From almost gone to growing fast, the plague of Canada geese

  • Article by: DOUG SMITH , Star Tribune
  • Updated: August 2, 2013 - 9:14 AM

Once nearly extinct, the growing Canada goose population can be a nuisance for metro residents and farmers, whose crops are at risk.

hide

Mostad, a lifelong hunter, says shooting some geese seems to be an effective way to protect his crops. “I was able to shoot one with my .22 pistol at 110 yards,’’ he said. “I left it lay, and that did it. The whole works moved across the road into some state land and haven’t been back since.’’

 

– Bob Mostad remembers when the first pair of Canada geese showed up on his farm in the late 1980s — when the goose population had rebounded after nearly going extinct in Minnesota.

“I was so proud,’’ Mostad, 87, recalled last week, looking out over his picturesque landscape of lush crops and wetlands. He has been farming near Osakis in west-central Minnesota for 60 years, and even mowed a strip of pasture near a pond he created to entice the geese to nest there. “I love wildlife, and I longed for the day when we could get them back.’’

That first pair produced five goslings.

“But pretty soon there were two pairs of geese, then a few more, and within five or six years I had a lot of geese,’’ Mostad said. “And they weren’t staying on the pasture, they were going out eating my corn and bean fields. They became a nuisance.’’

Mostad’s story is a microcosm of what has happened in Minnesota since a remnant of the giant Canada goose population was “discovered’’ in Rochester 50 years ago. Encouraged by landscape changes and the trapping and transplanting of geese to new areas, goose numbers exploded statewide, fouling beaches, golf courses and parks with excrement — and destroying acres of crops.

Since 1999, the Department of Natural Resources has issued permits to farmers to shoot problem geese, and helped pay for electric fences to deter geese from crops. The number of permits issued has grown from seven that first year to 234 last year, when landowners shot 1,288 geese. Another 2,000 geese are rounded up in the Twin Cities each summer, euthanized and distributed to food shelves or fed to captive wolves at the Wildlife Science Center near Forest Lake.

Hunters, too, have been urged to kill more geese. Bag limits and seasons have been expanded. Still, last year’s estimated goose population hit 433,000 — a record. So this year, for the first time, Minnesota will hold a special 11-day summer goose hunt Aug. 10-25, with an unprecedented 10-bird daily bag limit and no possession limit.

“This is one more option for us to try and increase our harvest of Canada geese,’’ said Steve Cordts, DNR waterfowl specialist. Last year, Minnesota hunters bagged nearly 236,000 honkers — more than any other waterfowl.

Nobody thinks adding the August hunt to the DNR’s menu of harvest strategies will dramatically reduce the goose population or end the clash between geese and humans.

“There’s no concern of taking too many geese anywhere, really,’’ Cordts said. “We’d have to have a massive change in harvest [to significantly reduce the population].”

Coyote decoys

Mostad, a lifelong hunter, doesn’t want to see geese eradicated from his land. In fact, though he gets permits from the DNR to shoot geese, he rarely kills more than one or two.

“They are a wonderful bird,’’ he said. “They mate for life. I hate to shoot them.’’

Like dozens of other farmers, Mostad has tried innovative methods to keep them away from crops — with minimal success.

“I’ve tried a lot of things. I put out swan decoys; they don’t like swans, and that discouraged them, but they didn’t take long to learn they were fake, and then they ignored them,’’ said Mostad. This spring about 37 adult geese showed up on his 20-acre wetland, so he bought two coyote decoys.

“That worked for a week or 10 days, and then they realized they were fake, too,’’ he said. “It’s amazing, they are so smart.’’

Shooting some seems to work best, Mostad said.

  • related content

  • Bob Mostad: “They were eating my corn and bean fields.”

  • Bob Mostad, who has been farming near Osakis in west-central Minnesota for 60 years, has tried using coyote and swan decoys to keep geese away from his crops, with little success.

  • get related content delivered to your inbox

  • manage my email subscriptions

Click here to send us your hunting or fishing photos – and to see what others are showing off from around the region.

