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Flock of Annoying Geese to Be Killed, Eaten

Flock of Annoying Geese to Be Killed, Eaten

Scarsdale, New York, to donate irritating birds to charity

Wikimedia/Russell and Sydney Poore

Opinions on geese vary. The giant birds can be cool to look at, but they can also be loud, aggressive, and messy. A flock of Canadian geese has worn out its welcome in Scarsdale, N.Y., and town officials have decided to deal with the birds the old-fashioned way: by killing them and turning them into meat.

CBS reports that the geese are being killed after complaints about droppings and at least two goose attacks. The USDA will take care of the killing, and then donate the meat to The Food Bank for Westchester.

The plan has drawn some opposition, and Friends of Animals opined that killing the geese would be brutal and a waste of tax dollars.

But some locals assert that killing all the geese is the right thing to do, because they’re really annoying.

"Our golf course, every once in awhile, is overloaded with geese, and you don’t want to play and then walk around the droppings," said resident Jerry Golden.

Spoiled golf games aside, wild geese are not unwelcome at food banks.

"We have received wild goose meat in the past," said Kendall Hanna, executive director of the Central Pennsylvania Food Bank in Harrisburg, which received a shipment of meat from geese killed to prevent them from causing aviation hazards. "The meat is valued by our clientele and moves out of there very, very quickly."

Geese do make for good eating. Check out some of our best goose recipes for ideas.

Canada Goose Facts

The Canada goose (Branta canadensis) is the largest species of true goose. Its scientific name, Branta canadensis, means "black or burnt goose from Canada." While Canada goose is the bird's official and preferred name, it is also known colloquially as the Canadian goose.

Fast Facts: Canada Goose

  • Scientific Name:Branta canadensis
  • Common Names: Canada goose, Canadian goose (colloquial)
  • Basic Animal Group: Bird
  • Size: 30 to 43 inches long 3 feet, 11 inch to 6 feet, 3 inch wingspan
  • Lifespan: 10 to 24 years in the wild
  • Diet: Mostly herbivorous
  • Habitat: Native to arctic and temperate North America, but introduced elsewhere
  • Conservation Status: Least Concern

Why Not Eat Canada Goose? (Op-Ed)

Steve Zack is Coordinator of Bird Conservation at the Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS), a conservation organization that also runs the Bronx Zoo, New York Aquarium and other facilities. Zack contributed this article to Live Science's Expert Voices: Op-Ed & Insights.

The Canada goose — North America's most familiar, and among the most hunted, of waterfowl — is not the Christmas table centerpiece it might have been. A cooked goose is considered a wonderful meal, delectable with dark meat in both legs and breast. Yet the turkey (considered by many to be less succulent) is now the more common holiday roast here, and even in England.

Christmas is coming, the geese are getting fat Please to put a penny in the old man's hat. If you haven't got a penny, a ha'penny will do, If you haven't got a ha'penny then God bless you!

Traditional nursery rhyme

For that, blame can be shared in part by Charles Dickens, and much later, North America's large, green parks. At the poor Cratchits' table in 1843's "A Christmas Carol," Charles Dickens has the Ghost of Christmas Present share with Scrooge a vision of family joy: The Cratchits sitting down to a classic stuffed-goose dinner. [11 Health Benefits of Christmas Dinner ]

Scrooge's turkey, not goose

The redeemed Scrooge later exults in sending Tiny Tim to purchase a bird for his family's Christmas table. This time, he encourages the boy to eschew the traditional goose for a turkey — a superior, highbrow, cooking fowl. The turkey's central place at the holiday table was established for Dickens' English audience and soon across the pond for our own country's readership.

While the goose is, for the most part, no longer cooked at Christmas time as a part of either nation's tradition, this may seem puzzling to some in the United States. The Canada goose is an abundant and conspicuous bird here. To those in the know (hunters, mostly), they are considered a great meal, referred to by some as the "roast beef of the skies."

Yet even without the literary influence of our esteemed Mr. Dickens, Americans' unique history with the Canada goose, beginning in Colonial times, has played out in such a way as to insure that it would never become our preferred holiday fowl. The reason is related to how and where we have managed this species, once rare, back to abundance.

