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Views and opinions: Living with Canada geese - or not - is the dilemma

 

Less than 40 years ago, the giant Canada goose was rare in Indiana. As a result of restoration efforts and a large increase in small urban and suburban water bodies, Canada geese are now quite common. Many people enjoy seeing them fly in a V-formation or hearing their distinctive honk, but problems may occur when too many gather in an area.

Unfortunately, the green grass of lawns and any nearby ponds make an ideal nesting site for geese. Typically developers and landowners unknowingly cause the problem by creating ideal goose habitat. Geese feed extensively on fresh, short, green grass. With a permanent body of water nearby – such as a water retention pond, subdivision lake, golf course water hazard or water gardens – this creates perfect conditions for geese to set up residence, multiply and concentrate.

Geese, including their young, also have a strong tendency to return to the same area year after year. Once geese start nesting in a particular place, the stage is already set for more geese in the future.

Feeding geese makes the problem worse. It concentrates larger numbers of geese in areas which under normal conditions would only support a few. Artificial feeding can also disrupt normal migration patterns and hold geese in areas longer than normal. With an abundant source of artificial food available, geese can devote more time to locating nesting sites and mating.

Congregating geese can cause damage to landscape. Large amounts of excrement can render swimming areas, parks, golf courses, lawns, docks and patios unfit for human use. Since they are active grazers, they are particularly attracted to lawns and ponds located near apartment complexes, houses, office areas and golf courses. Geese can rapidly denude lawns, turning them into barren, dirt areas.

Geese are particularly aggressive during breeding and nesting season. Their defensive behavior can cause problems around businesses when they attack and nip at workers and customers.

Most problems in metropolitan areas occur from March-June during the nesting season. Breeding pairs begin nesting in late February and March. Egg-laying begins soon after nest construction is complete. Female giant Canada geese lay one egg every day-and-a-half, and the average clutch size is five. Incubation of eggs begins after the last egg is laid and lasts 28 days.

Geese can cause a great deal of localized damage if many young are hatched in one area. After hatching, goslings are incapable of flight for about 70 days, so the young birds and their parents will graze near the hatching area at this time. Adults molt their flight feathers near the end of June, rendering them flightless for 15-20 days. Molting leaves feathers and down scattered around the area.

The only defense property owners and managers have is to destroy the eggs and nests of the geese. A permit is needed to destroy eggs and nests and an application is available online at https://epermits.fws.gov/ercgr/gesi.aspx

If you are a landowner, homeowner’s association, public land manager or local government in the lower 48 states or the District of Columbia, you may register at the site for federal authorization to destroy resident Canada goose nests and eggs on property under your jurisdiction.

Applicants are required to register each year prior to taking nests and eggs. They need to register between Jan. 1-June 30 of the year in which the nests and eggs will be destroyed. Applicants should also enter the individual names of employees or agents who may conduct the work on their behalf. All applicants must be at least 18 years of age to register.

Each registrant must return to this website by Oct. 31 to report the number of nests with eggs which were destroyed, for each month and location county.

You must report even if you conducted no activity. You will not be able to register for future seasons if you have an outstanding report after Dec. 31 of the present year.

March and spring Coho fishing

The most consistent action for catching spring Coho from the Lake Michigan shoreline centers around March. The time is right for good fishing after the ice goes out and until the near-shore water temps reach 48-50 degrees.

Waters warmer than 48-50 degrees make the Coho move offshore; however, Coho can be caught from shore from January to mid-April if conditions are right. A few places you can fish include:

•East Chicago Marina break wall

•BP Whiting Discharge

•Hammond Marina break wall

•Portage Lakefront Park

•Port of Indiana Shore Fishing Site

•Michigan City (pier at Washington Park, or DNR/Coast Guard Access in the inner harbor)

Fishing access can be found using the “Where to Fish Finder” at www.in.gov/dnr/fishwild/3591.htm

Most Coho taken by shore anglers are caught on live bait. Up to three rods are permitted, which can increase the odds of catching a fish. Practically any spinning rod spooled with 6- to 10-pound test monofilament line will work for fishing for live bait.

Usually, the best tactic is a simple bobber rig. Suspend a size-2 to size-6 hook about 4-6 feet under a bobber. Bait with small spawn sacs, salmon skein, tube jigs tipped with wax worms, small pieces of shrimp, night crawlers or minnows.

Helpful tip: Experiment with a mix of bobbers and bottom rigs and switch presentations until you find the most productive. Fishing on bottom is more likely to result in catching other fish such as brown trout or whitefish.

 

The views and opinions expressed in this column are those of the author and not necessarily those of Farm World. Readers with questions or comments may contact Jack Spaulding by email at jackspaulding@hughes.net or by writing to him in care of this publication.

4/10/2018