Adventures With Geese
We are pleased to share a blog post from Maria Corse, one of the explorers that joined us on Wednesday for the annual goose drive at Wilson Hill! There will be a link to her blog at the bottom of this post, please check it out!
Billed as the Annual North Country Goose Round-up, today’s adventure with the Nature Up North Crew from SLU was filled with an abundance of fun, sweat, sunburn and just a few ticked off geese, as well as a new understanding of the term Goose Round-up.
We started the day at 6:30AM in Parking Lot D on the SLU Campus. The Nature Up North Staff, four students, Emily, Nate, Kate and Abby, Pete, a SLU professor and I clamored into two vehicles, one pulling the canoe trailer with six canoes strapped on, and drove to the DEC Wilson Hill Wildlife Management Area in Louisville on the St. Lawrence River, a remote section of Northern St Lawrence County.
With nary a goose in sight, despite my vivid imaginary visions of hundreds of Canada Geese wandering around on the river bank, we dropped off the canoes, paddles, and life vests next to the water. After waiting for quite a while, with probably about 75 other folks from all walks of life, some with experience, but many without, the round-up was underway. We all got into our water craft with minimal instruction as to what we were doing or where we were actually going to end up, hopefully with a flock of geese in front of us.
Despite our lack of knowledge, the forty or so canoes and kayaks moved cooperatively into a line to create a boom that swept the whole pond, which I should note, had previously been perfectly dry land before the dam was built in the early 50s to create the St. Lawrence Seaway. As we canoed past ghostly tree stumps, the canoes on the left slowly began to circle around, the canoes in the middle stopped paddling and several on the right stayed close to shore where we had started originally. Eventually, the geese were spotted, their heads just little straight lines sticking out of the water. We were able to circle around a family of confused loons, two babes and two parents, leaving the little group mostly undisturbed.
An hour later, the canoe and kayak boom had closed in on the flock and gently pushed them toward their funnel like destination created by fencing all along the shore. We watched in amazement as they docilely swam through the gap toward the temporary holding area on shore. Just as the last few were filtering through, I watched in admiration as one one turned around and swam directly at the line of boats surrounding it, weaving and dodging past us all as he made his way through the gauntlet to freedom. Yes, I have always admired a rebel!
After disembarking and pulling the canoes up the hill and out of the way, we ate a welcome lunch of grilled hamburgers and hot dogs provided by the DEC. Eventually, I noticed the crowd had swelled and folks were lined up outside the holding area. I was still convinced that my chicken wrangling skills were going to be put to good use in the goose pen. However, the DEC has a much more tame and I must say organized way to deal with a large crowd that wanted to get their hands on the geese.
The professional wranglers were in the mostly hidden yard with the geese. They drove a few into a net and grabbed two at a time by their wings. Each person in line (children and adults) was then handed a goose (some angry and ready for a fight others completely relaxed and compliant), suitcase style and directed either to the DEC employee who banded the bird and who then sent them to the real pro who sexed it, or directly to a person who read the band placed on the goose in a previous year. The geese were then dumped back into the water; some went gracefully, while others looked a bit disheveled and worse for wear after their ordeal.
This important annual event is just one more way regular folks in the community are invited to participate in the awesome natural world we have right here in the North Country. You can find more opportunities hosted or advertised by Nature Up North on their website.
Maria's Blog - http://deeprootfarm.wordpress.com/