On the hunt for Canadian geese

Colonists found the Canada goose to be among the abundant bounty of the New World. Colonial-era hunting, which grew into market hunting, saw the end of the hyper-abundant passenger pigeon and massive declines in most all birds. The great passion for bird hunting and consumption left the Canada goose in decline, and the biggest of the seven subspecies, the giant Canada goose, thought to be extinct.

The subsequent revival of wild Canada geese populations is among the greatest successes of wildlife agencies in the United States. In the 1960s, the giant Canada goose was rediscovered and reintroduced widely in the east and into the south, beyond its historic range. Better management of hunting allowed for the return of this and other goose subspecies across the country. [Growing Bird Populations Show Conservation Successes ]

With a revival of Canada geese in the east came two dramatic changes that are greatly in evidence today. First, this giant fowl has become an abundant denizen of our urban and suburban landscapes. Second, it has become so comfortable in these environments that it has widely lost its migration habit. The re-introduced giant Canada goose has found ample food by eating residual grain from fallow fields.

Geese now enjoy the perfect habitat and refuge in and around our modern cities. We have created large green spaces, parks and golf courses, with lush grasses that we mow regularly. Short grass is high in protein content, low in roughage — perfect for grazers like geese. Our parks and golf courses have water (lakes and ponds) important for refuge from land predators. Also found among our green spaces are small islands in those water bodies perfect for nesting geese.

We don't hunt in urban centers or in suburbia. Because we have unwittingly provided abundant food, habitat and security from predators, these Canada geese populations have few checks on population growth. As a result, the revived giant Canada goose in the east and south is now a common and resident pest. So, too, the large western Canada goose subspecies.

Eating pests?

Like gulls, pigeons, rats and other commensal animals around us, we are not inclined to eat geese, which have achieved quite a different image in the public imagination since Dickens, describing the meat of this bird, observed that its "tenderness and flavour, size and cheapness, were the themes of universal admiration." Our animal "pests," by contrast, are associated with real and imagined public health concerns.

We haven't domesticated the Canada goose, but the growth of parks and other natural spaces have created both habitat and food to sustain an abundant urban wildlife species. According to the old nursery rhyme, the fattening of the geese tells us Christmas is nigh. That today it more likely indicates the arrival of a new spot of urban green space is a development even the Ghost of Christmas Future would not have predicted.

Follow all of the Expert Voices issues and debates — and become part of the discussion — on Facebook, Twitter and Google+. The views expressed are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of the publisher. This version of the article was originally published on Live Science.

About This Article

If geese keep landing on your property, there are a few different ways you can get them to leave and stop coming back. Try setting up predator decoys on your property, like fake alligator heads in bodies of water and fake dog cutouts. Move the decoys regularly so the geese don’t realize they’re fake. You can also apply a liquid bird repellent to the grass on your property to discourage geese from gathering there. Geese usually land in flat, wide-open areas where they can easily see potential predators, so planting tall shrubs or grasses that block their line of sight can help scare them off. If you have any bodies of water on your property, closing them off with a fence or other barrier will make geese less likely to land near them. Chasing away geese or scaring them off with loud noises whenever you see them may eventually get them to leave for good. While all of these methods will help get rid of geese on your property, make sure you’re not attempting to scare off geese that are nesting or raising young. Once their young are old enough to fly, then it’s okay to start deterring them again. To learn how you can use a specially-trained dog to scare away geese, read on!

How to Stop a Goose Attack

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Geese are territorial birds and are known to chase or attack humans who disturb their territory. While geese may chase people, an actual physical attack is fairly rare. You can stop a goose's aggression by respectfully leaving its territory. Back away slowly, while remaining calm. Do not do anything that may escalate the situation, like yelling. In the event you are injured, seek medical attention to assess your injuries.

How Holy Geese Saved the Republic During The First Sack of Rome (390 BCE)

Rome is often viewed in a few set periods. The Fledgling founding by Romulus, the Punic Wars, the Civil wars and Empire, and finally the fall. Once Rome grew to cover most of Italy they it exploded into the Mediterranean, scooping up new territory with almost every war, but the struggle for Italy was a long and taxing period for Rome.

They fought many fierce enemies near and far and in wars lasting generations. The great siege of Veii was a monumental undertaking of a strong rival city only ten miles away, and that took approximately ten years to complete.

