Canada goose depredation
Two things are probably for certain if you’ve had a chance to take a drive around the countryside in Northeast South Dakota the past few months. One being the amount of water around, and the other is the evidence of a very successful Canada goose hatch that occurred this Spring. One major contributor for such a successful hatch is the amount of water we have on the landscape paired with the number of muskrat huts that are in all the wetlands. Nesting success of Canada geese is typically very high when able to nest on muskrat huts due to the safety and security away from nest predators.
If you’re a waterfowl hunter, this is great news; however, sometimes “what’s good for the goose is not always good for the gander.” With a larger population of resident geese, producers are seeing an increased amount of depredation in their agriculture fields that are adjacent to bodies of water with no vegetative buffer.
The South Dakota Game, Fish & Parks (SDGFP) has a variety of tools in the toolbox that we can implement to attempt to reduce or eliminate goose depredation on ag fields. One of our most effective tools is an electric fence that we construct as a barrier between the geese and the growing crop along the water or field edge. The temporary fence is electric and is charged by a solar fencer. These work well in the summer months while the geese are going through a molt and cannot fly. In addition to fences, we also have hazing or scaring devices including propane cannons and screamer pistols that we can use. The propane cannons have a timer that can be set so that they go off every 30 to 45 minutes or so. Occasionally, things like coyote decoys and bags can be placed to temporarily to scare them from a damaged area. The hazing equipment is typically used when geese are able to still fly, and the fences are not as effective.
Another effective tool that the we can offer to producers is the use of a temporary permit that allows the landowner themselves and up to two assigned designees to remove a few while making an attempt to haze them off to another area. This permit is only allowed on land that they own or operate where they are experiencing damage. It is valid from April 1 through August 15 and allows the landowner to remove up to 10 geese. Many producers have found this permit to be an effective tool while they are out keeping an eye on crops throughout the early growing stages.
If you have any questions about Canada goose depredation, please call your local Wildlife Damage Specialist or Game Fish and Parks office. You can also visit us on the web at https://gfp.sd.gov/landowner-programs/.