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The Daily



06-11-03: Feathers fly at goose roundup

The Daily Standard
    Ohio Division of Wildlife officials and about 20 volunteers used a helicopter, boats and vehicles to round up and band more than 700 Canada geese around Grand Lake St. Marys on Tuesday during the division's statewide annual goose roundup.
    Al Gerhart, area manager for the division, said large groups of geese are spotted from the air and their locations are radioed to people on the ground waiting in boats and vehicles. These people herd the geese to a location where they are netted, affixed with leg and neck bands and their sex recorded. The geese then are loaded into trucks and transported to the Mercer County Wildlife Area west of Montezuma.
    Adult geese are rounded up in June when breeding pairs are molting, a process whereby they lose their flight feathers. Their babies are rounded up with them.
    The geese are put into pens at the wildlife area for about three weeks until their flight feathers grow back. After they can fly again, they are released.
    Geese were rounded up at about 15 locations around the lake in Auglaize and Mercer counties on Tuesday. This morning wildlife officials were to check if they missed any large groups that still need banding before heading to Lake Loramie in Shelby and Auglaize counties.
    Gerhart said the bands give wildlife officials a lot of information to help them manage the goose population.
    "Like how long they live, where they migrate to, their sex and age ratios," he said.
    Gerhart said the leg bands are only recovered when a hunter shoots a bird, when a bird is found dead or when wildlife officials recapture them during subsequent roundups.
    Goose roundups at Grand Lake St. Marys show that the local goose population does not migrate, Gerhart said, adding that it is also one of the largest roundups in the state.
    "As far as a true migration, they don't fly south every year for winter," he said. "They may move as far south as the Ohio River to open water, but it's pretty much a resident flock, not like the birds that are from Canada."
    The annual roundup also is a time when residents can call the division and ask them to remove what are referred to as "nuisance" geese that encroach on residential and business areas and pepper their properties with goose droppings. Gerhart said the number of calls the division gets to remove nuisance flocks around Grand Lake has decreased during the last five years because people are learning how to shoo the geese away themselves.
    "Part of it is we put some of the responsibility on landowners to take care of the goose problem themselves," he said. "Landowners have learned to deal with the geese through technical advice we can give them over the phone."
    That advice includes putting up colored reflective mylar tape that flaps in the wind and scares them, and using sound producing devices that also frighten them away.


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