When hordes of Celts came rampaging through Italy, the Romans were simply not prepared for the new and fearsome enemies from outside their familiar Italy.The Celtic expansions of the 6th-3rd centuries BCE caused a lot of early commotion throughout Europe. It would bring about the growth of a Celtiberian realm in Spain, and the Celts traveled so far that they formed their own state in the middle of modern Turkey. A group of Celts known as the Senone was led through Italy by their commander, Brennus.

The Senone Gauls were threatening the nearby town of Clusium, when Roman Ambassadors from the Fabii family were sent to negotiate peace for Clusium. The Romans were notoriously aggressive, and so it is only a little surprising that when a scuffle broke out between the Gauls and Clusians, the Fabii joined in and actually killed a Senone chieftain.

The Roman people voted to decide the fate of those who broke the sacred conduct of ambassadors, but the Fabii were so popular that they were instead voted to some of the highest positions in Rome. This absolutely infuriated Brennus and his people and they abandoned everything and headed straight for Rome.

Rome was woefully unprepared for this sudden attack. The Gauls had marched with purpose, declaring to all the towns they passed that they would not harm them, they were heading straight for Rome. The numbers are heavily disputed for this battle with figures ranging from 9,000 to 40,0000 for either side. It seems likely that each side had about 12-15,000 men, but the Gauls had hardened veterans and the Romans mostly raw recruits. The Romans had also earlier exiled a celebrated commander Camillus on corruption charges.

Brennus was an imposing leader and fairly skilled tactician.

The battle for the defense of Rome was fought near the Tiber and Allia rivers. The Gauls seemed to have a slight numbers advantage and the Romans, under command of one or a group of Tribunes, decided to put a reserve force on a nearby hill. The hope was to counter-flank the Gauls if the broke through the Roman center or enveloped the wings. Brennus saw through this and decided to send a force straight at the Roman hilltop reserves.

The surprised Romans soon fled. The rest of the battle was an utter disaster for the Romans, likely fearing this new and significantly larger enemy. Many Romans scattered to the recently conquered Veii and many others went to Rome. Many drowned trying to cross the river while still wearing armor.

The Gauls were astonished by how easy their victory was. Rome only had control of a few dozen miles around their city but had built up a powerful reputation throughout Italy. It took only a day for the Gauls to reach Rome, and again they were surprised by how lightly defended it seemed to be.

The light defense was due to the sheer panic following the battle, only a small portion of the survivors were able to make it back to Rome. People fled to nearby cities or the country, many of the priests and priestesses took their religious artifacts out of the city. Those who stayed mostly fortified the steep Capitoline Hill, though some of the nobles and elderly decided to defend their homes.

When the Gauls stormed the walls they killed these lingering men and rampaged through the city. They soon realized that the bulk of the remaining inhabitants were entrenched in the tall Capitoline hill and promptly attacked, full of confidence from their earlier victories. For the first time, the Romans effectively fought back, easily holding the high ground.

The assault a disaster, Brennus decided to simply lay siege to the hill and sent his men out to forage supplies. Here they came to blows with the exiled Camillus, who organized a resistance from a nearby town. Back in Veii the disgraced Roman survivors fought back against some Etruscan Raiders hoping to take advantage of the defeat. The Romans in Veii marshaled under the command of Quintus Caedicius, a respected Centurion.

Caedicius saw that hope rested with Camillus commanding the counter attack.

It is from here on that some truly unbelievable, almost humorous events ensued. To get permission for the exiled Camillus to lead, Caedicius had to get approval from the senate on the besieged Capitoline. A messenger snuck through the Gallic camp and scaled the unguarded cliff side of the hill to deliver the message. It was quickly decided to restore Camillus to his command and to give him dictatorial powers and then the messenger snuck his way out again.

Though official word was received the attempt greatly risked the lives of all who resided on the Capitoline for the Senone scouts discovered the messenger’s footprints and figured out that there was a way to scale the cliffs. They choose a night with a full moon and sent their bravest warriors up the cliff. The ascent was so skillful that neither the Roman sentries nor their dogs noticed anything, but the Geese did.

Juno’s sacred geese were well cared for, especially after they saved the Romans.

