Township renews resolution to allow permits for action against Canada geese

By: Sarah Wojcik | Shelby - Utica News | Published March 9, 2016

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SHELBY TOWNSHIP — On March 1, the Shelby Township Board of Trustees renewed a five-year resolution to allow private landowners to apply for permits for Michigan Department of Natural Resources programs to destroy Canada goose nests and/or relocate birds.

“We had residents contact us because we had a resolution signed five years ago and it was up, but it’s something that has been in place for a while,” said Shelby Township Parks, Recreation and Maintenance Department Director Joe Youngblood, who requested that the item be placed on the board’s consent agenda.

Youngblood said 18 private landowners in the township — including individual homeowners, businesses, apartment complexes and Cherry Creek Golf Course — have applied for permits in the past and perhaps would again.

“At Heritage Gardens, people walk around the asphalt pathway and there is goose feces everywhere. It is a problem,” Youngblood said. “One homeowner who lives on a lake said he couldn’t mow the back 20 feet of his grass, and his kids couldn’t go in the backyard because the geese were attacking his kids.”

Nate Newman, a wildlife biologist with the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Wildlife Services, which issues the permits, said the first thing applicants must prove is that they tried other preventative measures.

Such measures, he said, include hunting, feeding bans, habitat modifications, scare devices, scarecrows, flags, fences, reflective tape and harassment.

Youngblood said Cherry Creek Golf Course utilizes dogs that chase away geese, as well as remote-controlled cars.

“There’s a whole protocol about what would make you eligible for your application to be approved,” Newman said. “(Goose-inhabited sites) have got to be in a certain location.”

The nest and egg destruction program is generally a prerequisite for the round-up/removal program, Newman said. He said that applicants must receive training or contract a company to freeze and dispose of eggs.

“It’s not real easy to do,” Youngblood said. “You’ve got to take umbrellas and shoo away the geese.”

In the removal program, Newman said geese must be hand-loaded into crates, inspected and released at a state-approved site. According to the MDNR website, “Some geese rounded up during June may be killed and prepared by a licensed meat processor for distribution to charitable organizations for use in soup kitchens.”

The best practice to rid a specific site of geese, Newman said, is subjective and usually a combination of techniques.

“There’s been a lot of research saying they tend to just return. Geese want to have their nests in the same spot each year,” he said. “Because Canadian geese are a federally and state-protected bird, nothing is intended to eradicate geese. (The programs’ purpose is to) try to limit or alleviate geese. Eradication is not possible anyway.”

Because Shelby Township approved a resolution to support the program, Newman said a signed petition from 70 percent of the lakefront property owners is not required. However, he said all property owners must be notified before any action is taken.

Shelby Township’s resolution maintains that there be no cost to the township, but the website lists a $200 DNR permit fee per site or $100 for single-family residences, along with any costs charged by private contractors.

For more information, call (517) 284-9453 or visit www.michigan.gov/dnr, select “Wildlife & Habitat,” “Wildlife Species,”  “Problem Wildlife” and then “Resident Canada Goose Management Frequently Asked Questions.”

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