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July 10, 2012 06:00 PM

Goose Season Expanded, Farmers Hopeful

The state is taking steps to decrease a problem that can cost farmers thousands.

Canada geese have been eating crops and eating away at farmers’ bottom line. But Game, Fish & Parks is altering the goose hunting season so hunters can kill more of them this year.

With his crops threatened and eaten by geese, Ryan Wagner is happy about the hunting changes.

"We get quite a few hunters here and we let people hunt because we know it helps control the population. So yeah, we appreciate all the efforts the GF&P go through," Wagner said.

When geese eat portions of his fields, Wagner says it costs him about $1,000 an acre for corn and $500 an acre for beans. So it doesn't take long for losses to pile up.

Wagner lives in Day County and says farmers in his area have been dealing with this issue for years. But GF&P has been fielding complaints from a growing number of places.

"We had about 30 full-time employees handling goose complaints just in our region alone," conservation officer Tim McCurdy said.

McCurdy works out of Aberdeen. He says there have been 100 more complaints in the state this year compared to the same time last year.

That’s one reason GF&P opted to start the August hunting season a week early and expand the number of counties where it’s allowed. It has also increased the number of birds each hunter can kill per day by seven.

"Hopefully, we'll get on top of those goose numbers," McCurdy said.

Back in Day County, Wagner echoes that. GF&P has an electric fence running between water and some of his fields. It's taken other measures too. But he'd just as soon see fewer geese altogether.

"Hopefully, it'll be a good program. Hopefully, we can get it under control," Wagner said.

The estimated Canada goose population in the state is up about 42,000 from last year.
 

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