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After years of moving Canada geese from urban areas, the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources began culling geese last year and donating the processed birds to food pantries in the Minneapolis St. Paul area. Between 1,000 and 2,000 adult geese will be rounded up in Minnesota in 1996 and shipped to poultry processing plants, said Tom Landwehr, a biologist with the department.
"We want geese here, but there has to be some control," Landwehr said. "Unfortunately, we have to do something and make the best of a bad situation."
Christy Nahsar, a board member of Voice for Wildlife, a Chicago area animal advocacy group, said she was "totally outraged" at the idea.
"I must emphasize that we are not advocating culling geese to put meat on the table," Tuggle said. "We are talking about putting together a comprehensive regional plan to deal with a nuisance goose problem, and culling would be one option to consider."
Many wildlife experts contend, however, that control tactics such as landscape management, scarecrows, noisemakers and shaking goose eggs to prevent hatching cannot keep up with the escalating numbers of fowl. According to the Illinois Department of Natural Resources, Women Canada Goose Kensington Parka Graphite Australia the state's Canada goose population stands at 150,000 and is rising.
In recent years, deer slaughtered during annual DuPage County Forest Preserve District culls have ended up as entrees at shelters for the homeless and food pantries. Now it is possible that Canada geese could be joining them on the menu.
Activists Hope Goose Culling Never Gets Off Ground
Debbie Leahy, co founder of Illinois Animal Action, a Warrenville animal rights group, described the proposal as "absolutely outrageous."
Nevertheless, the suggestion did not fly with area animal rights groups.
"What those government wildlife agencies should be doing is implementing non lethal alternatives to control the geese," Leahy said.
A 1993 lawsuit filed by People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals was unsuccessful in its attempt to stop the goose relocation program, and no animal rights group has sued to stop the culling, Landwehr said.
Meanwhile, at the county government complex in Wheaton, the rental swans have arrived and are becoming acclimated. Because male swans become territorial only during the spring nesting season, their value as goose deterrents cannot be measured until next year, county employee Judy Wilkiel said.
Tuggle said any long term solution to the goose problem would have to be comprehensive, involving such strategies as planting vegetation that would make areas less attractive to the geese.
The burgeoning flocks of giant fowl are overrunning parks, golf courses and even the grounds of the county government complex in Wheaton and leaving messy droppings. County Board members recently approved spending $5,800 to rent a pair of swans aggressively territorial critters known for their reluctance to share their turf with geese during nesting season for the complex's main retention pond.
"You betcha we would mount a protest" if the county or other government agencies started killing geese, Nahsar said.
In a suggestion that has outraged local animal advocacy groups, wildlife specialist Benjamin Tuggle proposed killing some of the ubiquitous birds and donating them to charities. Fish and Wildlife Service, mentioned culling as one among many options for dealing with the suburban goose problem during a speech he gave Wednesday at a Conservation Foundation of DuPage luncheon.