NCPA - National Center for Policy Analysis

Non-Migratory Geese Problem Causes Critics to Cry Foul

July 16, 2003

Animal-rights activists are outraged that the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service plans to delegate authority to the states to issue permits to kill "nonmigrating Canada geese" and their eggs.

The nonmigratory geese population has exploded along the East Coast and the cost of controlling them is significant for many towns and companies:

  • The total U.S. nonmigrating geese population is estimated at 3.5 to five million.
  • Along the East Coast, the geese have been multiplying by 14 percent per year since 1989.
  • New York City has budgeted $4.5 million over the next three years to keep the geese from polluting drinking water in the city's reservoirs.

The Humane Society protests that Canada geese are protected under the Migratory Bird Treaty Act of 1916 and that allowing them to be killed "violates both the language and the spirit" of that treaty. The Fish and Wildlife Service counters that the geese don't migrate at all -- they stay put year-round and act as a nuisance and public health hazard.

Despite the objections of animal rights groups, it appears that the Fish and Wildlife Service will in fact do away with the federal permitting system, allowing local groups to liberalize hunting laws and perform geese roundups; the plan's goal is to reduce nonmigratory geese populations by more than a million birds over the next several years.

Source: James P. Sterba, "New Goose Recipe: U.S. Plans to East the Way for Culling," Wall Street Journal, June 2003.

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