RANGELEY — A management plan is being enacted to reduce the resident Canada goose population in the town and Rangeley Lake area that calls for the use of carbon dioxide to euthanize the waterfowl.

The geese have become very abundant and accustomed to human presence, and are an imminent threat to human health, according to authorities.

“This behavior has led to an alarming amount of droppings in recreational areas which can spread disease to people, and has resulted in damaged lawns, and costly cleanup and repair efforts,” Robin Dyer, the state director of (U.S. Department of Agriculture) Animal and Plant Health Inspections, Wildlife Services who is also a certified wildlife biologist, wrote in an email. “In this situation, Wildlife Services has worked with the cooperator for over a year, attending meetings and providing numerous non-lethal options including harassment techniques, and chemical application options which remove the attractiveness of the lawn to geese.”

Nonlethal methods failed to remedy the situation because of the over-abundance of geese.

“After consultation with the USDA and a public comment period, the Goose Damage Management Plan was authorized by the (Rangeley) Board of Selectmen,” Rangeley Town Manager Joe Roach wrote in an email.  “The approved plan was subsequently directed to me for operational implementation with the wildlife experts.”

There was a 15-day period from April 29 to May 13 that people could comment on the proposed damage management plan.


Roach estimated that there are roughly 75 to 100 geese.  The geese frequent the beach area, town park and green spaces, and other places. There are also geese at the airport, which Roach estimated could be from the same group.

Resident Canada geese are those that breed and nest in the United States, Dyer wrote. The population of these residents increased 16-fold from 1970 to 2009 (from 230,000 to 3.89 million). Goose strikes to aviation and damage complaints regarding resident Canada geese increased at the same time. In urban areas, they have few predators and hunting cannot be used to control the population, she wrote.

U.S. Wildlife Services only responds when the public or partnering agencies request assistance. The service is permitted to conduct wildlife damage management and must adhere to all rules, laws and regulations set by wildlife management agencies.

Given the severity of the situation, the abundance of geese, and imminent threat to human health and safety, Wildlife Services was requested to conduct a capture effort which will result in the humane euthanasia of the geese, Dyer wrote.

Wildlife Services “strictly adheres to the American Veterinary Medical Association guidelines for humane euthanasia which in this case requires the use of carbon dioxide. Highly pathogenic avian influenza (HPAI) has become a serious concern in birds nationwide and can be carried in many species of waterfowl, including geese. This disease not only jeopardizes the health of wild birds but is even more impactful to domestic poultry populations,” Dyer wrote.

Due to the elevated concern for the avian influence, those species that can carry the disease must be treated with extreme caution; the disposition of carcasses cannot be donated or come in contact with other birds, according to Dyer.

“Because of this, the carcasses will be composted in a manner that complies with all disease precautionary measures. Lethal removal and disposition are outcomes permitted by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (the governing agency for all migratory birds) and agreed upon by the Maine Department of Inland Fisheries Wildlife,” she wrote.

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