Weather Forecast


The Canada goose -- a problem not just in Minnesota

The Canada goose is a large bird. Up to 14 pounds, and always considered a trophy, because of his wariness and distrust of decoys.

The Canada goose exists in numbers that are way out of control. Always a threat to become ensnarled in the jet engines of commercial airlines, we recall the recent encounter with a flock of them striking out both engines of U.S. Airways flight 1549 out of LaGuardia, which ended up in the Hudson River. There have been 82,000 such collisions from 1980 to 2007 that do not make such big news.

Canada geese have found a home in America. They like nicely mowed yards and golf courses. They avoid high grass that may conceal predators. That's nice for bird lovers, but bad for planes. The geese are prolific poopers, soiling decks and sidewalks, and golf fairways. The birds have been blamed for contaminations that have led to beach closings. Three places where they're particularly bad are Minneapolis, Las Vegas and New York City.

New York's Mayor Bloomberg says they've got to go, and he's given orders that plans be made and carried out. Minnesota's Ramsey County parks, Hikers Island near Manhattan, and the airport at Vegas have too many, and plans are being formulated that will remove thousands of the giant birds. But there are an estimated 3.2 million, including many at the south end of the airport runways in Detroit Lakes. They like the grass that gets irrigation, and can be a hazard to arriving jets and other private planes that come in here for fishing, commerce, or just enjoyable private flying.

Canada, Britain, and other countries have been trying to control Canada goose numbers for years.

How do you get controls started? Well, for one thing, you educate people to stop feeding them. They can be scared away by noisemakers but they soon learn of the timing of such devices and will ignore them.

Oiling the eggs found in nests, with vegetable oils make them infertile, and discourage geese from laying more eggs. Relocating captured geese hasn't worked. They return!

Animal lovers are, of course, livid over the announced methods of control being contemplated.

"Are we going to eliminate every goose in the sky," asks Edita Birnkrandt, New York director of Friends Of Animals. Of course not. But there are some 25,000 resident Canada geese in New York City. Far too many.

Killing the geese that get in our way may seem to be somewhat unfair, as we've created the environment that they now like and are thriving in.

Perhaps captured live birds could be taken to a commercial poultry processing plant, readying them for roasting at places that feed homeless people every day. What a source of free protein that would provide.

Even more relaxed hunting provisions could be a method of giving waterfowl hunters long and liberal seasons.

Canada goose numbers continue to soar. Cities everywhere are taking steps to get populations under control. It isn't pretty, but we've got to whack them off, sometimes by measures that aren't fair or sporting.

Continental waterfowl numbers are up

The numbers of ducks on the North American Continent are up significantly from a year ago. There's been a 13 percent increase, and that's up from the long-term average. It is especially true in the prairie pothole region, which is the Minnesota and North Dakota areas. Duck counts are down in Minnesota, however.

North Dakota is plumb full of ducks. Especially in the west central and the northwest. Things got very wet there.

Blue winged teal numbers are down, and they are an important duck in the Detroit Lakes area, especially in early season. Another species that the hunters of our area depend, the ring-necked duck, are also down. But somehow we usually get a fair number of these smaller divers filtering through our area, so lets not count them out.

Breeding areas that attract mallards have improved in Minnesota in recent years, and Minnesota usually takes a fair share of this most popular of all ducks. Minnesota duck hunting wasn't great last year, probably won't be much different this year. North Dakota has been the popular choice of Minnesota's waterfowl enthusiasts. Yet nothing can beat the duck and goose hunting of Saskatchewan. I've had more than a dozen seasons there.

A new Remington over-under

The 2009 Remington catalog of guns, ammunition and accessories is a thick, colorful, impressive book. I paged through it several times, looking for a line up of over-under shotguns. A new semi automatic was featured, all of the 1100 and 870 models. But no over-unders!

In the trap and skeet magazines, there is an announcement of a new venture Remington has launched with Italian arms maker Sabatti of the Gordone Val Trompia, the firearms manufacturing district in Italy's Alps.

I haven't seen the gun, but photos and description of it are very impressive. After several tries at importing an over-under bearing the Remington name, perhaps his time they have a winner. They've named it the Premier STS after their popular shotgun shells. STS, of course means skeet-trap-sporting, and the newcomer will be adapted to all three. New style "Pro Bore" screw in chokes, quite long, overbored barrels, long forcing cone, all of the good stuff shooters want today. The price is set at $2,540, which is more than a Winchester Model 101 or Browning's popular Citori series. Will it sell? It should, but America's competitive shooters and hunters will decide that.

Remembering Lennis L. Geer -- Gunsmith

I don't know where my mind was, when I wrote my recent piece on the local gunsmiths. I made the glaring error of not including Lennis Geer. He was indeed, a gunsmith. One of the best, working in his cluttered shop in his basement. Lennis would study a mechanism; sketch it out on the back of a letter. He could make a broken part out of metal, using stock of different temper and thickness. It is almost inexcusable that I omitted him! Lennis Geer was a master at smoothing out or lightening the pull of a trigger, something that few gunsmiths are adept at. I really missed out by not remembering Lennis Larry Geer, Gunsmith.