Farmers press case on goose management
Updated: Thursday, January 10, 2013 10:50 AM
Money allocated for nonlethal deterrents, but growers want alternatives
By MITCH LIES
Scappoose, Ore., farmer Marie Gadotti has been trying for decades to convince federal officials that Canada geese cause hundreds of thousands of dollars of damage to Oregon crops.
This past summer in a meeting with Alaskan and federal fish and wildlife agency officials, she said, the message finally got through.
"By the time we got done, we didn't have one person in that room questioning damage," she said. "It was a breakthrough in the fact that we proved our case."
U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service officials have since dedicated $48,000 to help farmers obtain propane cannons, coyote silhouettes and other nonlethal geese deterrents.
Farmers can contact USDA Wildlife Services to obtain the materials at 503-871-6209.
Still, Gadotti said, the Oregon contingent of farmers, farm representatives and state officials failed to obtain critical concessions from native Alaskans on geese population targets and kill permits.
Native Alaskans continue to defy a proposal to loosen restrictions on killing geese outside hunting seasons, Gadotti said.
Among concessions the Oregon contingent sought was an increase in kill permits and authorization to leave dead geese in fields to attract coyotes and other geese predators.
Current kill permits are limited to 500 geese, Gadotti said, and require farmers to retrieve dead geese and bring them to an Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife authorized site, where agents determine species type and dispose of the bird.
"We wanted to leave the bird out there, because it brings in coyotes and eagles, which we thought was the best use of that bird," Gadotti said.
The Oregon contingent also failed to sway Alaskans to support lowering their population targets for cackling Canada geese, which could enable Oregon officials to increase goose hunting options. The geese are smaller than most other types of Canada geese and have a high-pitched call and purplish breast feathers. They spend the summers in western Alaska and winters in western Oregon and California, where they congregate with other types of Canada geese.
ODFW officials estimate 250,000 cacklers overwinter each year in Oregon, with most residing the Willamette Valley.
"They said they need 250,000 cacklers," Gadotti said.
ODFW officials estimate the total number of geese in the valley each winter at between 300,000 and 400,000.