September 18, 2009

Goose population booming in Finland

Finnish researchers said the country is working to decrease the health risks from a boom in the barnacle goose population.

The researchers said the number of barnacle geese in Finland totaled 14,200 at last count, with 8,600 of the birds in the Greater Helsinki area, the Helsingin Sanomat reported Friday. The Helsinki-area goose population represents a 12 percent increase from autumn 2008.

Markku Mikkola-Roos, a senior researcher with the Finnish Environment Institute, said hunting the geese is illegal in Finland and would not be an effective solution because of their tendency to gather in urban areas.

Mikkola-Roos said officials in Helsinki and other areas are using fences, repellents and intimidation to keep the birds from spreading feces in heavily populated areas.

The birds are expected to begin migrating in October, but experts said many of the geese have been remaining for weeks longer in recent years, with some spending the entire winter in Finland.