August 21, 2003
The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service today is proposing to provide State wildlife agencies more flexibility in controlling resident Canada goose populations. Under a proposed rule published in the Federal Register, the Service would hand over much of the day-to-day management responsibility to States while maintaining primary authority to manage these populations.
The proposed rule, based on the preferred alternative outlined in a Draft Environmental Impact Statement released March 1, 2002, would authorize population control strategies such as aggressive harassment, nest destruction, gosling and adult trapping and culling programs, increased hunter harvest, or other general population reduction strategies. The rule will also offer guidelines for other activities such as special take authorization during a portion of the closed hunting season; control for the protection of airport safety, agriculture, and public health; and the take of nests and eggs without permits.
Presently, State Fish and Wildlife agencies or their authorized agents, such as the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Wildlife Services division, need a Federal permit issued by the Service to control resident Canada geese. This rule would provide for opportunities to eliminate the need for most individual permits for resident Canada goose control activities.
“Since this bird's population is increasing and they have been shown to cause local impacts to natural and economic resources, we believe local management with national oversight is the best approach to reduce conflicts,” said Service Director Steve Williams.
To accommodate new information that may have become available since publication of the 2002 draft EIS, the Service is also re-opening the public comment period for 60 days.
The public may inspect comments during normal business hours in Room 4107, 4501 North Fairfax Drive, Arlington, Virginia. You may obtain copies of the draft environmental impact statement from the above address or from the Division of Migratory Bird Management web site at http://migratorybirds.fws.gov.
Resident Canada geese stay in the same general area, and no evidence documents breeding between resident Canada geese and migratory Canada geese that nest in northern Canada and Alaska.
The Service and the States estimate current resident Canada goose population at 3.2 million in the United States, about 30 percent to 35 percent above the number States believe to be acceptable based on their need to manage conflicts and problems caused by excessive numbers of resident Canada geese. Resident Canada goose populations will be monitored annually by the States and the Service. The estimated take of birds must be provided by participating States.
The rapid rise of resident Canada goose populations has been attributed to a number of factors. Most resident Canada geese live in temperate climates with relatively stable breeding habitat conditions and low numbers of predators. They tolerate human and other disturbances, have a relative abundance of preferred habitat (such as mowed grass in urban/suburban areas), and fly relatively short distances for winter compared with other Canada goose populations. The virtual absence of waterfowl hunting in urban areas provides additional protection to those portions of the resident Canada goose population.
Expansion of existing annual hunting season and the issuance of control permits have all been used to reduce resident goose numbers with varying degrees of success. While these approaches have provided relief in some areas, they have not completely addressed the problem.
Overabundant populations of resident Canada geese can affect or damage several types of resources, including property, agriculture, and natural resources. In parks and other open areas near water, large goose flocks create local problems with their droppings.
Comments should be sent by October 20, 2003, to Chief, Division of Migratory Bird Management, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Department of the Interior, 4401 North Fairfax Drive, MBSP-4107, Arlington, Virginia 22203 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
The U.S. Fish and Wildlife
Service is the principal Federal agency responsible for conserving,
protecting and enhancing fish, wildlife and plants and their habitats
for the continuing benefit of the American people. The Service manages
the 95-million-acre National Wildlife Refuge System which encompasses
nearly 542 national wildlife refuges, thousands of small wetlands and
other special management areas. It also operates 69 national fish hatcheries,
64 fishery resource offices and 78 ecological services field stations.
The agency enforces Federal wildlife laws, administers the Endangered
Species Act, manages migratory bird populations, restores nationally
significant fisheries, conserves and restores wildlife habitat such
as wetlands, and helps foreign governments with their conservation efforts.
It also oversees the Federal Aid program that distributes hundreds of
millions of dollars in excise taxes on fishing and hunting equipment
to state fish and wildlife agencies.
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