Wild Times: A great comeback!

I have been doing it for years now. I really don’t see it ending either. In fact, just this evening I was feeding cattle and I did it again. It has become a habit that I just cannot break. All it takes is the sound of a Canada goose calling as it is in flight, and my head will automatically turn to find the source of the sound. I just cannot help myself.

Although I have been watching them fly around the area for the last 30 years, the sight of a flock moving across the sky is mesmerizing. It wasn’t always that way, though. From what I have read, the Canada goose was nearly hunted to the point of extinction during the early 1900s. Not only was it hunted but the nests of these geese were robbed of their eggs. It was not until the late 50s and early 60s that the first restoration projects for the Canada goose began in the state of Kansas.

As a youngster roaming the countryside, I don’t recall ever seeing a Canada goose. I saw plenty of snow geese but the sighting of a Canada goose was a rare event. When I was a sophomore at Kansas State, one of my roommates was from Norton. We headed to Norton for a weekend of pheasant hunting.

On the trip to Norton, we drove past the Kirwin National Wildlife Refuge. This was the first time in my life that I got to see thousands of Canada geese. This happened to be the area, along with the Cheyenne Bottoms, that the first restoration projects for the geese were established. Those geese were beautiful and looked so stately and regal.

Even though there were plenty of geese at Kirwin, the geese were still not in our corner of the state. Around 1980, the Kansas Fish and Game Commission began to relocate birds across the state into different areas. Between 1980 and 1989, more than 10,000 birds – young and old – were released across the state, and the comeback of the Canada goose was underway.

One of my hunting buddies shot a Canada back in 1982, and that was the first bird that I ever saw shot in this area. In the fall of 1983, I made a trip to Iowa for a shot at harvesting a Canada goose and finally knocked one out of the sky. I was hooked. A couple of years later, the numbers of Canada geese in our area increased dramatically. All of the sudden, we had enough birds in the area to hunt.

This year’s season for hunting Canada geese will begin on Nov. 8 and will run until Feb. 18, 2018. The daily bag limit for these geese is six, and the possession limit is 18. Something a lot of people don’t realize is that there are seven sub-species of Canada geese across the nation. The goose that every hunter wants to knock out of the sky is the sub-species known as the Giant. This is a goose that we have in our area and can weigh up to 20 pounds. That is one big bird! We also have a couple of the smaller sub-species in the area, as well, and those geese can weigh as little as six pounds.

What has transpired over the years in our area now is that we have gotten to the place that we now have resident geese that stay here all year long. We have so many geese in our state that in some places they are becoming a nuisance. This occurs when the geese make golf courses and parks their places of lounging.

Who would have thought the restoration of this species would have been so successful? All I know is that, as a hunter, I am very thankful that we have such a large number of birds at our disposal. Indeed, the comeback of the Canada goose is an amazing success story.

Tim Kellenberger137 Posts

Tim Kellenberger serves as Owner, Publisher and Editor-in-Chief for The Sabetha Herald since 2004. He specializes in sports reporting and column writing, as well as sports photography. Tim is a Grace University graduate with a dual degree in agricultural economics and human resource management. He lives in rural Sabetha with his wife and has four grown children and two grandchildren.

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