Are management hunts in city parks the answer to wild game population issues?

A sunrise scouting mission.

A buddy and I went on a scouting mission for the early Canada goose and teal seasons just prior to the seasons opening on Sept. 1 and we were a bit disappointed by what we found.

We hunt close to the city that we live in – a city that has so many Canada geese living in town that it has hosted in-city hunts in the past. We scouted west of town in a spot that is normally pretty good for us for geese and we’ve even found a few teal there during the recent experimental seasons. There were some geese around, but not in the numbers we’ve seen in the past.

In the city limits, though, that’s another story. There are a good number of geese. Perhaps the birds know that the city hunt has been discontinued.

I don’t blame city officials from stopping the hunt. It’s a lot of work and frankly, it’s not that effective for reducing goose numbers or keeping local parks and ball fields free of “goose grease.” To keep the parks clean, you need constant vigilance – someone needs to be chasing the birds continually from about Aug. 1 through mid-September.

I see that the city of Hillsdale is trying a Canada goose hunt at Baw Beese Lake Park this fall. It will be held concurrently with the state’s early goose hunt. The city council is also planning an archery hunt to address a booming deer population.

While I applaud the city’s efforts, especially since they’re letting hunters do the shooting instead of hired sharp-shooters, I don’t believe it will be enough to keep their park clean or their deer numbers down. Sure, hunters will take a good number of geese in the first day or two of the hunt, but then the geese will get wise and find someone else’s park to befoul. They’ll return next year. The harassment may help hunters outside of town get a few more birds, though.

In spite of finding fewer birds than we have in the past, my buddy and I weren’t completely discouraged with our scouting effort on the river. It’s always great to get outside and see and hear what’s going on. We tried a little fishing, saw geese, and ducks – although no teal – and were treated to freighters blowing their signals in the patchy fog. The morning air was so still that the report from the boat horns would roll slowly around the shore of the bay we were in, lasting for about 15 seconds after the ship’s horn had stopped sounding.

Here’s hoping some migratory geese come land with the locals now that the season is open.

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