Post by Grant Kline
This comic represents an effective way to show a stakeholder group how new ideas can help solve an issue that current strategies are struggling to resolve. Specifically, this comic shows that by utilising different vegetation you can prevent geese from colonizing an area due to a lack of resources and an increase in predation potential.
Before the early 1900’s, specifically 1903 when Theodore Roosevelt was in office, people were not thinking about how to effectively maintain wildlife population levels. After 1903, when President Roosevelt set aside Pelican Island, Florida as a sanctuary and breeding ground for native birds, people started contemplating how to protect animals from human expansion and exploitation (Brown 2007; Hadidian et al. 2000). This progression towards wildlife conservation allowed people to realize the impact they can have on the species in their ecosystem, which ultimately led us to today’s notion that management programs are supposed to benefit humans and animals/plants rather than just benefiting humans.
Even though people understand that the world’s flora and fauna need to be protected, current management programs still lean towards primarily benefiting humans. For example, the use of pesticides in neighborhoods to manage nuisance insects, such as mosquitoes, is meant to lower their density levels so that the number of interactions with humans is reduced (Haddidian et al. 2000; Smith et al. 1999; Gosser et al. 1997). Although this is considered to be an effective management strategy for humans because there are less mosquitoes, it is not effective for wildlife since these pesticides will kill other non-nuisance insects, and can poison aquatic organisms when runoff washes the chemicals into nearby water sources.
As humans, we tend to think of how to benefit ourselves, but when it comes to management strategies, a conservation biologist needs to analyze current plans and figure out how to improve, replace or start a management plan that will benefit both animals/plants and humans. These plans need to benefit humans as well as animals or plants because a large percent of funding comes from the community and if they do not see any upsides to a new strategy, then it will not be implemented or successful due to lack of support and funding (Risien and Storksdieck 2018). Moving forward we will look at how to successfully construct a management proposal and plan by working though how to analyze and improve current Canada geese management plans. Specifically, we will look at how current management strategies of Canada geese are harming geese populations and how they are not effectively reducing population levels in public areas (Conver 1992; Conver and Kania 1991; Hadidian 2002; Preusser et al. 2008). From here we will dive into how to find new effective methods to manage Canada geese so that humans and geese are benefiting or not being drastically affected.
To start off composing a new management proposal you need to pre-research, or collect background information. When starting it is important to think about all the aspects of your topic. For instance things you can research about Canada geese could be conflict issues, habitat requirements, current management practices, nutritional requirements of Canada geese, etc (Swift 2000; Conover and Chasko 1985). Of course it will also be important to look at who this issue pertains to and why people should even care about the issue. From here we can form a research question that will help you determine who our stakeholder group is, and what you want the stakeholder group to do. In order to prepare for the main research question you should form smaller leading questions that help you come up with your main research hypothesis. Leading questions for Canada goose management could be “What are some Canada goose community health effects?”, “What non-lethal methods are being used to prevent geese from nesting in communities?”, and “What regulations are set in place in communities to control geese populations?”, which ultimately will lead to a research question similar to “How can the city council, community members and game and fish help start a non-lethal, non-invasive plan to prevent canada geese from populating the community?”.
Starting with a research question is important because it gives you insight on what the requirements of your issue is, and how current practices are inefficient. So, when looking at Canada geese we can see that they require access to water with a large open grassy area (Allan et al. 1995; Haddidian et al. 2000). This is because the geese need to be able to easily escape to the safety of the water, while they also desire shorter grass since it is easier for them to digest and more nutritious than the older grass that is longer. In addition, asking this research question will help us understand what management programs are currently being used and how effective they are. For Canada geese, harassment and egg addling are common management strategies, however we would also learn that these management techniques are only temporary solutions (Bell and Reed 2021; Varner 2014). Learning this helps give support for one’s proposal because it shows that there is potential for improvement and effectiveness with a new strategy. Since we learned that current management strategies are temporary, we need to consider why that is so when proposing so that the stakeholder group understands that we understand what we are researching, rather than stating something and having no information to back it up. For example when looking into it further, one might find out that current strategies are temporary because as soon as the geese are pushed out of an area, new ones can move into that space since it has desirable resources with little competition and over time the ones being pushed out will slowly start to move back to their territory.
When presenting, it is also important to provide evidence for your statement from multiple sources, especially if you are trying to convince people to change their views and current practices. In addition to understanding the drawbacks to the current strategies, you need to understand how the new plan you are proposing will be better. An alternative goose management strategy might be better than current strategies because it can reduce desirable food resources, and increase risk of predation (Haddidian et al. 2000; Smith et al. 1999; Gosser et al. 1997). Alternative management plans would include incorporating natural native vegetation, such as tall grasses, trees and shrubbery, back into the ecosystem while also placing boulders or other obstacles near waterways to lower water accessibility to geese. This would prevent geese from wanting to move in or continue occupying an area, thus reducing interactions with humans, it will reduce noise caused from harassment of geese and it does not lower populationlevels of geese (Cooper 1998; Swift, Chipman and Preusser 2009). Since this new proposal reduces stress on both humans and geese, it would be considered an effective management plan, because management strategies should not just help humans but rather help humans and animals live together without harming the animals population levels.
Once all of the research is done and the needed information is obtained, an effective delivery method should be given. The best way to do this is to analyze your end result to determine the best way to reach your stakeholder group so that they are interested and will work towards changing what they can. One delivery method for management alterations is to go to city council meetings to present your findings and proposal so that you can bring the issue to the community’s attention, while also posting your proposal to social media to further your outreach and potentially your support.
When an effective management strategy is set into place the outcomes should not have the potential of harming either humans or animals. In order to construct a propeller management plan that is efficient and effective enough for implementation, one needs to think of questions to research that revolve around the subject of interest so that they can form a research question. Once a research question is formed they need to break it down to determine the best way to reach their target stakeholder group. One of the simplest ways to do this is by pointing out the downsides to current management strategies being used and explaining how your new management proposal works to lower or eliminate the number of drawbacks current programs are causing. Finally, management strategies are not only meant for humans but are also meant for animals and, when it comes to goose management, by incorporating natural strategies you are thinking of both the humans and the wildlife.
Grant is a student at the University of Wyoming in the Department of Zoology and Physiology with a minor in photography.
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