Duck, duck, goose: This isn’t just a fly-by

“My heart goes where the wild goose goes!” You would be showing your age if you remember that song by Frankie Lane sometime back, I believe, in the early 50s.

Of course, back then, wild geese were really just that, WILD! Not these so called “Resident” or “Nuisance Geese” that are now fouling up lawns, golf courses, small ponds, school playing fields, grassy parks, and even areas like the Hub in downtown Meriden, not to mention Hubbard Park.

No wild goose in its right mind would settle down in an area like the Hub with all of the pedestrian traffic as well as vehicle traffic in the area. It was so out of the ordinary to see a flock of Canada geese circling for a landing over Pratt and State Streets, I could not believe my eyes the first time I saw them.

Years ago, the only Canada geese one would see were those making their annual migratory trip south in the fall of the year and then again those making the northbound trip to their spring breeding grounds in the north country as the ice melted.

The wild Canada goose migration in the fall of the year would get even the busiest of folks in the outdoors to stop and watch the huge flocks of geese winging their way southward with the haunting refrain of their plaintiff honking falling down on them in the crisp autumn air. I have such fond memories of old-fashioned autumns, the air permeated with the heady aroma of burning leaves and the sounds of the honking geese winging their way to southern waters that I feel sorry for those who will never experience such memories. But even the best of memories are destined to become just that -- memories.

Something strange happened over the years. These wild geese took a liking to our Connecticut outdoors and many of them stopped migrating south. And the when springtime rolled around they decided that they were going to stay right here in Connecticut year round.

At first, folks thought it was really neat having these “wild” critters year round in our area. Little did they know the outcome that would transpire as these geese took up permanent residence in Connecticut. Of course, their residency meant baby geese called goslings that turned into an ever-increasing resident flock of nuisance geese.

At first, nuisance geese were live-trapped and shipped to more northern states in New England, but this did little to stop these newcomers from taking permanent residence here in Connecticut.

There were those who even began feeding these beautiful wild creatures, turning them into beautiful tame beggars. The Canada geese at Hubbard Park will snatch bread right out of the hands of those that feed them.

One has to wonder if those that encouraged these once wild critters to become beggars ever realized the copious amounts of goose poop that these geese leave in areas that they stay in. They tell us that each goose has the ability to leave about a quart of goose poop a day. Now imagine your kids playing on a ball field that had a couple of hundred Canada geese feeding on it for a day --UGH!

Or how about spreading a picnic blanket on a grassy area at Hubbard Park after a flock of gees have left their “calling card” blanketing the area. Worse yet is when they hang around in our reservoirs.

Some of you may have noticed some Canada geese with yellow, numbered collars on their necks. This enables the DEEP to monitor their movements.

Attempts by the DEEP Wildlife Division to get rid of the nuisance geese by shipping them north was expensive and it did little to alleviate the problem. Those that fed them only made a bad situation worse. Consequences from supplemental feeding wildlife including geese are many, including disease, human health, biological, plus the mess they leave wherever they decide to land.

Wildlife agencies in various New England States have turned to hunting nuisance geese and have altered their Canada goose seasons and daily bag limits as a measure to cope with the increasing numbers of Canada geese, but even with the nuisance goose season they seem to be losing ground.

The nuisance goose problem is not only here in the Northeast. In Tennessee, wildlife officials estimate the non-migratory (a.k.a. Nuisance Canada geese) population in their state at between 60,000 and 80,000 birds. Hunters only account for about 20,000 of these unwanted geese and the population continues to expand.

One of the problems with the nuisance geese season is finding a place were it is legal to harvest them. They are called nuisance geese because of the spots they pick to feed and defecate in suburban areas. If they were truly wild, there would be no such problem.

The nuisance goose season in Connecticut’s Northern Zone (north of I-95) will open September 3 (Tuesday after Labor Day) and continue to September 30, with a daily bag limit of 15 geese and a possession limit of 45 geese. The Southern Zone (south of I-95) nuisance goose season runs September 14-30, with a 15 bird daily and 45 birds possession limit.

During the early nuisance geese season, shooting hours will be one-half hour before sunrise to one-half hour after sunset. It is also noted that unplugged shotguns are legal to use during the September goose season ONLY.

It goes without saying that all waterfowl hunters should get a copy of the 2013-2014 Migratory Bird Hunting Guide from the Bureau of Natural Resources Wildlife Division (available at www.ct.gov/deep ), because of the varied hunting zones for Canada geese in Connecticut. There are three hunting zones that feature varying bag limits and dates.

Other waterfowl openings for hunting in Connecticut are ducks, mergansers and coots, an early season from October 9-19 in the north zone and late season November 11 to January 7 and, in the southern zone, October 9-12 early season and November 16 to January 30 late season.

Again, a check with your 2013 - 2014 Migratory Bird Hunting Guide is a must before doing any hunting!

A REMINDER

All waterfowl hunters age 16 and over are required to have an up-to-date firearms hunting license, and are required to purchase and carry a current Connecticut Duck Stamp (also known as the Migratory Bird Conservation and Hunting Stamp).

They may be purchased for $13 from participating town clerks, retail agents and select DEEP offices, or through the DEEP’s Online Sportsmen Licensing System. The CT 2013 Duck Stamp is valid to December 31, 2013.

To waterfowl hunt in 2014 you will need the CT 2014 Duck Stamp that is good for the rest of 2014. You will also need a $15 Federal Duck Stamp available at your post office.

In addition to that, waterfowl hunters and upland game hunters that hunt woodcock must possess a $4 HIP permit on them while hunting waterfowl or woodcock. They may be purchased at a city clerk’s office or online through the DEEP.

A BEAR IN OUR BACK YARD? NO WAY!

I guess if you hang around long enough anything is possible.

Edna and I reside on Dogwood Lane here in Meriden and just on the other side of our fenced in yard is a strip of woods and then the highway that connects to the Berlin Turnpike. On the other side of the connector are the Middle School and the Magnet School. Since we moved here that tiny strip of woods has provided us with a dozen deer sighting,s including a piebald (partially white) buck, a couple of wild turkeys, fox, woodchucks, rabbits, skunks, a possum and, just last week, a black bear.

Although I did not see the bear myself, our neighbor Jeorji Learned who lives three houses away had one come right up to her deck while she was on it. It then headed towards our house, and while I scrambled for a camera I missed it, but it looked like it took time out to inspect our other neighbor’s trash bin. It also walked around the home of a young couple down the street.

Two other sightings were reported as the bear moved eastward in Meriden. Black bears in the city: What’s next, moose?

From all appearances, it looks like the wildlife is moving into the city to get away from the city folks who are building homes in the country so they can see more wildlife.

See ya and God Bless America and watch over our troops wherever they may be.



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