The Geese were actually a sacred animal of Juno, kept and fed on the Capitoline despite the dwindling food. they began quacking and honking relentlessly and some of the sleeping Romans were awakened. The first to respond was a man named Manlius. Manlius did not hesitate for a second and charged the few Gauls cresting the top of the cliff. He killed one and pushed another off the cliff with his shield.

Soon other Romans joined the fight and killed the remaining Gauls as they came up. Other Gauls still clinging to the rocks had little hope of survival as the Romans threw javelins and rocks at them until they fell to their death.

After this battle the Gauls themselves suffered some disease and food shortages, as they laid siege to the Romans. With both sides in a difficult position, negotiations were made to pay the Gauls to leave. As the humiliated Romans loaded gold onto the scales they noticed that the Gauls were rigging the weights to make the Romans pay more than agreed.

Brennus calmly threw his sword on with the Gallic weights and said the famous words “Vae victis” meaning “woe to the vanquished/conquered”, words that the Romans would take to heart. Successive generations would fight with great ferocity in order to never hear those words again.

Brennus tossing his sword on the scale.

The sources are unclear, but it seems that before the transaction of gold was actually complete the Dictator Camillus appeared on the scene. As dictator, he declared the gold deal void and demanded that the Gauls leave immediately. Camillus told the Romans that they would win back their city through steel, not by gold.

The Gauls were furious by the retraction of the gold that they were so close to acquiring and marched out to attack Camillus’ newly formed army comprised of the survivors of the earlier battle at Allia and many new volunteers. The Romans under the skilled command of Camillus won an easy victory and attacked the retreating Gauls and completely sacked their camp and killed almost every Gaul.

The sources for this story are often not in agreement were written generations after the events. The Geese are a common theme and their saving of the Capitoline is just crazy enough to be plausible. Camillus’ timely intervention and complete defeat of Brennus’ army may have been added to make for a less humiliating story, though other humiliating aspects are left in the accounts.

The ambassadors flagrantly disregarding the peaceful role and killing Gauls is certainly embarrassing, despite how the men themselves were viewed by their fellow Romans.

The initial Roman defeat is never put in any sort of good light, it was a humiliating loss and represented that way. So the story could have occurred as written above through primarily Livy as a source. Other sources have the Gauls leaving with the gold and being defeated at a later date, but what we do know is that Rome was very nearly completely captured by a foreign foe, and miraculously saved by some spooked geese.

What methods can be used to control the geese populations?

Geese control methods are broken into five main categories: Harassment, exclusion, repellents, environmental alterations and lethal management.

Residents, businesses, park districts and local government officials can use a combination of these tactics — including coyote decoys, fireworks, propane cannons, dogs, fences and chemical sprays — without having to get permits from the Illinois Department of Natural Resources or the USDA. More advanced control methods, including egg destruction, hunting and “charity harvests,” a method which involves rounding up live geese to be slaughtered, do require permits.

Chicago Park District spokesperson Michele Lemons said the department uses a technique called egg oiling to manage Canada geese populations along the lakefront parks. Essentially this involves destroying the eggs before they can hatch. This kind of program helps control population growth “by stabilizing the flock size,” she said.

“Egg oiling can also eliminate the cause of aggression towards humans in many geese as they try to protect their nest. Long term egg oiling results in decreased population levels as the breeding population declines due to attrition,” she wrote in an email to WBEZ. “Reports indicate that if 95 percent of the Canada goose eggs are prevented from hatching in an area, the population level may fall to 75 percent of its original size within 10 years.”

The Chicago Park District also plans and builds natural methods to manage geese in parks such as planting tall grass which breaks the line of sight for geese, increasing their fear of predators.

The Hidden Lives of Ducks and Geese

Ducks are outgoing, social animals who feel most at ease when they’re in large groups, which are called “paddlings” when on water. They spend their days looking for food in the grass or in shallow water, and they sleep with their paddling-mates at night. They’re meticulously clean animals who keep their nests free of waste and debris, and they enjoy preening their feathers and flaunting their beautiful plumage for potential mates. In nature, they live for up to 10 years.

