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Flightless geese temporarily inhabit area lakes and ponds

Dozens of Canadian geese are currently inhabiting Lake Varner in Newton County. The geese are temporarily flightless, as they undergoing a molting process which causes them to lose their flight feathers. They will be able to fly again in about two to four weeks. (Staff photo: Ryan McKenzie)

Dozens of Canadian geese are currently inhabiting Lake Varner in Newton County. The geese are temporarily flightless, as they undergoing a molting process which causes them to lose their flight feathers. They will be able to fly again in about two to four weeks. (Staff photo: Ryan McKenzie)

COVINGTON — Some area lakes and ponds may currently be seeing a surplus in some feathery friends, and they’re here to stay for some time as part of an annual change in their anatomy.

Canadian geese, which inhabit numerous bodies of water throughout Rockdale and Newton counties, are undergoing a molting process in which they lose their flight feathers, but they should grow back within a few weeks.

“Each summer, geese go through a molting process during which they lose their flight feathers and grow new ones,” said Greg Balkcom, a waterfowl biologist with the state Department of Natural Resources’ Wildlife Resources Division, said in a released statement. “During the molt, there is a period of a few weeks in late June and early July when geese can’t fly. It is typically during this time that landowners and homeowners often get irritated with the amount of goose feces and feathers left behind.”

Although the influx of geese may cause some irritation among local residents who live near bodies of water, the WRD has asked people to be patient with the birds, especially around this time of year. DNR Wildlife Biologist Charlie Killmaster said that this is also usually the time of year that Canadian geese reproduce, with chicks hatching from their eggs and learning basic life skills, and the adult geese will not abandon their young.

Killmaster added that the birds’ feathers will grow back in a two- to four-week time span, and they will more than likely migrate at that point. Attempting to get the geese to completely vacate an area would be futile, as they like to remain near lakes and ponds.

“People that have a pond or lake on their property will often have problems with geese — we get a lot of complaints,” he said. “They can be a mess.”

Canadian geese are a protected species under both state and federal laws. It is illegal to hunt, kill, sell, purchase or possess Canadian geese, except according to Georgia’s migratory bird regulations. However, the DNR has recommended some harassment and relocation techniques for landowners.

Chemical repellents, mylar balloons, wire or string barriers and noise makers are approved methods that have been proven to reduce goose problems. However, these tactics require constant upkeep from the landowner and may not be 100 percent effective.

Landowners who want to lessen, or completely eliminate, Canadian geese populations from their property can do so by obtaining a permit form their local WRD Game Management office. This permit allows landers owners to legally remove the animals from their property and relocate them to a suitable area. This can be done by the landowner or by a licensed nuisance wildlife trapper.

For more information, visit the U. S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s website at www.fws.gov/permits. To obtain a brochure on a variety of methods on dealing with nuisance geese, visit www.georgiawildlife.com.