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Task force tackles Oregon goose problem

SALEM – A new task force is looking for ways to control Oregon’s wild goose problem, which officials say costs millions of dollars a year and is among the worst in the nation.

The panel was created by state Sen. Betsy Johnson, D-Scappoose, who wants to draft a bill for the 2011 legislative session to provide wildlife managers with some additional tools to deal with the more than 250,000 geese that migrate to Oregon each winter. The birds damage crops by crushing them, feeding on them and defecating on them.

The task force met this week to launch its efforts. Bob Trout of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service said at the meeting that Oregon’s goose management issues were the most complicated in North America, while Dave Williams, director of USDA Wildlife Services in Oregon, said the problem was “significantly more challenging than in any other state in the United States.”

The panel also is looking at improving goose control at airports, where the waterfowl create a safety concern.

Among issues inhibiting goose control in Oregon are limited hunting options. Geese are protected under state, federal and international law.

Hunting geese lowers numbers and can be used to move geese off sensitive lands.

Wildlife managers also haze geese, destroy eggs of resident geese and try to move geese to federal wildlife preserves in efforts to minimize crop damage.

“All options are on the table,” Johnson said. “I hope we can come out with real solutions.”


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