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January 12th, 2011 MARTY SMITH | Dr. Know
 

Dr. Know: Canada Geese

     
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Hundreds of Canada geese have been making themselves at home in my business park for months. I thought geese were supposed to fly south for the winter! It’s January and these guys show no signs of moving on. Are they just lazy? —Allen P.

You don’t know the half of it: Even now, gangs of surly, delinquent geese in leather jackets are roaming our business parks. Jobless, insolent, many from broken homes, they spend their days dealing drugs, honking at our women and slicking back their head feathers with switchblade combs. They’re so rude it’s hard to believe they’re Canadian.

And you’d better get used to it: Thanks to climate change, the decent, God-fearing geese of decades past—who stopped only briefly in Portland on their orderly way to warmer climes—have been supplanted by an unruly, shiftless mob for whom the Willamette Valley is south.

“Wintering populations of Canada and cackling geese in the Willamette Valley have increased from about 10,000 in 1940 to about 300,000 today,” says the Audubon Society of Portland’s conservation director, Bob Sallinger. (Surely at least one of them is breaking into your car.)

“Think of them as winged cattle,” suggests urban naturalist Mike Houck, also of Portland Audubon. “Being grazers, they just love those golf courses and corporate park lawns.”

They also love to ravage winter crops, and unfortunately for farmers, hunting of Canada geese is limited by treaty obligations to Alaska natives, so their numbers are likely to increase.

Meanwhile, Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife has been planting goose-grazing fields on Sauvie Island, hoping to lure the geese away from private farmland. To me, that seems like leaving a pile of money in your foyer to keep burglars from stealing your stuff, but what do I know?

 
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