Whatever happened to the “wild” Canada goose?
There was a time back in the 1940s and 50s that we would stop and look on in awe whenever a V of Canada geese heading south for the fall would pass overhead.
The haunting refrain of their honking thrilled us and made us wonder what faraway southern waters they would stay on for the winter before returning to their northern breeding grounds in the spring of the year.
And then things gradually changed as the years went by. The climate in our state got a bit warmer and there was more open water in the winter months and some of the geese began to winter over in Connecticut.
After a while, they became known as “resident” — or, better yet, “nuisance” geese.
From where I sit, “nuisance” is the appropriate name. Over the years, they have polluted waterways as well as athletic fields, golf courses and school yards.
Does it surprise you to know that a Canada goose can poop out almost a quart of feces (a.k.a. “Goose grease”) a day? This results in kids playing on athletic fields that at times are literally covered with goose feces.
Not to mention some of our parks. To make matters worse, the geese have lost all fear of humans and brazenly approach people looking for a handout. One only has to go to our beautiful Hubbard Park here in Meriden to see the results.
My Darlin’ Edna and I travel through Hubbard Park almost on a daily basis and see well-meaning people feeding the Canada geese, most of the time old bread that in reality is not good for the geese .But the feeding goes on and the geese say “thank you” by pooping everywhere, including the green in front to the band shell and many of the picnic spots.
And then an unknowing public sits, plays and picnics in areas that have been saturated by goose feces. Yet any attempts to stop the public from feeding these once wild critters by those in authority is frowned upon by many folks.
This feeding can also help spread disease like avian influenza among the flocks of waterfowl. A couple of years ago we had a number of waterfowl dying at Mirror Lake and the cry went up that someone was “poisoning” them.
The truth of the matter is when you feed them and they congregate to get to the bread or other so-called “goodies,” an infected bird can pass the virus on to others in the area. It is no different than when we humans are in a close area with another human infected with a contagious disease.
Here in Connecticut, hunting is one of the means used for controlling and regulating different populations of wildlife. Starting next Thursday, Sept. 1, there will be an early season to try and take down some of the nuisance Canada goose population.
Believe me when I tell you, this is not as easy as it might sound to a non-hunter. Areas in which nuisance Canada geese can be hunted in September are limited, especially when they are located in spots like Hubbard Park and school yards.
Also, what few farms are left in our area have yet to harvest their corn crops. Farms are a popular spot to hunt geese after the corn is cut.
And for those who believe that hunting an over-population of Canada geese should not be allowed, think about your drinking water that is being dosed with copious amounts of goose poop when they are on our reservoirs.
The privilege off waterfowl hunting does not come free of charge. All migratory bird hunters, including waterfowl, woodcock, snipe, rail and crows (YES, you read that right: crows), are required to purchase and carry the current Connecticut Migratory Bird Conservation stamp.
That includes hunters aged 12-15. Hunters 16 years and older are also required to purchase and carry the Federal Duck Stamp.
Since 1994, the Connecticut Migratory Bird Conservation Stamp funds have been used to restore and enhance over 3,145 acres of wetlands. The Connecticut Migratory Bird Conservation Stamp also includes the HIP permit, which can be purchased for $17. A stamp for hunters 12-15 is $9.
Should hunters be concerned about the highly contagious avian flu referred to as “The Bird Flu?” While it has taken a toll on commercial turkeys and laying chickens in the Midwest, transmission has not occurred between the birds and humans.
However, it is wise to take precautionary measures when handling harvested waterfowl. Do not handle birds that are obviously sick or birds that are found dead.
Keep the birds cool, clean and dry. Do not eat, drink or smoke when cleaning birds. Use rubber gloves when cleaning game. Wash your hands with soap and water or alcohol wipes after dressing harvested birds.
Lastly, clean all tools and surfaces immediately afterward. Use hot soapy water, then disinfect with a 10-percent chlorine bleach.
The season for Canada nuisance geese runs Sept. 1-30, with a 15-bird daily bag limit and a 45-bird possession limit. in the Northern Zone (north of Route I-95). The season in the Southern Zone (south of I-95) is Sept. 15-30.
See ya’ and God Bless America and watch over our troops, police, firefighters and first responders wherever they may be serving this great country of ours!