[Federal Register Volume 64, Number 250 (Thursday, December 30, 1999)]
[Notices]
[Pages 73570-73573]
From the Federal Register Online via the Government Publishing Office [www.gpo.gov]
[FR Doc No: 99-33961]


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DEPARTMENT OF THE INTERIOR

Fish and Wildlife Service


Migratory Bird Permits; Environmental Impact Statement on 
Resident Canada Goose Management; Notice

AGENCY: Fish and Wildlife Service, Interior.

ACTION: Notice of meetings.

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SUMMARY: The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (Service or we) is issuing 
this notice to invite public participation in the scoping process for 
preparing an Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) for resident Canada 
goose management under the authority of the Migratory Bird Treaty Act. 
The EIS will consider a range of management alternatives for addressing 
expanding populations of locally-breeding Canada geese that are

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increasingly posing threats to health and human safety and damaging 
personal and public property. This notice describes possible 
alternatives, invites further public participation in the scoping 
process, identifies the location, date, and time of public scoping 
meetings, and identifies to whom you may direct questions and comments.

DATES: You must submit written comments regarding EIS scoping by March 
30, 2000, to the address below. Dates for nine public scoping meetings 
are identified in the SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION section.

ADDRESSES: You should send written comments to the Chief, Office of 
Migratory Bird Management, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Department 
of the Interior, ms 634--ARLSQ, 1849 C Street NW., Washington, D.C. 
20240. Alternately, you may submit comments electronically to the 
following address: canada__goose__eis@fws.gov. All comments received, 
including names and addresses, will become part of the public record. 
You may inspect comments during normal business hours in room 634--
Arlington Square Building, 4401 N. Fairfax Drive, Arlington, Virginia.

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Jonathan Andrew, Chief, or Ron W. 
Kokel, Office of Migratory Bird Management, U.S. Fish and Wildlife 
Service, (703) 358-1714.

SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: On August 19, 1999, we published a Notice of 
Intent to prepare an EIS on resident Canada goose management (64 FR 
45269). This action is in response to the growing numbers of Canada 
geese that nest and reside predominantly within the conterminous United 
States and our desire to examine alternative strategies to control and 
manage resident Canada geese that either pose a threat to health and 
human safety or cause damage to personal and public property.

Resident Canada Goose Populations

    Numbers of Canada geese that nest and reside predominantly in the 
conterminous United States have increased tremendously in recent years. 
These geese are usually referred to as ``resident'' Canada geese. 
Recent surveys in the Atlantic, Mississippi, and Central Flyways (Wood 
et al., 1994; Kelley et al., 1998; Nelson and Oetting, 1998; Sheaffer 
and Malecki, 1998; Wilkins and Cooch, 1999) suggest that the resident 
breeding population now exceeds 1 million individuals in both the 
Atlantic (17 States) and Mississippi (14 States) Flyways. Available 
information shows that in the Atlantic Flyway, the resident population 
has increased an average of 14 percent per year since 1989. In the 
Mississippi Flyway, the resident population of Canada geese has 
increased at a rate of about 6 percent per year during the last 10 
years. In the Central and Pacific Flyways, populations of resident 
Canada geese have similarly increased over the last few years. We are 
concerned about the rapid growth rate exhibited by these already large 
populations.
    Because resident Canada geese live in temperate climates with 
relatively stable breeding habitat conditions and low numbers of 
predators, tolerate human and other disturbances, have a relative 
abundance of preferred habitat provided by current urban/suburban 
landscaping techniques, and fly relatively short distances to winter 
compared with other Canada goose populations, they exhibit a 
consistently high annual production and survival. Given these 
characteristics, the absence of waterfowl hunting in many of these 
areas, and free food handouts by some people, these urban/suburban 
resident Canada goose populations are increasingly coming into conflict 
with human activities in many parts of the country.
    Conflicts between geese and people affect or damage several types 
of resources, including property, human health and safety, agriculture, 
and natural resources. Common problem areas include public parks, 
airports, public beaches and swimming facilities, water-treatment 
reservoirs, corporate business areas, golf courses, schools, college 
campuses, private lawns, amusement parks, cemeteries, hospitals, 
residential subdivisions, and along or between highways.
    While short-term management strategies have helped alleviate some 
localized problems and conflicts, because of the unique locations where 
large numbers of these geese nest, feed, and reside, for long-term 
management of these birds we believe that new and innovative approaches 
and strategies for dealing with bird/human conflicts will be needed. In 
order to properly examine alternative strategies to control and manage 
resident Canada geese that either pose a threat to health and human 
safety or cause damage to personal and public property, the preparation 
of an EIS is necessary.

