POINT PLEASANT, W.Va. — You’ve probably heard the phrase “herding cats” used to describe an effort to lead a chaotic event.  West Virginia Division of Natural Resources Wildlife Biologist Kim Shaw could appropriately use the term “herding geese” in the same way. Shaw and his team from the DNR’s District 5 recently completed their bi-annual goose banding project.

“It’s a long term study. We’re banding these to show movement of the geese,” said Shaw. “We get some other information about longevity to let us know how long these guys live.”

Each year, working in cooperation with the United States Fish and Wildlife Service, the DNR puts bands on Canada geese every other year.  This year the geese were banded in the odd numbered districts West Virginia.  They band a minimum of 300 which they managed to live trap into pens until the metal band can be attached to the foot.

“Some years we’ve been lucky and get them all in one location, those are the good years,” said Shaw. “This year we had to go to six locations from the Mountaineer Power Plant to the YMCA in Huntington.”

The bands are used to track a birds movement. Shaw admits most of the geese being banded here are resident birds in West Virginia. The work is done while geese are molting and cannot fly. In some locations, if the birds are creating a nuisance they’ll relocate the birds before releasing them. However, Shaw said it’s not uncommon for them to fly back to the same spot once the wing feathers develop.

“We’re on the Ohio river and there’s water available, so the places we went like the sediment ponds at Mountaineer Power Station, the pond at Krodel Lake,” said Shaw. “All these had water and a lot of mowed grass.  Just perfect conditions for geese.”

The bands are highly prized by hunters who can keep the band. They’re often seen decorating the lanyard of a hunters calls as keepsakes. Shaw said the information gleaned is valuable and effective.

“A study several years ago, we were able to prove about 96 percent of our birds here are resident birds,” Shaw said. “That was at a time a lot of states were reducing their goose seasons.  Here in West Virginia we got to keep our early goose season and even add another week of hunting and it was a direct result of the study.”

While the state’s odd numbered districts are banding Canada geese, the even numbered districts this year are banding mourning doves. Unlike the geese, the doves are known to travel much further and often proved more challenging to catch.

“We’re involved in the largest dove banding projects we’ve ever been in. There’s 27 states and three Canadian provinces involved,” said Shaw. “We try to band 100 a year and release them where we caught them. We had a few turned back in that were in Alabama.”

The flightless geese are simply herded into a temporary pen, but biologist have to be more crafty with the doves. They set box traps in various locations, the travel a circuit checking the traps. Much like the goose survey, the hunter participation is the key to the dove research as well.

“The first year we did this to encourage people to report these bands we put a gold colored band on these birds,” Shaw explained. “The hunter who reported those bands received a check for $100.”

The major bounty is no longer offered, but hunters still receive a nice certificate and some information about how far their bird traveled along with the assurance they’ve done their part to aid in wildlife conservation.

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  • Fred

    In my view, animals are far better than people and killing one is the last thing I want to do. I think people hunt because they need a feeling of power over something and they have a lust for blood. The video of the WVU mountaineer mascot shooting the bear cub is a perfect example, the guy goes nuts in a screaming, chest beating state of euphoria because he was able to shoot a 35 lb bear cub that was 8 feet up a tree. Disgusting.

  • Annmarie

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  • Greg

    The surveys and banding are done to ensure that hunting limits are set at appropriate levels... to keep human activities in check, not the birds.

  • thornton

    Nice if Nature was left alone?...nah, too late for that by several millennia, Mr. or Ms. VanWinkle.

    Plus, that would require ignoring too much that is so very inconvenient for the anti-nature, afraid-to-learn, "oooh, that's icky" folks to realize.
    I suspect the benefits delivered by truly diverse and healthy and so viable specie ecosystems are as foreign to you as scented soap.
    I hope you appreciate my giving you the benefit of the doubt on that last.

    That said, there often is a lack of wisdom in the arbitrary picking of winners and losers in the woods and fields, plains and mountains and, beyond....with both silly saps, such as yourself, and selfish, species-blinded hunters each adding to that stew of stupid.

  • naturelover

    Facts? Please? Dangerously multiply---surely you jest. It is humans who are doing that, granddad, not geese. And a "public health hazard" Right. Cause "death by goose" is one of the top causes of death, right up there next to heart disease and car accidents.

  • naturelover

    Wouldn't it be nice if they just left nature alone? What nonsense that the GOVT can balance nature better than Mother Nature. Government can't even balance a budget. These state and fed wildlife agencies are nothing more than PR firms for hunters, and taxpayer money pits. They really don't care much for the actual living beings, or for the majority of the public who does not support hunting.

  • Onx

    They aren't a public health hazard either. Why do you people make up excuses to villainize geese??

    Dr. Milton Friend, Emeritus Scientist, former director, Wildlife Research Center Water Fowl Disease U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, is adamant: "On occasion we have been wading in that stuff [feces], dead birds up to our elbows... THERE IS NOT A SINGLE DOCUMENTED CASE OF ANY OF US COMING DOWN WITH ANY KIND OF A DISEASE PROBLEMS AS A RESULT OF THE CANADA GOOSE...WE DO NOT HAVE A HUMAN HEALTH SITUATION, NOT IN THE URBAN GOOSE, NOT IN THE WILD GOOSE, and not in the captive geese that we have also worked with. We do have a lot of diseases out there that can affect people. MOST OF THEM COME FROM DIFFERENT PLACES AND DO NOT COME FROM THE CANADA GOOSE AND I’LL LEAVE YOU WITH THAT.”

