02/26/2020 | News release | Distributed by Public on 02/26/2020 19:52
By Marie Gadotti, Chair of the OFB Goose Depredation Committee and President of Columbia County Farm Bureau
Posted Feb. 27, 2020: In recent months, I've had several inquiries from farmers about how to obtain a goose depredation permit from the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service (USFWS).
As many farmers in the Willamette Valley know first-hand, along with an increasing number of growers in other parts of the state, goose depredation on crops is a very frustrating, and very expensive, problem.
A few years ago, it was estimated that geese wintering in the Valley caused a minimum of $15 million in crop damage each year, a number that is doubtlessly much higher today.
Farm Bureau members and OFB staff have worked extremely hard on the goose depredation issue for decades. We've traveled to Alaska numerous times, attended Pacific Flyway Council meetings in the various participating states, including last August in Portland, and attended four days of meetings in Seattle to pursue lowering the Cackler Population Target Numbers (without success).
But we've also had some successes.
These include eliminating check stations, opening up hunting for the full 107 days (which gave us seven days a week of hunting) allowed by the Migratory Bird Treaty Act, and getting Oregon farmers the ability to obtain a kill permit.
First step: Calculate the cost to your farm
Only those who suffer damage from geese and who have tried nonlethal measures to prevent or minimize bird damage are eligible for USFWS goose depredation permits.
The permit application asks for a description of the impact on your farm.
To help Farm Bureau members calculate the full cost of damage, we created a survey. See the Farm Bureau Goose Damage Survey: as a .docx file or as a fillable PDF (also available at OregonFB.org/geese).
Included are sections on hazing costs, extra fertilizer and pesticide expenses caused by geese damage, and yield loss.
By using the survey, farmers can get permits that not only only authorize the killing of a limited number of geese, which helps growers move the birds off their crops, but also provide the authorities an idea of just how much damage geese inflict on Oregon farmers.
If you need help, please call me at 503.543.6573.
USFWS goose depredation permit process
Currently, the federal goose depredation permits give farmers who qualify the authority to kill 20 geese. If a farmer reaches the limit, they can ask for an increase in the 20-goose cap.
There is no statewide cap for take of resident geese. Wintering geese kills are capped at 500 per year in Oregon.
The cost to obtain a permit is $100 and can be used for both migratory and resident geese, provided the applicant requests that provision in the permit application.
Depredation permits for wintering and resident geese can be used only on non-hunting days.
One permit covers all land in production by a farmer.
Permittees do not need to take geese they kill to an Oregon Dept. of Fish & Wildlife check station, however there are instructions about burying the geese. Please refer to the permit for details.
It is still illegal to kill Canadian dusky geese - and the populations of duskies are closely monitored.
USFWS applications must also include a Form 37 from USDA Wildlife Services in Oregon before becoming eligible for the depredation permit. Contact Wildlife Services at 503.326.2346 to start that process.
For more information about the goose depredation issue and how to apply for a permit, please call me at 503.543.6573.