Alternatives

    We are considering the following alternatives. After the scoping 
process, we will develop the alternatives to be included in the EIS and 
base them on the mission of the Service and comments received during 
scoping. We are soliciting your comments on issues, alternatives, and 
impacts to be addressed in the EIS.

A. No Action Alternative

    Under the No Action Alternative, no additional regulatory methods 
or strategies would be authorized. We would continue the use of special 
hunting seasons, the issuance of depredation permits, and the issuance 
of special Canada goose permits. These permits would continue to be 
issued under existing regulations.
    For each of the next 5 alternatives, as a baseline for comparison, 
we would continue the use of special hunting seasons, the issuance of 
depredation permits, and the issuance of special Canada goose permits. 
All of these permits would continue to be issued under existing 
regulations.

B. Increased Promotion of Non-lethal Control and Management

    Under this alternative, we would actively promote the increased use 
of non-lethal management tools, such as habitat manipulation and 
management, harassment techniques, and trapping and relocation. While 
permits would continue to be issued under existing regulations, no 
additional regulatory methods or strategies would be introduced.

C. Nest and Egg Depredation Order

    This alternative would provide a direct population control strategy 
for resident Canada goose breeding areas in the U.S. This alternative 
would establish a depredation order authorizing States to implement a 
program allowing the take of nests and eggs to stabilize resident 
Canada goose populations without threatening their long-term health. 
Monitoring and evaluation programs are in place, or would be required, 
to estimate population sizes and prevent populations from falling below 
either the lower management thresholds established by Flyway Councils, 
or individual State population objectives. Since the goal of this 
alternative would be to stabilize breeding populations, not direct 
reduction, no appreciable reduction in the numbers of adult Canada 
geese would likely occur.

D. Depredation Order for Health and Human Safety

    This alternative would establish a depredation order authorizing 
States to establish and implement a program allowing the take of 
resident Canada goose adults, goslings, nests and eggs from populations 
posing threats to health and human safety. The intent of this 
alternative is to significantly reduce

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or stabilize resident Canada goose populations at areas such as 
airports, water supply reservoirs, and other such areas, where there is 
a demonstrated threat to health and human safety, without threatening 
the population's long-term health. Monitoring and evaluation programs 
are in place, or would be required, to estimate population sizes and 
prevent populations from falling below either the lower management 
thresholds established by Flyway Councils, or individual State 
population objectives. Under this alternative, some appreciable 
localized reductions in the numbers of adult geese could occur.

E. Conservation Order

    This alternative would authorize direct population control 
strategies such as nest and egg destruction, gosling and adult trapping 
and culling programs, or other general population reduction strategies 
on resident Canada goose populations in the U.S. This alternative would 
establish a conservation order authorizing States to develop and 
implement a program allowing the take of geese posing threats to health 
and human safety and damaging personal and public property. The intent 
of this alternative is to significantly reduce or stabilize resident 
Canada goose populations at areas where conflicts are occurring without 
threatening the long-term health of the overall population. Monitoring 
and evaluation programs are in place, or would be required, to estimate 
population sizes and prevent populations from falling below either the 
lower management thresholds established by Flyway Councils, or 
individual State population objectives. State breeding populations 
would be monitored annually each spring to determine the maximum 
allowable take under the conservation order. Under this alternative, 
some appreciable localized reductions in the numbers of adult geese 
would likely occur and lesser overall population reductions could 
occur.

F. General Depredation Order

    This alternative would authorize direct population control 
strategies such as nest and egg destruction, gosling and adult trapping 
and culling programs, or other general population reduction strategies 
on resident Canada goose populations in the U.S. This alternative would 
establish a depredation order allowing any authorized person to take 
geese posing threats to health and human safety and damaging personal 
and public property. The intent of this alternative is to significantly 
reduce resident Canada goose populations at areas where conflicts are 
occurring. Monitoring and evaluation programs are in place, or would be 
required, to estimate population sizes and prevent populations from 
falling below either the lower management thresholds established by 
Flyway Councils, or individual State population objectives. Under this 
alternative, some appreciable localized reductions in the numbers of 
adult geese would likely occur and lesser overall population reductions 
could occur.

