July 10-- Geese have become something of a fixture at Southeastern Technical College, making a home on the Vidalia campus’s pond, but every year the geese’s numbers grow from fixture to nuisance, and the birds get taken on their own summer vacation from school.
This year, STC’s Fish and Wildlife Management (FWM) program aided the Georgia Department of Natural Resources (DNR) and US Department of Agriculture Wildlife Division (USDA) in removing 168 Canada Geese from the Vidalia campus pond on June 25.
“FWM students frequently participate in DNR projects,” said Jill Lehman, FWM program head. “Six FWM students participated in this goose relocation project.”
With people stationed around the pond, the team herded the geese together in the water and a small boat pushed the group towards the corral set up behind the college’s main building. Once the geese hit land, it was a mad dash as the students, their instructor and DNR and USDA workers all spread their arms and closed on the geese, funneling the land-bound birds into the corral.
“After nesting, geese undergo an annual molt: a four-to-five week flightless period when they shed and re-grow their outer wing feathers,” said Lehman. “Since the geese are flightless, agencies can corral the geese.”
Once contained, the geese were carefully sexed and banded, to aid in the tracking and maintenance of the state’s Canada Goose population. The entire process took nearly four hours, and once it was done, the geese were shipped off to northwest Georgia.
After restocking the goose population in the 70s and 80s, the DNR has had to carefully monitor the birds, as they took to the environment so well that overpopulation became a problem in some areas. A harvest season was established to help control the population, which is currently estimated at around 45,000 across the state.