Monday, October 30, 2017 by Russel Davis
The open hunting season for Canada geese may have started in Illinois, but the birds apparently have found a new solution to evade the hunters. A study published online in The Condor has revealed that Canada geese are flying into the city and roost in order to stay out of the line of fire. As part of the study, a team of researchers at the University of Illinois captured and attached transmitters to 41 geese within the Greater Chicago Metropolitan Area during mid-November and late February between 2014 and 2016.
The results have shown that 85 percent of the Canada geese examined spent winter in the Greater Chicago Metropolitan Area. The findings have also revealed that none of the birds flew to agricultural fields within or outside of the urban area. Likewise, the research team has observed that 70 percent of the birds tracked returned to the Chicagoland area before the open hunting season begins.
The experts have also noted that the birds chose green spaces 55 percent less often when the winter months grow colder and the snow depth increases. According to the researchers, the birds’ preference for industrial urban areas — such as water treatment facilities and deep-water areas within shipping canals — rises to 140 percent during the colder season. The experts have discussed that the birds’ preference for urban roosting during the winter season might play to their advantage as they minimize risk instead of maximizing energy intake.
“We thought the geese would fly to forage on nearby agricultural fields during the day, then fly back to the city to roost, but that wasn’t the case. What we learned is that they weren’t going to the city for food, they were going there because there were no hunters…All of the Canada geese that spent the winter in Chicago survived, whereas half of the birds that decided to leave the Chicagoland area and go to areas where hunting is allowed, and more prevalent, were harvested,” University of Illinois ornithologist Mike Ward has stated in a EurekAlert release.
The geese’s arrival could also signal safety hazard in both residential and urban areas. According to the researchers, the influx of birds may contribute to the rising number of goose-aircraft collision. According to the researchers, geese are the largest birds that are frequently struck by aircraft. The experts have also found that the birds account for more than 1,400 bird-aircraft collision between 1990 and 2012. (Related: Montana: Several thousand snow geese die after landing in toxic, acidic water.)
Moreover, the study has revealed that goose-aircraft strikes damaged the U.S. Airways Flight 1549. The research team has revealed that the collision, which is a result of striking multiple subarctic-breeding Canada geese, has led to 24 human deaths and has forced the $190 million U.S. Air Force aircraft to crash land in the Hudson River in New York. According to the experts, the birds’ high survival rate and their tendency to stay put may prove challenging the manage their population.
“Dense concentrations of geese in urban areas can pose threats to humans, including contamination of water sources, aggressive behavior toward humans, disease transmission, and strikes with aircraft. Geese are the largest bird commonly struck by aircraft in North America and were responsible for 1,403 recorded bird strikes to civil aircraft from 1990 to 2012…We have future studies that will investigate the best ways to harass geese to make them leave the city. We are approaching this from an energy use perspective. If the geese cannot find good sources of food and the harassment cause them to use energy, they may be forced to leave the city in search of food in agricultural fields,” Ward tells Science Daily online.
You can read more interesting articles on animal behavior and science-related news on Research.news.