Saturday, November 26, 2005

Canadians Invade Maryland

From WTOP:

ANNAPOLIS, Md. (AP) - They may look innocuous, even elegant, but Canada geese are an invasive species doing serious environmental damage, according to state officials.

The Maryland Department of Natural Resources has named the Canada goose the Invader of the Month _ lumping it together with nonnative species such as the red imported fire ant and the giant hogweed.

Problems with Canada geese are familiar to golfers, park managers and many suburbanites. The geese litter lawns with feathers and droppings and can become aggressive while defending their turf.

But they are capable of far more serious damage, including "destruction of wetlands, usually in the upper reaches of freshwater marshes," said Larry Hindman, waterfowl project manager for the DNR. "They've denuded important wetland plants and food sources of native wildlife."

The Canada goose population in Maryland jumped from about 25,000 in 1989 to 90,000 in 1998. Today, it stands at about 86,500, according to the DNR.

We're still not sure if having these foreign invading waterfowl destroy "wetlands" is actually such a bad thing - unless they're driving out the ducks.
Greg Kearns, a Patuxent River Park naturalist who has also worked with Jug Bay, said he has seen fewer birds, such as sora rail, redwing blackbirds and bobolinks, nesting in the marshes, because the geese have taken over.
Early environmentalists may be a cause of the problem:

Others may be descendants of geese brought in to repopulate the Eastern Shore around [the 1930s].

Canada geese like to return to their birthplace and want to nest and feed in the same places, and that "makes it hard eliminate geese once they become settled in a local area," Hindman wrote.

The federal government makes solutions more difficult:

The Maryland-National Park and Planning Commission, which oversees parkland in Montgomery and Prince George's counties, is using two border collies to keep the geese away. Officials are also addling, or shaking, goose eggs so that they don't hatch, said Marion Joyce, a commission spokeswoman.

"If you remove the eggs or crush the eggs, the geese will either build another nest and reproduce, or just reproduce more eggs," she said. With "egg addling, the geese are less likely to abandon the nest and make a new one."

Egg addling or euthanizing geese require a permit from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service because the geese are protected under the Migratory Bird Treaty Act. During the proper season, licensed hunters in Maryland are also allowed to kill Canada geese.


molly said...

you need a permit to shake the eggs? geez. if it were montana, you could just open your back door and fire your shotgun at a few (providing you don't live within city limits)

Nick said...

They're probably protected nationwide since it's due to a treaty, but nobody in Montana would complain.