Skilled swimmers and fliers, they can travel hundreds of miles each year during their migrations. Like geese, they fly in formation for protection and to reduce air resistance, and they can travel at speeds of up to 60 miles per hour!

Ducks use vocalizations and body language to communicate. Researchers at Middlesex University London in Britain reported that ducks even have regional accents, just like humans do. The scientists found that city ducks have more of a “shouting” quack so that other birds can hear them above the hustle and bustle, while country ducks have softer voices.

Geese: A Lesson in Family Values

Geese are very loyal. They mate for life and are protective of their partners and offspring. They’ll often refuse to leave the side of a sick or injured mate or chick, even if winter is approaching and the other geese in the group are flying south. When a goose’s mate dies, that bird will mourn in seclusion—and some geese spend the rest of their lives as widows or widowers, refusing to mate again. This enduring bond was evident in a series of photos that went viral, in which a male goose in China was seen giving his mate a “kiss” goodbye as she was being loaded onto a motorcycle to be taken to slaughter. Read more inspiring stories and learn more fascinating facts about animals like geese in the bestselling book Animalkind.

Geese enjoy preening their feathers, foraging for food in the grass, and collecting twigs, bark, and leaves to make “home improvements” to their nests. They lay eggs once a year in the spring, and females incubate them for 30 days while their mates guard their well-concealed homes. Some birds like to use the same nest each year if possible.

A Lesson in Teamwork

Multiple families of geese come together to form a larger group called a gaggle, in which birds look out for each other. There are usually one or two “sentries” who keep watch for predators while the others feed. The gaggle members rotate sentry duty, like sailors standing watch on a ship. Observers have noted that healthy geese sometimes look after injured comrades and that injured birds will stick together to protect each other from predators and to help each other find food.

Geese are adept fliers who may travel thousands of miles during their yearly migrations. Flocks fly in a characteristic “V” formation so that the geese in front reduce the air resistance for those behind them, which helps the birds fly about 70 percent farther as a group than they could on their own. They rotate from the front to the back when they get tired, and those in the rear honk their encouragement to the leaders. Geese have long memories, and they use familiar landmarks and the stars to navigate during their annual journeys.

Ducks and geese can feel pain and emotions just like our dogs and cats, and just like humans. They deserve the same freedom from cruelty that the animals we love in our homes deserve. The best way to protect ducks and geese is to not buy down , foie gras , or duck or goose meat.

Canada Geese Habitat and Behavior

If you hear honking and look up, it's likely you will see a skein of Canada geese flying in a "v-formation" pattern also called a wedge.

Did you know that if they have favorable wind conditions, a skein of geese can fly 1500 miles in a 24 hour period? Wow. By the way, a skein is just another word for a group of geese in flight . A gaggle is when they are on the ground.

There are two reasons why Canada geese fly in a wedge.

The first is that is conserves their energy because each bird is flying slightly above the bird in front of them resulting in wind resistance. The birds take turns flying in front and when they tire they fall back in line, that is why they can fly for a long time before they need rest.

The second reason is that they can keep track of every bird in the gaggle.

In mild climates like California, some of the goose population is non-migratory - here in Wisconsin, they head south for the winter and I don't blame them.

All Canada geese will return to the general area or the exact site of their birth every year, because the instinct to do so is so strong. Migration is not instinct at all but is taught and something the goose will learn.

Canada geese eat a variety of grasses and grains like corn, soybeans and wheat. Occasionally they may eat insects and fish and when in water will eat the silt and seaweed from the bottom of the lake.

During the second year of their life, Canada geese are ready to find a mate. Once they find their mate around the age of 2 or 3, they are like eagles and remain "couples" for the rest of their life. If one is killed, the other will look for another mate. Each pair will also establish nesting territories and will defend it vigorously.

From mid-March to mid-May the female, starting around the age of 3, will lay an average of 5 eggs taking five days to lay her clutch (one egg a day). When she is done, she then lays on her clutch during the incubation period of 28 days. The hatched goslings are only in the nest for 1 day and may be brooded (snuggled under the mother's wings) at night.

The Canada goose will now begin to molt (from early June through July), which is a time when they lose their flight feathers and regrow new ones. This usually takes approximately six weeks and during that time they cannot fly. That's why you find them flocked and nesting near the water because it provides security from predators.

