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'Invasive Pests'



As always, I was delighted by Talia Rose's photos ("Wild 2.0," Feb. 9). As a wildlife photographer myself, I appreciate the patience, focus (no pun intended) and equipment required to get such shots. However, I can't share her appreciation of the burgeoning Canada goose population in the Eel River valley.

Canada geese, just like wild pigs and turkeys, are not native to Humboldt County. They were introduced here in the 1980s and 1990s, mostly transplanted to the coast from a Nevada flock by the California Waterfowl Association and California Department of Fish and Game (now Fish and Wildlife). From an initial cohort of under 1,000, the Humboldt population now numbers close to 5,000. To quote the late Dr. Stanley Harris, "When they were passing out the adaptability sauce, these crowded to the front of the line with their cups held right-side-up!"

Although their detrimental impacts may not be as blatant as those of pigs, transplanted geese foul (again, no pun intended) water, harming fish and aquatic invertebrates, and compete with native waterfowl for food and nest sites. Municipalities and private interests spend millions of dollars annually to curb their growing goose populations; a colleague of mine in the Bay Area makes a living destroying Canada goose eggs. The Nevadans were more than happy to share their geese with us.

Humboldt's Canada geese should be recognized for what they are: invasive pests. At the risk of being a killjoy (it certainly wouldn't be the first time), I'm afraid the Eel valley's goose population boom is yet another indication that our natural environment is unraveling.

Ken Burton, McKinleyville

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