The geese have returned to the Lakeland. Maybe spring is just around the corner.
You wouldn’t say as old man winter still lingers on as snow, and cold temps remain.
However, the honking of the iconic birds is once again filling Lakeland skies as flocks return from their southern United States wintering grounds.
During the Morning After segment with Mayor Maureen Miller from the Town of St. Paul, a vast flock flu in as the live interview began.
“That means springs on its way or silly, silly to assume it’s coming to this early they are looking for open water as you can see,” Mayor Miller said. “But hopefully, it is a sign. Yes, this Spring is arriving.”
The geese need water for their goslings when they hatch for protection from predators. Their return marks the optimism of the coming Spring and the joy it brings to Lakeland residents.
Canada Geese have experienced extraordinary growth in abundance and expanded their geographic range. In particular, those Canada Geese that nest, raise their young, and molt in southern Canada’s most heavily populated areas have increased rapidly. There is no shortage of them in the Lakeland this time of year.
Interestingly, Canadian geese return to the nest where they first learned to fly. Canada geese breeding in southern Canada are not northern geese that stopped migrating; they result from the natural increase of populations that were re-introduced or introduced. The present-day southern landscape provides abundant high-quality habitat for geese, so they have expanded dramatically in numbers and distribution. Northern-breeding geese still maintain their historic migratory behavior, nesting in Canada’s sub-arctic regions and wintering in the United States of America (USA).
The extraordinary growth of Canada Geese, like that of many species of geese, has occurred because of their adaptability to environments that human populations have heavily influenced. In the Lakeland, Canada, Geese live in mild climates with abundant wetland and grassland habitats and few natural predators.
Many gravitate to suburban and urban areas where they are protected from predators and safe from hunting. On top of this, food sources are more abundant and of higher nutritional value than in the past, primarily due to the expansion of agricultural activities on the land and the adaptation of geese to foraging in these environments. This combination of factors contributes to the consistently high annual production of young birds and increases their ability to survive from year to year. The unprecedented abundance of high-quality food on the landscape also benefits geese that breed in northern Canada by allowing them to stay in more significant numbers over winter and more easily accumulate reserves needed for egg-laying.
In many areas, Canada’s Goose populations have not reached the habitat’s carrying capacity, and there is no biological reason to expect that these populations will stop growing in the short term.
At present, the conservation status of Canada Geese is not threatened; populations in all regions are well above objectives; there is no conservation risk to providing permits to eligible people who need them to reduce damage and danger caused by Canada Geese on their property.
There are several management options available to municipalities or individuals in Canada to help deal with nuisance migratory birds, such as preventing feeding by the public, habitat modification, hazing and scaring, treatment of eggs to prevent hatching, or in specified circumstances, relocation of birds to another area. Some actions listed above may only be done after obtaining a permit from EC-CWS.
Many resources are available online to help; a quick web search using the terms “nuisance geese” brings up several web resources related to this problem.
If you observe any person killing geese without a permit or participating in activities that you believe violate the Migratory Birds Convention Act, 1994 and/or its Regulations, you should contact EC’s Wildlife Enforcement Branch at 1-800-668-6767.