Date of this Version
The Journal of Wildlife Management 79(7):1185–1191; 2015
Resident (non-migratory) Canada goose (Branta canadensis) populations in suburban
environments pose risks to human health and safety. Specifically, the relatively large size and gregarious
behavior of geese combined with an overlap in aircraft flight space pose substantial risk of property damage and human fatalities from goose-aircraft collisions. We estimated home range and core use areas of resident Canada geese and evaluated goose movements to better define the risk of goose-aircraft collisions around Piedmont Triad International Airport in Greensboro, North Carolina, USA.We placed satellite transmitters on 16 of 763 neck- and leg-banded geese to identify and track individuals over an 18-month study period. The frequency of satellite-tagged goose movements peaked daily within the first 2 hours after sunrise (28.1%) and again near sunset (27.2%). All in-flight goose movements occurred <64m above ground level. Geese flying at these altitudes posed a risk to aircraft in the take-off and landing phases of flight. For all in-flight movements, the number of movements per day was 0.13 during the molt (1 Jun–15 Jul), 0.42 during early post-molt 2008 (16 Jul–31 Oct), 0.36 during late post-molt (1 Nov–31 Jan), 0.58 during breeding/nesting (1 Feb–31 May), and 0.58 during the early post-molt 2009. Satellite-tagged geese traveled a mean distance ranging from 2.0 km (SE=0.3) to 4.9 km (SE=0.4) per day, depending on sex and season, which supports the need for intensive goose management within a minimum distance of 8 km from airports. Mean fixed 95% kernel home range and 50% core use area were 991.8 ha (SE=241.1) and 120.4 ha (SE=24.6), respectively. Additionally, we monitored site recolonization of nuisance geese after the controlled removal of 60 resident geese from 1 site, which eliminated 24.2% of those initially banded at the site in 2008, but other geese began to recolonize the site within 27 days. Rapid recolonization of the removal site suggests that lethal removal should be conducted at all molt locations within a minimum distance of 8 km of suburban airports and any additional removal or management resources should be applied to greater distances to prevent recolonization of these sites by geese in close proximity to the removal site.