Darrell Hansen of Humboldt Creamery gives an assist to one of the creameries newest employees (Photo by Carrie Branovan)

Darrell Hansen of Humboldt Creamery gives an assist to one of the creamery's newest employees (© 2006-2007 Carrie Branovan)

 

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Living with Aleutian Geese in Humboldt

To learn more about the Aleutian geese problem, read our downloadable PDF pamphlet "Living with Aleutian Geese on the Pacific North Coast"

After 30 years of remedial actions by Federal and State wildlife agencies, the once endangered Aleutian Goose population is thriving on the Pacific North Coast. From a low of about 800 geese in 1975, today 100,000 of the geese stop in Humboldt and Del Norte counties to prepare for their incredible transoceanic migration on to nesting grounds in the Aleutian Islands, Alaska. However, since these vegetarian geese are incredible grazers that seek out the greenest of pastures, a major conflict has emerged on the North Coast.

During their northward migration, the geese pause between January and April and eat tender spring plant growth that the dairy and beef cattle producers rely on to feed their stock. Some landowners have lost up to fifty percent of their annual grass production to Aleutian geese during this period.

As a result, ranchers that accommodate the geese have to reduce herd size or provide supplemental feed. Families who operate one of our regions prized economic industries are loosing substantial income.

The Aleutian Goose Working Group has been formed to help reduce the impact from the Geese on landowners. This group is comprised of concerned citizens’ from Northern California and Southern Oregon. Some of the members include local Farm Bureau members: Blake Alexander from Crescent City, Jay Russ and Hugo Klopper from Ferndale, Dean Hunt and Peter Bussman from Arcata as well as State and Federal Agency personnel. The group has identified goals to encourage the enhancement of Aleutian Goose habitat on Public Lands, implement well placed hazing and hunting programs that will shift geese into goose-safe areas, continue outreach to inform the community about the scope of goose-agricultural issues and initiatives. A key goal is to assist the Pacific Flyway Council in its objective to maintain the population of Aleutian Geese at 60,000 birds measured by a 3 year average of indirect estimates obtained in the spring.

At the present time, the Humboldt County Farm Bureau along with the State Farm Bureau and local elected officials, are lobbying the California Fish and Game Commission. It is our request that the Fish & Game Commission petition the Pacific Flyway Council to allow for an extend spring hunting season for the Aleutian Geese in 2007 on the north coast.

This extended season would benefit landowners by allowing sportsmen to haze the geese off their property and fly to Public Lands. Many local ranchers who are affected by the Aleutian Geese have signed-up to participate in the SHARE program with California Department of Fish & Game. This program will provide the necessary land base from private landowners for the hunt due to the fact that the Public Lands will not allow hunting to give the geese a “Safe” place to land.

The Aleutian Goose Working Group will continue to meet monthly to address the issues and is working to find relief for landowners who are experiencing the
loss of grazing land due to the overpopulation of geese.