Fish and Wildlife Service Issues Final Decision on Resident Canada
August 11, 2006
Ken Burton, 202-208-5634
Fish and Wildlife Service released a Record of Decision and
final rule that will allow state wildlife agencies, landowners, and airports
more flexibility in controlling resident Canada goose populations. The
Record of Decision and final rule were published in the August 10 Federal
The Service action is in response to growing impacts from overabundant
populations of resident Canada geese, which can damage property, agriculture,
and natural resources in parks and other areas.
"The Service worked closely with State fish and wildlife agencies
and the Department of Agriculture's Wildlife Services to provide a full
range of options for managing resident Canada goose populations consistent
with health, safety and environmental demands," said Service Director
H. Dale Hall. "This final rule offers the essential flexibility
needed for effective natural resource management."
Resident Canada geese typically stay in the same area or migrate for
short distances. There is no evidence that resident Canada geese breed
with migratory Canada geese that nest in northern Canada and Alaska.
The rapid rise of resident Canada geese populations has been attributed
to a number of factors. Key among them is that most resident Canada
geese live in temperate climates with relatively stable breeding habitat
conditions. They tolerate human and other disturbances, have a relative
abundance of habitat such as mowed grass and waterways, and fly short
distances for winter compared with migratory Canada goose populations.
The absence of waterfowl hunting and natural predators in urban areas
has also contributed to perpetuating overabundance.
In the Atlantic Flyway, the resident Canada goose population has increased
an average of 2 percent per year over the last four years and was estimated
at 1.15 million resident Canada geese this past spring. In the Mississippi
Flyway, giant Canada geese have increased an average of 5 percent per
year since 1997 and this year almost 1.7 million were tallied, a 7
percent increase from last year.
The new regulatory program consists of three components. The first
creates control and depredation orders for airports, landowners, agricultural
producers and public health officials that are designed to address
resident Canada goose depredation and damage while managing conflict.
This component will allow take of resident Canada geese without a federal
permit provided certain reporting and monitoring requirements are fulfilled.
The second component consists of expanded hunting methods and opportunities
and is designed to increase the sport harvest of resident Canada geese.
Under this component, States could choose to expand shooting hours
and allow hunters the use of electronic calls and unplugged shotguns
during a portion of early September resident Canada goose seasons.
The third component consists of a new regulation authorizing the Director
to implement a resident Canada goose population control program, or “management
take”. Management take is defined as a special management action
that is needed to reduce certain wildlife populations when traditional
and otherwise authorized management measures are unsuccessful, not
feasible, or not applicable in preventing injury to property, agricultural
crops, public health, and other interests. Under Management Take, the
take of resident Canada geese outside the existing sport hunting seasons
(September 1 to March 10) would be authorized and would enable States
to authorize a harvest of resident Canada geese
between August 1 and August 31. Management take would be available
to States in the Atlantic, Mississippi, and Central Flyways following
the first full operational year of the other new regulations.
Some of the new regulations will not apply to Alaska, Arizona, California,
Hawaii, Nevada, Washington, Oregon and Utah and parts of Wyoming, Montana,
Colorado and New Mexico. Specifically, only the airport control order,
the nest and egg depredation order, and the public health control order
will be available to the Pacific Flyway states. The Pacific Flyway
requested these States not be included because they have fewer issues
with resident Canada geese. For agricultural issues, States in the
Pacific Flyway will continue to apply for Federal permits. Only State
wildlife agencies and Tribal entities in the Atlantic, Central, and
Mississippi Flyways are eligible to implement all of the new components
for resident Canada geese management.
For specific details on the final rule, readers should consult the
August 10 Federal Register.
The Service received more than 2,700 written comments on the 2002
draft Environmental Inpact Statement and 2, 900 public comments
on the August 2003 proposed rule. 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
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 545 national wildlife refuges, thousands
of small wetlands and other special management areas. It also operates
69 national fish hatcheries, 64 fishery resource offices and 81 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. Visit the
Questions and Answers
Resident Canada Goose Management