ST. PAUL (AP) -- Minnesota would have greater authority to control problems by resident Canada geese under a proposed rule change recommended by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.
In the proposal released last week, states would be given broader authority to control the geese by destroying nests and eggs, expanding hunting opportunities and launching trapping and culling programs.
The growing goose population has been blamed for crop damage and for fouling lawns, beaches, waterways and parks with droppings. Minnesota's resident goose population has quadrupled since the mid-1980s.
Under the proposal geese could be hunted as early as Aug. 1. Hunters would be allowed to use electronic calls, more shells than the current three-shell limit, liberal daily bag limits and expanded shooting hours.
"We supported having more latitude to control the goose population, and we'll be looking at some of those tools," said Jeff Lawrence, DNR waterfowl specialist.
The additional methods will likely not be available until 2003. The Fish and Wildlife Service is taking public comments through May 30, and the proposal probably won't be finalized until fall.
The rule change targets only resident Canada geese, or those that reside and nest in the state, not geese that migrate through the state and nest in Canada. Last spring, Minnesota's resident goose population was 285,000, including about 20,000 in the Twin Cities area. That's well above the state's population goal of 182,000.
About 6,000 geese are trapped and removed from the Twin Cities annually. Goslings are taken elsewhere and released; adult birds are slaughtered and sent to food shelves. Hunters have been the main source of population control.
Minnesota regularly ranks No. 1 nationally in goose harvest. The state's Canada goose kill climbed to a record 231,000 in 1999. Last year, hunters killed about 159,000 Canada geese.
Under the Fish and Wildlife Service proposal, states could use the expanded goose-control methods without having to apply for federal permits, as they do now. The states still would have to monitor their spring goose population levels and ensure those numbers don't fall below each state's population objective.
The objective is not to severely reduce the resident Canada goose population, but rather to keep the population in check, said Steve Wilds, regional migratory bird chief for the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.
"These birds are valuable," Wilds said. "The states want them, but they just want an easier way to deal with them."
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