Canada geese are an important part of Pennsylvania’s
rich natural heritage and their presence provides many
citizens with recreational opportunities, including wildlife viewing and hunting. During the past 50 years, populations of non-migratory or “resident” geese have grown tremendously in urban and suburban environments in Pennsylvania and in many other areas across the United States. The phenomenon of resident geese started when the practice of hunting with live decoys was outlawed in the 1930s; subsequently hunters liberated their decoy flocks, releasing thousands of semidomesticated birds into the wild. Also, populations were boosted by highly successful government and private stocking and relocation programs which ran from the 1950s through the 1990s. Having been bred in captivity, these birds did not learn the traditional migratory routes nor did their offspring. Escaping the perils of migration has clearly benefited the resident goose, with results such as increased survival and productivity rates. Geese are highly adaptable and have flourished in human-altered landscapes. Urban and suburban habitat typified by large expanses of manicured
lawns and an abundance of water bodies provides an optimal mix of conditions: plentiful natural food sources, hand-outs from people, relative protection from natural predators and harsh climate conditions, and relief from most hunting pressure. Although most people may enjoy sharing their local environment with wildlife, living in close proximity to a rapidly increasing population of geese will test human tolerance and inevitably create human-wildlife conflicts.
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