ADVERTISEMENT

New Orleans 28 FINAL
Carolina 10
Tampa Bay 11/2/14 12:00 PM
Cleveland
Arizona 11/2/14 12:00 PM
Dallas
Philadelphia 11/2/14 12:00 PM
Houston
NY Jets 11/2/14 12:00 PM
Kansas City
Jacksonville 11/2/14 12:00 PM
Cincinnati
San Diego 11/2/14 12:00 PM
Miami
Washington 11/2/14 12:00 PM
Minnesota
St. Louis 11/2/14 3:05 PM
San Francisco
Denver 11/2/14 3:25 PM
New England
Oakland 11/2/14 3:25 PM
Seattle
Baltimore 11/2/14 7:30 PM
Pittsburgh
Indianapolis 11/3/14 7:30 PM
NY Giants
Washington 105 FINAL
Orlando 98
Detroit 91 FINAL
Minnesota 97
New York 95 FINAL
Cleveland 90
Utah 102 FINAL
Dallas 120
Oklahoma City 90 FINAL
LA Clippers 93
Boston 3 FINAL(OT)
Buffalo 2
Winnipeg 1 FINAL(SO)
New Jersey 2
Los Angeles 0 FINAL
Pittsburgh 3
Chicago 5 FINAL(SO)
Ottawa 4
Philadelphia 3 FINAL
Tampa Bay 4
Arizona 1 FINAL
Florida 2
San Jose 3 FINAL(SO)
Minnesota 4
Anaheim 0 FINAL
St. Louis 2
NY Islanders 0 FINAL
Colorado 5
Montreal 2 FINAL(OT)
Vancouver 3
(2) Florida State 42 FINAL
Louisville 31
Troy 10 FINAL
Ga Southern 42
Cincinnati 7:00 PM
Tulane
Tulsa 7:02 PM
Memphis
Air Force 11/1/14 10:30 AM
Army
ULM 11/1/14 11:00 AM
Texas A&M
(19) Oklahoma 11/1/14 11:00 AM
Iowa State
Northwestern 11/1/14 11:00 AM
Iowa
(24) Duke 11/1/14 11:00 AM
Pittsburgh
Maryland 11/1/14 11:00 AM
Penn State
Wisconsin 11/1/14 11:00 AM
Rutgers
Rice 11/1/14 11:00 AM
FIU
(21) East Carolina 11/1/14 11:00 AM
Temple
UCF 11/1/14 11:00 AM
Connecticut
Boston College 11/1/14 11:30 AM
Virginia Tech
North Carolina 11/1/14 11:30 AM
Miami-Florida
Washington 11/1/14 12:00 PM
Colorado
Central Mich 11/1/14 12:00 PM
Eastern Mich
Western Mich 11/1/14 1:30 PM
Miami-Ohio
Western Ky 11/1/14 2:00 PM
Louisiana Tech
NC State 11/1/14 2:00 PM
Syracuse
Virginia 11/1/14 2:30 PM
Georgia Tech
Purdue 11/1/14 2:30 PM
(17) Nebraska
BYU 11/1/14 2:30 PM
Middle Tennessee
(10) TCU 11/1/14 2:30 PM
(20) West Virginia
Indiana 11/1/14 2:30 PM
Michigan
Florida 11/1/14 2:30 PM
(9) Georgia
Georgia State 11/1/14 2:30 PM
Appalachian St
Kentucky 11/1/14 3:00 PM
Missouri
Kansas 11/1/14 3:00 PM
(12) Baylor
Texas State 11/1/14 3:00 PM
New Mexico St
Houston 11/1/14 3:00 PM
So Florida
USC 11/1/14 3:30 PM
Washington St
Arkansas State 11/1/14 4:00 PM
Idaho
South Alabama 11/1/14 4:00 PM
Louisiana
New Mexico 11/1/14 4:30 PM
UNLV
UAB 11/1/14 6:00 PM
Fla Atlantic
(4) Auburn 11/1/14 6:00 PM
(7) Ole Miss
Old Dominion 11/1/14 6:00 PM
Vanderbilt
Colorado State 11/1/14 6:00 PM
San Jose St
Arkansas 11/1/14 6:15 PM
(1) Miss State
Stanford 11/1/14 6:30 PM
(5) Oregon
Tennessee 11/1/14 6:30 PM
So Carolina
Texas 11/1/14 6:30 PM
Texas Tech
Southern Miss 11/1/14 7:00 PM
Texas-El Paso
(6) Notre Dame 11/1/14 7:00 PM
Navy
Oklahoma State 11/1/14 7:00 PM
(11) Kansas State
Illinois 11/1/14 7:00 PM
(13) Ohio State
(14) Arizona 11/1/14 9:30 PM
(25) UCLA
California 11/1/14 9:30 PM
Oregon State
San Diego St 11/1/14 9:30 PM
Nevada
Wyoming 11/1/14 9:45 PM
Fresno State
(18) Utah 11/1/14 10:00 PM
(15) Arizona State
Utah State 11/1/14 10:00 PM
Hawaii
Bowling Green 11/4/14 7:00 PM
Akron
Toledo 11/4/14 7:00 PM
Kent State
Buffalo 11/5/14 7:00 PM
Ohio U
Northern Ill 11/5/14 7:00 PM
Ball State
(22) Clemson 11/6/14 6:30 PM
Wake Forest
Sporting Kansas City 1 FINAL
Red Bull New York 2
Hamilton 6:30 PM
Ottawa
Winnipeg 11/1/14 3:00 PM
Calgary
Brt Columbia 11/1/14 6:00 PM
Edmonton
Toronto 11/2/14 11:00 AM
Montreal
Ottawa 11/7/14 6:00 PM
Toronto
Calgary 11/7/14 9:00 PM
Brt Columbia
Montreal 11/8/14 3:00 PM
Hamilton
Edmonton 11/8/14 6:00 PM
Saskatchewan
Connect with twitterConnect with facebookConnect with Google+Connect with PinterestConnect with PinterestConnect with RssfeedConnect with email newsletters

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

question of the day

Poll: Should the lake where the albino muskie was caught remain a mystery?

Weekly Question

ADVERTISEMENT

 
Close