Here’s a good article on the problem of non-migratory Canada Geese in Connecticut. First up, why they won’t migrate:
“There has been a steady increase of the nonmigratory Canada geese since the 1950s,” Cherichetti said.
Harris estimated that there were 40,000 Canada geese in the state, primarily in the southwestern region.
Cherichetti said the geese are staying because they have the perfect combination of foraging (food), nesting (habitat) and covering habitat in this area of the state. They also don’t have many natural predators left in Connecticut.
“With each nesting pair producing nonmigratory goslings each year, there are thousands of geese born each year that do not migrate,” said Patrice Gillespie of the Wilton Conservation Commission member and a member of the Norwalk River Watershed Initiative. “Because we feed them and provide them with mowed lawns and well-groomed grass, we provide them with an ample food source, thus contributing to the excess nutrient problem they create.”
And take a look at the “approved” method for controlling the population:
As a result, Cherichetti and other local environmental activists are urging local residents, especially those with waterfront property, to do their part in controlling the geese population through geese “family planning.”
“We are trying to reduce their long-term growth rate by locating their nests and oiling their eggs,” Cherichetti said. “The oiling means that the clutch of eggs is non-viable and won’t mature into chicks. The birds continue to incubate the nests because they don’t realize the eggs aren’t viable. If we were to take the eggs away instead, it would result in the geese laying more eggs.”
According to Cherichetti, in order to legally oil the eggs, municipalities must obtain a registration from the Fish and Wildlife Service. Then, with the permission of private property owners, environmental officers like Cherichetti can enter their property and oil the nests.
Eggs are only oiled if they do not float during a float test. If an egg, submerged in water, floats it means it is in the later stages of incubation and the chick has fully formed, so the egg wouldn’t be oiled. If the egg sinks, in means it has been incubated for less than 13 days and the chick is not matured, so the egg is allowed to be oiled.
This method has been approved by several animal rights groups, including GeesePeace, PETA and the Humane Society because of the “float test” method, Cherichetti said.
“I think it’s because of that clause that animal rights groups approve of the oiling and are even quite active in the oiling because they recognize that without minimally invasive methods to control the geese population the geese are going to have other issues like over-competition for food and diseases,” Cherichetti said.
Other issues . . . like airplane crashes.
Thanks in part to a feel-good bird-sanctuary earmark provided by Sen. Chuck Schumer, Laguardia airport has witnessed and a near tripling of bird strikes over the past few years:
When Flight 1549 took off from LaGuardia, North and South Brother Island Sanctuaries were about one-and-a-half miles to its west. As the jet headed north, it flew within two miles of Goose Island, another city bird sanctuary.
Seconds later, pilots radioed a bird strike and the plane started losing altitude as it headed for the Hudson.
“I predicted something just like that based on what we knew as a result of our study and the close proximity of a large bird population,” aviation attorney Andrew Maloney said.
Data that we obtained from the Port Authority shows a dramatic increase in the number of reported bird strikes at LaGuardia in the last six years — From 31 bird strikes in 2002 to 87 in 2007, nearly a tripling in the number of strikes.
Parks and Recreation insists its sanctuaries pose no threat to aircraft. Egrets and cormorants nest on the islands. Experts we spoke to say both can pose risk to aircraft. In 2004, a passenger jet had to make an emergency landing in Chicago after one engine ingested two cormorants and caught on fire.
“Each one of these birds that are wading birds, all get sucked into engines and all pose a threat. They all pose a threat,” Garber said.
A spokesperson for Parks and Recreation says there is no causal link between birds nesting on these islands and any bird strikes. She said the Port Authority has not contacted parks about the issue.