Canada Geese and Working Lands
Over the past 50 years, the wintering Canada goose population in northwest Oregon and southwest Washington has increased from approximately 15,000-25,000 to 350,000-400,000. The Valley's three National Wildlife Refuges established in the 1960s to provide a safe wintering place for these migrating waterfowl contain far less habitat than is needed to support today's population. The result has been substantial crop damage on private lands as geese seek additional foraging grounds.
This issue is a complicated one involving the states of Oregon, Washington, and Alaska, the Pacific Flyway Council, and Alaska native entities. The breeding grounds for these geese are in the Yukon-Kuskokwim Delta in Alaska where they serve as a subsistence food for Alaska natives. Population objectives are set by the Pacific Flyway Council with input from all involved parties. Canada goose hunting programs in the Valley are complex as some goose subspecies require more protection than others. We asked for input about the types of actions the Service should consider to help address this issue.Read more about geese and working lands in the Willamette Valley (PDF)
What We've Heard
Comments have ranged from reducing the population through limited hunting opportunities to providing additional bird refuges in key areas. We've also received suggestions to create an incentive program for farmers to grow forage crops for geese, as well as a compensation program for farmers who sustain crop damage. Comments have highlighted this as an issue for parks and golf courses as well, and it's been suggested the Service expand its investigation beyond agricultural lands.
What We're Doing
Over the years, we have been working to help address the effects of wintering Canada geese through refuge land management, monitoring use patterns across the Valley, and assisting with ODFW's hunt program and USDA's hazing program. Recent research on Canada goose populations in the Valley, including their dietary requirements and movement patterns, is under review.
We've engaged the Pacific Flyway Council on this issue and we've held discussions with the managers of the breeding grounds in Alaska to establish an understanding of the issues we face in the wintering grounds. We will continue to engage the farming community and all other interested parties to determine what further measures we might implement to assist with wintering goose management in the Willamette Valley.
In this section you will find links to resources related to Canada geese and working lands in the Willamette Valley. In most cases they are resources produced by the USFWS or resources that we are using to help inform the Conservation Study. If you have suggestions for additional resources, feel free to contact us.