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Alpena Municipal Council OKs three goose hunts

News Photo by Steve Schulwitz Geese gather in an Alpena park on Monday. The Alpena Municipal Council voted Monday to have three days of private goose hunting in the city to help reduce the birds’ population. The geese are considered a nuisance by some and, this year, it appears the number of birds in the area has increased. The hunting dates will be Sept. 3, 10, and 17.

ALPENA — The Alpena Municipal Council has approved three goose hunts in the city next month to lower the population of the birds many consider a nuisance.

The hunts are scheduled for Sept. 3, 10, and 17.

The council approved the hunts in a 3-1 vote, with Mayor Pro Tempore Cindy Johnson voting no.

Councilwoman Amber Hess was excused from the meeting.

Johnson said her vote had nothing to do with gun control and she is not anti-hunting. She said she believes there are more humane ways to handle the geese that don’t require firearms being shot in the city.

“I just think there is a better way to address this, especially in the city limits,” she said. “We are having these hunts on our beaches, parks, in a sanctuary, and I just think … there has to be another way.”

It is not uncommon to see geese in various parks and fields around Alpena, but the city has tried for the last several years to reduce the population of the birds and limit their messes and threatening behavior.

At Monday’s Alpena Municipal Council meeting, city Building Official Don Gilmet reported to council that there appears to be more geese this summer than in past years.

Gilmet said there are 200 to 250 geese in the city, a number he expects to climb as migrating geese make pit stops in the city.

The birds litter parks, sidewalks, the bi-path, and sports fields with their droppings and can also become aggressive to people walking, bike riding, or kayaking in their vicinity. Gilmet said other techniques have been used to scare the birds away, such as pyrotechnics and predator dummies, but the birds return quickly, if they leave at all.

The hunt is reserved for hunters who have participated in the past, as well as some city employees. The hunts will happen at the Alpena County Fairgrounds and at Mich-e-ke-wis Park.

Gilmet said 115 geese were harvested last year.

“The success in reducing local goose populations lies in the numbers of local nesting geese that are removed through hunting,” he said. “This reduces the number that will return to nest next year. Nothing will eliminate them all, nor should that be a goal, but, rather, keeping local goose numbers at a reasonable level to reduce the nuisance interactions between them and people.”

Gilmet said there is typically an egg collection program administered in the spring, but that didn’t didn’t take place this year because of the COVID-19 pandemic.

In 2017, city officials collected 123 eggs from 24 nests. In 2018, 71 eggs were collected from 13 nests. Last year, 126 eggs were collected from 20 nests.

The hunt will cost about $1,000 and Gilmet said and each hunter will have to sign a waiver beforehand. The bike path gates will be closed or barricades erected to close off the hunting areas. No campers will be allowed near the campsites near the river during the hunt.

Steve Schulwitz can be reached at 989-358-5689 at sschulwitz@thealpenanews.com. Follow him on Twitter @ss_alpenanews.com.

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