    Dr. Timothy Ford, professor at the Harvard School of Public Health and author of "Microbiological Safety of Drinking Water: United States and Global Perspective 1999," states: "Numbers of Cryptosporidium oocysts associated with Canada geese and waterfowl in general are likely to be minimal, unimportant relative to the potential for oocysts shed from other forms of wildlife and humans. IN MY MIND THERE IS NO POSSIBILITY THAT THE CANADA GOOSE WILL EVER BE A MAJOR ROUTE OF INFECTION. TO SUGGEST OTHERWISE IS UTTERLY LUDICROUS AND YOU CAN QUOTE ME

    And David S. Adam, Coordinator of Health Projects, Vector Control, Infectious and Zoonotic Disease Program for the State of New Jersey Department of Health, writes: "Giardia lamblia, as well as Cryptosporidium, is most commonly transmitted to humans by person-to-person fecal-oral contamination or by water fecally contaminated by humans or other mammals. Infection is usually asymptomatic with children infected more frequently than adults, often in the day-care setting. In summary, the role of Canada geese in the transmission of Cryptospordium or Giardia to humans is not well established, BUT APPEARS TO BE SMALL COMPARED WITH OTHER MODES OF TRANSMISSION.”

    Mr. Adams adds that CANADA GEESE HAVE BEEN WRONGLY BLAMED FOR BEACH CLOSINGS: "A number of beach closings including several in New Jersey have been attributed to this cause [high fecal coliform counts attributed to Canada geese]. However, research on this subject (including surveillance conducted in New Jersey) has usually found VERY LOW LEVELS OF PATHOGENIC BACTERIA, such as Salmonella sp., in the feces of waterfowl NOT EXPOSED TO HUMAN SEWAGE EFFLUENT.”

    Avian Impacts on Recreational Water Quality

    - Gregory T. Kleinheinz and Kimberly Busse
    - University of Wisconsin Oshkosh, Department of Biology and Microbiology


    The links between what diseases “may‟ be passed from avian species to aquatic environments, and what actually is passed is lacking. As stated above, SEVERAL RESEARCHERS HAVE FOUND AVIAN SPECIES NOT ABLE TO TRANSMIT PATHOGENIC VIRUSES AND BACTERIA THAT ARE FOUND IN HUMAN WASTE.

    1000 E.coli /100mL from an avian source LIKELY CARRIES A MUCH LOWER PROBABILITY FOR CAUSING HUMAN DISEASE THAT 1000 E.coli/100mL derived from a human source. This difference in disease causing potential casts doubt on the use of the current criteria for beach closures when one knows the source of the E.coli is from an avian source. Again, there has been
    no epidemiological study to confirm this supposition, but the evidence strongly suggests that this is the case.


    You don't have a goose problem...you have a human ignorance problem.

  • Onx

    That's because Americans are backwards. And I bet you didn't know your taxpayer dollars were used to develop a birth control for Canada geese...OvoControlG.

    Geese live in communities like people, nest in the same spot year after year. It's not rocket science.

    MEDIA RELEASE: Egg Addling Controls Goose Population

    “In a continued effort to control the Canada Goose population in the Okanagan Valley, the Okanagan Valley Goose Management Program is about to begin its annual egg addling program. Over the PAST SIX YEARS, this program has prevented the exponential increase of the non-migratory resident goose population that inhabits the valley all year long………Since the program began in 2007, approximately 7,700 EGGS HAVE BEEN PREVENTED FROM HATCHING THROUGH THIS MINIMALLY INVASIVE APPROACH…. ….In order for the program to succeed, new nests need to be identified. The PUBLIC IS ASKED TO REPORT lone geese, pairs of geese or nest locations on private or public land.”


    In addition to ground surveys, aerial surveys were conducted in 2007 and 2011 to estimate the number of geese residing in the Okanagan Valley and to determine what proportion of the population were hatched that year. THE CANADA GOOSE POPULATION APPEARS TO HAVE STABILIZED THROUGHOUT THE VALLEY.




    The Okanagan Valley in BC is a major tourist and recreational area. The Okanagan Lake is 70 miles long. Other major industries include orchards and vineyards. The valley is as big as the state of NJ and they have a humane egg addling program which has successfully stabilized their permanent resident Canada goose population.

  • Shadow

    WV needs more Goose and Coyote Hunters.

  • Shadow

    Your lack of knowledge of Game Management is showing. In what field is your knowledge?

  • thornton

    "Conservation" can be a bad word to drop, in that it gives an opening to anyone seeking to use a Funk & Wagnalls for their own purposes.

    Monitoring gamebird populations is a vital tool in determining issues and trends in a timely manner....that monitoring needs to be longterm and across the board in methods for practical info to be tallied.
    Hunter help thru band recovery, harvest figures, etc. in that monitoring is a long-established tool in proper, effective and vital game management.

    The comparable value received as regards geese today may be in question, tho everything from shortstopping to health indications revealed is deserved by all species.
    Geese, let's face it, receive a look for the ease and low effort vs. reward. Just the sad way it is.
    Still, there are far worse ways to spend DNR and Federal dollars.

  • granddad

    Geese continue to dangerously multiply and are a public health hazard at lakes and river throughout the state.

  • Marion

    Fred ?! Can u be more specific ?

  • Fred

    A hunter receives a 'nice certificate' for killing an animal and somehow that is construed to be 'conservation'.