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Gazette Editorial: OPA too hospitable for Canada geese to resist

The Ocean Pines goose flap that has taken flight since association authorities had the resident flock of 290 Canada geese removed and, presumably, destroyed, reflects the national debate over how to respond to the surge in nonmigratory waterfowl in populated areas.

In the past 20 years, according to a University of Nebraska study, the number of Canada geese in the United States has increased eight-fold, with resident flocks in urban and suburban areas growing much more rapidly than migrant populations.

So great is the surge in residential geese that even Audubon International and the Cornell Lab of Ornithology acknowledge that they must be controlled.

Here’s what Cornell says: “The Cornell Lab of Ornithology’s focus is to conserve and maintain healthy populations of native wild birds. Where warranted because of health or environmental concerns, we support humane efforts to reduce the overpopulation of resident Canada Geese.

“Because this problem is so widespread, often the only effective option is to use humane lethal methods such as suppressing reproduction or removing individuals.”

This doesn’t mean Cornell or anyone else likes “removing” resident geese, but considering that one Canada goose can drop somewhere around 100 pounds of waste a year in a relatively small area — that’s 14 tons for 290 birds, or roughly the equivalent of what 480 chickens would produce — something had to be done.

The irony, considering the uproar over this action by the OPA, is that the experts say it’s not going to work long-term. Others, according to Audubon, eventually will take their place unless additional steps are taken to make the affected area less hospitable for geese that might be looking for a permanent home.