Thursday, June 30, 2016

Goose Drive at Wilson Hill Wildlife Management Area

Geese - Diane Chase PhotoFor the past 50 years the New York State Department of Environment Conservation (DEC) Region 6 has been gathering a team of volunteers and staff to collect data on the resident Canada Geese population. According to Regional Habitat Manager Christopher J. Balk, the data collected helps manage the flock and provide pertinent information to tailor bag limits during hunting season. This June 30, 8 am – 2 pm, is another opportunity to corral and handle some geese.

“The volunteers get to reach over the top of the enclosure and help hand the goose to a staff member,” says Balk. “We are usually banding at least 400-500 geese at this event and use the information to primarily report on the bird’s location at two points of time.”

These geese are resident, not migratory, Canada Geese so the distance between their wintering and summering habitat is usually only a few hundred miles. Hunters report the band numbers when they harvest the birds in the fall. The data allows Balk and his colleagues to track to see if a flock is intermingling or not, track growth and movements of the resident population and and to establish annual hunting regulations.

Balk encourages volunteers to help out. He even says that elementary-aged students would be able to lend a hand with a parent or guardian. Each volunteer is required to provide his/her own canoe or kayak, paddles and safety gear. People are also needed to monitor the shore for escaped geese and handle the geese.

Wilson Hill Wildlife Management Area (WMA) consists of a series of impoundments for several square miles so the geese are spread all over,” says Balk. “The Canada Geese are flightless at this point so we use that opportunity to drive them into a confined bay and onto land where we can get them into a netted enclosure to check the age and sex as well as band them.”

Each goose receives a leg band with a unique number. Typically, the band is reported by hunters when the bird is harvested during the season. There are also a fair number of the geese that are recaptured each year, but over time their band’s identification has worn off and needs to be replaced.  For anyone interested in helping or watching a Goose Drive, please call 315-705-5539.

Photo of Canada geese used with the permission of Diane Chase, 

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Diane Chase is the author of the Adirondack Family Activities guidebook series, Adirondack Family Time. She writes about ways to foster imaginative play through fun-filled events and activities in the Adirondack region.

From her home in Saranac Lake, Diane also writes a weekly family-oriented newspaper column for the Adirondack Daily Enterprise and keeps her own blog Adirondack Family Time. Her writing and photography has appeared in numerous newspapers, magazines, marketing companies and advertising agencies.

She even finds time to assist her husband with Adirondack Expeditions guiding families and young adults in the High Peaks.

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