. This problem is partially due to the removal of natural predators and an abundance of safe, human-made bodies of water near food sources, such as those found on golf courses, in public parks and beaches, on sports fields, and in planned communities. Due in part to the interbreeding of various migratory subspecies with the introduced non-migratory giant subspecies, Canada geese are frequently a year-around feature of such urban environments.
Like most geese, the Canada goose is naturally migratory with the wintering range being most of the United States. The calls overhead from large groups of Canada geese flying in a V-shaped formation signal the transitions into spring and autumn. In some areas, migration routes have changed due to changes in habitat and food sources. In mild climates from southwestern British Columbia to California to the Great Lakes, some of the population has become nonmigratory due to adequate winter food supply and a lack of former predators. 781b155fdc