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The goose that conquered America

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 Biology   |   Environmental   |   Science   |   Social Science
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The Canada goose is a nuisance. But you might not realize how it got that way.
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In this episode of Vox Almanac, Voxs Phil Edwards explores the poop-filled history of the Canada goose and the way people transformed it from migratory wonder to public nuisance.

If youve played on a soccer field or strolled past a golf course in the United States, youve doubtless seen gaggles of Canada geese terrorizing the public space. These geese were actually put here by state agencies in the 1960s, '70s, and '80s as part of public programs to create Canada goose populations after nearly hunting the bird to extinction. Because these birds are all protected by the Migratory Bird Treaty Act, it proves surprisingly difficult to get the geese to leave.

There are some methods of geese removal, like egg oiling, or addling, that stop new geese from hatching. Its a lot of effort, but it works. Still, these Canada geese illustrate some of the unintended consequences that happened when people tried to foster flocks in the last half-century.

Further Reading:

Home grown honkers was a definitive guide to goose raising. You can find information about it here, and some used copies are available online: https://pubs.er.usgs.gov/publication/93780

Cornell Lab of Ornithologys bird guide is an invaluable resource to learn the basics about all birds, including the Canada goose: https://www.allaboutbirds.org/guide/Canada_Goose/

Many state agencies have written histories of their geese programs, but this Federal Impact Statement from 2002 is the best option for an overall picture: https://books.google.com/books?id=VzA3AQAAMAAJ&dq=canada%20goose%20history%20extinction&pg=PP2#v=onepage&q=canada%20goose%20history%20extinction&f=false

Harold Hansons book, The Giant Canada Goose, chronicles the rediscovery of a species once thought extinct (as well as some breeding advice): https://books.google.com/books/about/The_Giant_Canada_Goose.html?id=EzXxAAAAMAAJ

These bird population studies give you a picture of changing bird populations over the past 50 years: https://www.mbr-pwrc.usgs.gov/bbs/tr2015/trend2015_v3.html


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