Issue Resolution and Environmental Review

    The primary issue to be addressed during the scoping and planning 
process for the EIS is to determine which management alternatives for 
the control of resident Canada goose populations will be analyzed. We 
will prepare a discussion of the potential effect, by alternative, 
which will include the following areas:
    (1) Resident Canada goose populations and their habitats.
    (2) Human health and safety.
    (3) Public and private property damage and conflicts.
    (4) Sport hunting opportunities.
    (5) Socioeconomic effects.
    We will conduct the environmental review of the management action 
in accordance with the requirements of the National Environmental 
Policy Act, as appropriate. We are furnishing this Notice in accordance 
with 40 CFR 1501.7, to obtain suggestions and information from other 
agencies, tribes, and the public on the scope of issues to be addressed 
in the EIS. A draft EIS should be available to the public in the spring 
of 2000.

Public Scoping Meetings

    Nine public scoping meetings will be held on the following dates at 
the indicated locations and times:
    1. February 8, 2000; Nashville, Tennessee, at the Ellington 
Agricultural Center, Ed Jones Auditorium, 440 Hogan Road, 7 p.m.
    2. February 9, 2000; Parsippany, New Jersey, at the Holiday Inn, 
707 Route 46 East, 7 p.m.
    3. February 10, 2000; Danbury, Connecticut, at the Holiday Inn, 80 
Newtown Road, 7 p.m.
    4. February 15, 2000; Palatine, Illinois, at the Holiday Inn 
Express, 1550 E. Dundee Road, 7 p.m.
    5. February 17, 2000; Bellevue, Washington, at the DoubleTree 
Hotel, 300--112th Avenue S.E., 7 p.m.
    6. February 22, 2000; Bloomington, Minnesota, at the Minnesota 
Valley National Wildlife Refuge Visitors Center, 3815 East 80th Street, 
7 p.m.
    7. February 23, 2000; Brookings, South Dakota, at South Dakota 
State University, Northern Plains Biostress Laboratory, Room 103, 
Junction of North Campus Drive and Rotunda Lane, 7 p.m.
    8. February 28, 2000; Richmond, Virginia, at the Virginia 
Department of Game and Inland Fisheries Headquarters, Board Room, 4000 
West Broad Street, 7 p.m.
    9. March 1, 2000; Denver, Colorado, at the Colorado Department of 
Wildlife, Northeast Region Service Center, Hunter Education Building, 
6060 Broadway, 7 p.m.
    At the scoping meetings, you may choose to submit oral and/or 
written comments. To facilitate planning, we request that those 
desiring to submit oral comments at meetings send us their name and the 
meeting location they plan on attending. You should send this 
information to the location indicated under the ADDRESSES caption. 
However, you are not required to submit your name prior to any 
particular meeting in order to present oral comments.
    You may also submit written comments by either sending them to the 
location indicated under the ADDRESSES caption or sending them 
electronically to the following address: canada__gooseeis@fws.gov. All 
electronic comments should include a complete mailing address in order 
to receive a copy of the draft EIS. All comments must be submitted by 
March 30, 2000.

References Cited

Kelly, J. R., D. F. Caithamer, and K. A. Wilkins. 1998. Waterfowl 
population status, 1998. U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Department 
of the Interior, Washington, D.C. 33 pp. + app.
Nelson, H. K. and R. B. Oetting. 1998. Giant Canada goose flocks in 
the United States. Pages 483-495 in D. H. Rusch, M. D. Samuel, D. D. 
Humburg, and B. D. Sullivan, eds. Biology and management of Canada 
geese. Proceedings of the International Canada Goose Symposium, 
Milwaukee, WI.
Sheaffer, S. E. and R. A. Malecki. 1998. Status of Atlantic Flyway 
resident nesting Canada geese. Pages 29-34 in D. H. Rusch, M. D. 
Samuel, D. D. Humburg, and B. D. Sullivan, eds. Biology and 
management of Canada geese. Proceedings of the International Canada 
Goose Symposium, Milwaukee, WI.
Wilkins, K. A., and E. G. Cooch. 1999. Waterfowl population status, 
1999. U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Department of the Interior, 
Washington, D.C. 33 pp. + appendices.
Wood, J. C., D. H. Rusch, and M. Samuel. 1994. Results of the 1994 
spring survey of giant Canada goose survey in the Mississippi 
Flyway. U.W. Co-op Unit. 9 pp. (mimeo).


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    Dated: December 23, 1999.
Thomas O. Melius,
Acting Director, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.
[FR Doc. 99-33961 Filed 12-29-99; 8:45 am]
BILLING CODE 4310-55-P