|New Jersey Division of Fish and Wildlife|
May 20, 2002
According to the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection's Division of Fish and Wildlife, the United States Fish and Wildlife Service (Service) will host a public meeting addressing management of the State's expanding resident Canada goose population on Wednesday, May 22. The meeting is scheduled for 7 p.m. at the Ramada Inn, 999 U.S. Rt. 1 South in North Brunswick, Middlesex County. The Service will provide an overview of a recently completed Draft Environmental Impact Statement (DEIS) that evaluates various management alternatives and the public will have the opportunity to make comments at the meeting.
"Concerned New Jerseyans are encouraged to attend this very important meeting so that a cooperative solution, one that is acceptable to all involved, can be achieved," said DEP Commissioner Bradley E. Campbell.
The Service's DEIS document evaluates alternative strategies to reduce, manage, and control resident Canada goose populations in the continental United States and addresses ways to reduce related damages. Seven management alternatives were analyzed with regard to their potential impacts on resident Canada geese, other wildlife species, natural resources, special status species, socio-economics, historical resources, and cultural resources.
The Service's preferred proposal in the DEIS (Alternative F) would establish a regulation authorizing State wildlife agencies to conduct or allow indirect and/or direct population control activities, including hunting, on resident Canada goose populations.
"Although resident Canada geese are a valuable natural resource, the Division agrees with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service's position that the multitude of problems caused by overabundant resident Canada geese must be addressed," said Division Director Bob McDowell. "However, given the nearly nationwide problem of overabundant resident geese, we believe that a national comprehensive solution is warranted whereby the federal government or U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, not the states, serves in the lead role. As such, we disagree with the Service that state empowerment should be the preferred alternative."
McDowell continued, "Based on the language in Alternative F, the Division would likely need to issue State permits to document all taking of geese. This alternative does not relieve the affected landowner of a burdensome permit process where they need to apply for a permit, keep records and report on their activities. Rather, this alternative transfers the $1.05 million cost of administering the federal permit program to the states, without compensation, for managing this federal species. The Division believes the entire taxing permit procedure, designed to protect against excessive take of a species, is unnecessary for resident Canada geese at this time. The resident goose population is twice the New Jersey and Atlantic Flyway population goals, indicating the need for population reduction, not protection. In New Jersey, appropriate surveys and monitoring programs are in place to ensure that the population will not be reduced below desired population levels. We strongly believe that the authority to act on problems associated with resident geese should be conveyed directly to the affected landowner through a federal, General Depredation Order."
The Division supports implementation of Alternative G, the General Depredation Order, with several administrative amendments and clarifications. Alternative G would establish a depredation order, allowing authorized individuals to conduct management activities on resident Canada goose populations either posing a threat to health and human safety, or causing damage to personal or public property. Authorized management activities could include indirect and/or direct population control strategies such as aggressive harassment, nest and egg destruction, gosling and adult trapping and culling programs, or other general population reduction strategies. The depredation order would be for resident Canada goose populations only and, as such, in order to ensure protection of migrant Canada goose populations, could only be implemented between April 1 and August 31, except for the take of nests and eggs which would be additionally allowed in March. The Division believes that Alternative G, in principle, provides the most flexibility to agencies and property owners to reduce resident Canada goose populations in areas where significant conflicts are occurring. Alternative G frames the issue on a nationwide scale and transfers authority for action directly to the affected agency or individual. In addition, Alternative G still provides for "state empowerment" since states can be more restrictive if they so desire.
Although Alternative G does not offer a Conservation Order for resident geese, other alternatives in the DEIS do. Director McDowell voiced support for implementation of a Conservation Order for resident geese.
"Although the Division agrees with the Service that expanded hunting opportunities are warranted to help reduce resident goose populations, the regulation changes proposed in Alternative G do not go far enough," McDowell said. "Rather, we recommend implementation of a Conservation Order for Canada geese to act in combination with the General Depredation Order under Alternative G."
Specifically, the Division's position is that a Conservation Order for resident geese should allow for the take of Canada geese from August 1 to September 15, with no bag limits, unplugged shotguns, use of electronic calls and expanded shooting hours (i.e., to one-half hour after sunset). In addition, the Division believes that the Service should consider expanding the Conservation Order to the end of September in areas with operational September seasons, on an experimental basis, as long as minimal impacts to migrant Canada goose populations can be demonstrated.
For those who cannot attend the May 22 meeting, written comments concerning the DEIS will be accepted until May 30, 2002 and should be addressed to the Chief, Division of Migratory Bird Management, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Department of the Interior, ms 634 ARLSQ, 1849 C St., NW, Washington, D.C., 20240. Copies of the draft EIS are available at the same address or by calling the Service at 703-358-1714. The document may also be viewed by accessing the link on the Division's website at www.njfishandwildlife.com.