Snow Geese are loud, white-and-black geese that travel in large flocks, eating their way across fallow cornfields or wetlands. Snow Geese have skyrocketed in numbers and are now among the most abundant waterfowl on the continent.
Even with liberal hunting restrictions, the number of geese continues to rise. There were about 800,000 light geese in 1970 and more than 5 million in 1999. Some estimates put the current population of mid-continent snow geese at 15 million or more.
Overabundant Snow Geese Cause Crop Damage
Canada geese, snow geese, ducks, and American coots all have been implicated in agricultural crop and turf damage. Canada geese and snow geese that graze on winter wheat and rye crops can reduce subsequent grain and vegetative yields.
Canada geese also cause serious damage to sprouting soybeans in spring and to standing cornfields in the autumn. The most common damage to agricultural resources associated with geese results from the consumption of crops. Other impacts
involve unacceptable accumulations of feces in pastures, trampling of emerging crops, and increased erosion and runoff from fields where the cover crop has been grazed. Canada geese graze on a variety of crops, including alfalfa, barley, beans,
corn, soybeans, wheat, rye, oats, spinach, and peanuts, sometimes resulting in significant reductions in yields.
"There is no coastal salt marsh left in the Hudson Bay lowlands. There isn't a plant left," says the American Museum of Natural History population ecologist Dr. Robert Rockwell, who has been studying snow geese for nearly five decades and witnessed the extent of the devastation first-hand. "It will be 50 years before it comes back - if it is given the chance to come back."
Snow Geese Removal
Not all states allow for hunting, so the best method for goose control is with legal or licensed goose removal methods such as Auditory Frightening Devices, Pyrotechnics, Exclusion, Goose Control with Dogs, Lasers, Flagging, Coyote Decoys, Repellants. Other methods of goose control require authorization and permits. Hunting is the primary method for managing Canada goose, waterfowl, and coot populations. Hunting can have an area-deterrent effect on these species, but hunters are restricted to established bag limits. Shooting permits outside of regulated hunting seasons may often be obtained by USFWS for migratory, resident, or non-migratory Canada geese, waterfowl, and coots. (Source: https://www.aphis.usda.gov/wildlife_damage/reports/Wildlife%20Damage%20M...)
One of the most common methods to deter geese and waterfowl from fields (namely airfields), is to maintain vegetation height at 7 to 14 inches. Long grass restricts the line of sight for birds, making them vulnerable and nervous about unseen predators.