Superior commission supports goose roundup

With 56,000 pounds of rice in the water since 2012, the self-sustaining annual watergrass just didn’t catch on as organizers hoped it would.

Superior’s Park and Recreation Commission recommends the city give permission to use urban land to solve the problem by rounding up geese to stop the wild rice plant predators.

“The problem we are seeing is the geese are eating the plant to an extent that it will not be able to every year,” said Matt Steiger, the St. Louis River Area Area coordinator for the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resource . “We get good germination, good growth. The water quality and sediment appear to be right, and plants simply cannot reproduce. So we buy a lot of rice and put it in the water. “

Steiger estimates the project will cost about $ 1.2 million to restore 275 acres of wild rice below the Fond du Lac Dam in Allouez Bay in the waters of Minnesota and Wisconsin by 2025.

“It’s a significant effort,” said Steiger.

He said the sowing took place below the Fond du Lac dam, the wetlands near Clough Island, the upper bays near the Fond du Lac district and in Allouez Bay and is monitored annually.

“The germination biomass did not achieve the goals we were looking for, but most of these places initially had no rice,” said Steiger. “We see it grow. We see it germinate … emerge, but the problem is we don’t get a self-sufficient bed, largely due to the Canada goose predators. “

The Lake Superior National Estuarine Research Reserve was involved in investigating the problem. Stations were set up using wildlife cameras and water level monitoring to determine the source of the problem.

“Our water level is fine for wild rice,” said Deanna Erickson, the reserve’s director. However, she said geese rummage when the wild rice is ready to bloom and sow, damaging the plants before they can reproduce. She said if dense stocks of wild rice could be planted, the geese would be less likely to rummage the area.

“We have to bypass the geese first,” said Erickson. “We’re really stuck. We have been doing this for years and here we are. “

Steiger said a variety of methods were used to protect the rice beds, including egg addling, visual and physical deterrents like fencing, harassing the geese in kayaks, and placing swan bait.

“We don’t take it easy to easily round up and fatally remove geese or other species,” said Steiger. He said the effort, led by the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Animal and Phytosanitary Inspection Service, would likely come over the course of two days in June when geese are molting and not flying. He said efforts would be focused on sites where wild rice is being restored, not city parks, and will have an opportunity for the public to comment on the plan ahead of the roundup.

Erickson said if dense wild rice stocks could be planted, geese would be less likely to rummage in those areas.

The Supreme City Council will consider the recommendation on April 7th.

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