Nuisance geese could be taken out with rifle under law

Columbus – There's good news for Ohio's grain farmers as state wildlife officials propose the use of both rifles and shotguns to kill the Canada geese that are eating field crops.

The DNR Division of Wildlife is advocating a change to the Ohio Administrative Code (OAC) that would allow farmers to shoot nuisance Canada geese with a rifle. Under the current rule, only a shotgun can be used to kill predating geese in the spring and summer months.

As with the current rule, the landowner will first be required to obtain a goose damage control permit from the division. The permit is free of charge and limits the number of geese killed between March 1 and Aug. 31 to 25.

“Often in the spring when damage is occurring, farmers are unable to get close enough to use a shotgun,” said Jim Lehman, law enforcement administrator for the Division of Wildlife. “This rule will allow farmers another tool to protect their crops.”

A public hearing on the proposed rule change, along with several others presented to the Ohio Wildlife Council in January, is set for Saturday, March 6 at the division's central district office, 1500 Dublin Road, Columbus. The council will vote on the change on April 7.

Given Ohio's lengthy legislative rule-making process, it's unlikely the revised rule will go into effect in time to help farmers this coming spring.

However, it will be on the books by the spring of 2011, said Chris Henney, director of legislative relations for the Ohio Farm Bureau Federation.

The farm bureau has only anecdotal information on the amount of damage Canada geese inflict on Ohio field crops annually. Henney suspects the problem is worse in the northwest where row crops dominate the landscape.

“We hear stories about geese pulling (young) corn out of rows and eating grain right off the ground,” Henney said.

He understands the Division of Wildlife will require farmers to try numerous other tactics to control geese before issuing a damage control permit.

“The nice thing about a rifle is that you'll be able to take aim at a distance and avoid flushing the geese,” Henney said. “It's likely that most farmers will use a .22 caliber.”

Before 1950, the federally and state-protected birds were known only as migrants and winter visitors in Ohio. Efforts by the Division of Wildlife to reintroduce resident flocks in the 1950s met with immediate success.

Many of Ohio's Canada geese now live in the state year round and pose a nuisance to residential neighborhoods, recreational facilities, and agriculture. Human-goose conflicts are common, especially during the March-to-June nesting season.

Dave Sherman, a biologist at the Crane Creek Wildlife Research Center, estimated Ohio's Canada goose population at 99,000 in spring 2009.

Categories: Hunting News, News Archive, Waterfowl

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