The Canada goose offspring will enter the fledgling stage anytime from 6-9 weeks of age and will stay with the adult until after spring migration the following year.

In the fledgling stage, they can walk, feed and swim on their own but will stay and move around in a gaggle which is an excellent defense strategy against predators. The goslings learn how to fly when they are 2-3 months old.

The photograph on the left shows you Canada goose foot tracks if you have never seen them before. If you are itching to go goose hunting, I want to give you some pointers to guarantee a successful hunt.

Most Canada geese hunters prefer to decoy the goose in to get a closer shot, but I am not going to go into detail on the decoys you should purchase because everyone has a different opinion on what to use. They can range anywhere from $80.00 for a dozen to $400 apiece depending on how realistic you want them to look and what you purchase.

The purpose of decoys is to reduce the movement of the hunter. If you are hunting alone, you definitely want to be in the center of the staged decoys with placement around and behind you.

Many of the Canada geese decoys used around here are also floaters and positioned near or on the water which is usually the your best option. The decoys placed on the waters edge should also be in a "resting" position to simulate different positions and ways the geese actually live.

The picture above are Canada geese decoys placed on a pond. You may want to purchase a couple of sentinel goose decoys, which is a goose in "alert mode." (While the other geese are feeding or swimming, you will always see one keeping an eye out for danger. This is a sentinel goose)

You would place these sentinel geese on the outer part of the grouping approximately 20 yards from the gaggle because they are the "watch dogs" and are on "look-out." Whatever you choose to use, they are an important part of goose hunting.

How do you set up your Canada goose decoys? That is a personal choice, but I will give you some ideas.

You must pay attention to the wind direction because geese like to land into the wind, which slows their landing. So with that in mind, you may want to position your decoy spreads in groups of four to eight - facing the wind. How many decoys do you need? Geese are more comfortable and feel safer in large groups.

To fool geese, you may conceal yourself in a "hide," which is a spring activated blind or a actual ditch blind. You can also cover yourself with a burlap sack in tall grass, but you must practice to be able to uncover yourself and rise to shoot quickly before the goose spots you.

The most successful is the pit blind and that is a box buried below the ground surface and open on top. Some of them are heated and you can even enjoy a cup of coffee while waiting for some Canada geese to come in. Nice.

If you are hunting in an area that the birds want to be, you really do not need to call in geese because they will be there. If not, purchasing a top of the line goose call is worth every dollar that you spend. The first one that comes to mind is a short reed goose call. Practice, practice and practice.

There are two calls that are a must and that is a cluck and a honk.

A cluck is make when you blow in a short burst of air and say the word "whit" into the call. The honk is along the same line but you lengthen the call from a high note to a low note while making the sound "whooooo-whit" into the call.

Do you sound like a goose? Great. If not, please invest in instructional videos or DVDs and learn the right way. Remember this: "Less is more" when it comes to goose calling.

The last thing that is works great is "flagging in geese", and it works when they are up to one mile away from you. This is when you wave a black flag in a side-to-side motion to imitate landing geese. When they are coming towards you, get your gun and be ready. You can try to make the black flag at home, or they can be purchased at any waterfowl supply outlet store.

A great strategy is setting up five to six decoys approximately 100-150 yards from your main spread and have someone in the middle of these decoys. You hide out with the main grouping and call in the geese. Nine times out of ten when the geese approach they prefer to land in the small group - and you'll be ready. Now go out and get that goose.

More Information About Homestead Geese

I've found The Small-Scale Poultry Flock by Harvey Ussery a great resource for geese and all backyard flock questions. Other good resources include:

I will warn you that geese are QUITE loud, varying by breed, and messy. If those things bother you, it's possible geese aren't for you. But if all else fails, you've just raised up a Christmas goose for roasting, right?

This is a guest post by Erin Kelly of Blue Yurt Farms. Erin and her husband, Mike, live on 22 rolling acres in rural Southwest Virginia. A rag tag mix of farm animals keeps them company, from oinking pigs to honking geese. They’re slowly using sustainable methods and animal power to rehabilitate their land…one acre at a time.

Don't miss the rest of the posts in our Homesteading series, including:

Watch the video: Ταΐζοντας χήνες- feeding geese