Fewer Canada Geese In Missouri This Year

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COLUMBIA - Some people complain geese are just a nuisance, chopping grass to the roots and dropping waste in its place. But the Missouri Department of Conservation insists Canada geese are an important part of the state wildlife and hunting culture. And because of this, the department tracks and counts the geese every year. 

"It's a manage game species," said Vic Bogosian of the Missouri Department of Conservation. "So it's information that helps us manage their population. It helps us make important decisions about harvest numbers and it's our responsibility to manage the different wildlife of the state."

Wednesday, a group of professionals and volunteers visited three locations in Columbia -- Bethel Park, the Columbia power plant and the Vandiver mobile home park to round up local geese. Over two days, the crew caught, tagged, documented and then released nearly 300 Canada geese as part of the statewide round up the department does every June.

The round ups showed this year's Canada geese population is slightly smaller than usual. According to the department, Missouri's geesse population is much smaller than in other states and is still declining. Last year Missouri's geese estimate was 53,000 breeding Canada geese, one-seventh the size of Minnesota's 370,000 population.

Preston Stogsdill of the Missouri Department of Conservation said he was hoping to see the geese population grow this year because of the unusually warm winter, but instead he saw the opposite.

"Overall I think we saw maybe slightly fewer geese than last year," Bogosian said. "We did have a warm winter but then a really dry May and into the first part of June. So that probably caused some shifting around of the geese we had in the area." 

Information the department collected during these round ups is also used by federal wildlife managers to track the animals. Bogosian and Stogsdill say the smaller number of geese should not affect the hunting season, however.  They say the primary challenge is making sure they know how many geese are in the state so there are ample hunting opportunities and the goose population remains protected as a state resource.