Going on a wild goose chase

Five airboats were unloaded at Benson Marina on the Bear River and some 20 Utah Division of Wildlife Resources personnel piled in, wearing waders or waterproof boots for the annual Canadian Geese roundup.

Rich Hansen, DWR goose banding coordinator, directs the boats and the goose crew on what needs to happen to successfully capture, band, record and release the Canadian Geese on the Bear River.

The boats were silent while an airplane buzzed the fields of a nearby farm field to chase the birds into the water north of the Valley View Highway.

The operation was directed by Rich Hansen, DWR goose banding coordinator. He said DWR has been capturing and banding geese since 1965.

When the geese were all bunched up in the river, the boats circled to keep them from escaping. Part of the crew was taken to shore to build a quick coral. Then the birds were pushed to shore and corralled so they could be processed.

“We work on the north side of the river because we can’t get our boats on the other side of Valley View Highway,” he said. “We banded as many as 400 there on Monday.”

The captured geese were checked to determine their health, sex and age, then banded. All of the data were recorded.

Hansen said each band has a contact web site and identification number. If someone finds a goose, they are encouraged to make contact with DWR and report it.

The bands on the leg of the goose are not cramped. It is kept loose enough to keep from scarring the leg.

Hansen has been banding geese since 2004. This will be a scene playing out across Northern Utah’s water bodies as DWR biologists and volunteers work together to capture wild geese.

On Tuesday, there was a crew on the Great Salt Lake near Promontory for the same exercise.

“This is the time to get them during the month of June,” Hansen said. “We typically band 3,500 a year.”

He said they only do a sampling of the goose population.

“The geese are flightless this time of year because they are molting, which makes this wetland rodeo possible,” Hansen said.

The banding work provides important information about the Canada goose populations in Utah. Hansen passes the information in to United States Geological Services (USGS).

DWR’s Wyatt Hansen takes two freshly-banded geese to the corral before turning them loose into the Bear River.

Canada geese can be found throughout Cache Valley and have proven to be extremely successful at living in human-altered areas.

The large game birds have establish breeding colonies in city parks, golf courses and rural areas, which provide food and few natural predators.

Because of the success of this common park species, it is often considered a nuisance species because of their destruction of crops, noise, droppings, and aggressive territorial behavior. They also beg for food.

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