Goose complaints likely increasing

Glenwood, Minn. ’Äî High crop prices and a late start to
planting are expected to lead to increased goose depredation
complaints this year.

In some places, complaints had been on the decline for the last
several years, but they’Äôre more common this year. Other areas
have seen steady numbers of depredation complaints.

’ÄúWe’Äôre probably going to have a heavy season,’Äù said Nick
Reindl, depredation coordinator for the DNR’Äàin Brainerd. ’ÄúI
would anticipate more problems than in past years when corn and
soybeans get more of a jump on the goslings.’Äù

The area from about Fergus Falls to Crookston has had the most
depredation activity in the last few years; before that, most was
in the southwest. But depredation seems to be on the rise there
this year.

More materials designed to reduce depredation have been put out
in the Slayton area than in previous years, Reindl said, and there
have been more calls than usual in the Montevideo and Glenwood
areas.

In a typical year, between 650 and 800 depredation complaints
are registered; about 30 percent of them are goose-related.

’ÄúI don’Äôt know if there are more geese, but we’Äôre getting
more calls,’Äù said Kevin Kotts, DNR area wildlife manager in
Glenwood.

Geese nest and hatch at about the same time every year, but the
weather this spring has delayed the planting of crops in many
areas. Fields of both corn and beans are beginning to come up, but
the geese hatched in early May and got a headstart on growing.

’ÄúYou’Äôve got big geese eating little plants, so they can mow
them down a little faster,’Äù Kotts said.

In typical years, it doesn’Äôt take long for corn to be out of
reach of geese. In the Glenwood and Montevideo areas, most of the
problems tend to be associated with bean fields. In both cases,
though, there also have been complaints of depredation on wheat
fields.

The increase in calls could be because of high crop prices.

’ÄúThey’Äôre worth more, so people are going to be a little less
tolerant of damage,’Äù Kotts said.

Curt Vacek, DNR area wildlife supervisor in Montevideo, said
calls about depredation in his area began a couple of weeks ago.
There was a time when his office would get as many as 40 calls a
year; it’Äôs been six or 10 in recent years, and he expects it will
be 15 to 20 this year.

The DNR can provide up to $500 worth of equipment to help
landowners with depredation problems. Other options include
flagging, propane cannons, cracker shells, egg removal, and
shooting permits.

’ÄúWe’Äôve been able to communicate with and educate most of the
people who have chronic problems,’Äù Vacek said. ’ÄúI think people
are learning how to deal with it on their own. Once we give them a
fencing system, it’Äôs theirs to keep, so we normally don’Äôt have
to deal with them again unless they have a new problem.’Äù

Complaints have been steady in the Crookston area, where
shooting permits are the standby for dealing with goose
depredation.

Fencing often isn’Äôt effective there, and geese move from
little pond to little pond.

’ÄúIf people get shots at them, I don’Äôt hear from them
again,’Äù said Ross Hier, DNR assistant area wildlife manager in
Crookston. While a number of geese are killed under shooting
permits, they’Äôre also effective at dispersing geese because
’Äúthe adults don’Äôt relish those shotgun blasts.’Äù

Physical barriers and other means are effective at controlling
depredating geese in some circumstances and in some areas, but the
method that works is dependent on the site.

The DNR also recommends that landowners consider a couple of
other options.

’ÄúWe encourage landowners to allow a buffer strip or natural
buffer strip so they aren’Äôt planting down to the water’Äôs edge
on a wetland. That’Äôs the worst thing,’Äù Reindl said. ’ÄúAnd we
want to encourage hunter activity to reduce the (goose) population
through recreational means.’Äù

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