Egyptian geese are invading Central Texas; should they be removed?

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AUSTIN (KXAN) – New efforts are underway to remove an invasive species of water fowl, the Egyptian goose, from Central Texas. Earlier this year, the San Antonio River Authority announced plans to begin trapping and euthanizing the geese in its area. They have since cancelled these plans and are looking for other options.

Now, the city of Marble Falls is enacting its own plan to trap and relocate the birds. In a message posted on Facebook, the city said it had received several reports of the birds infesting Johnson Park. It plans to place the captured geese in a zoo in the greater Austin area.

Marble Falls Animal Control officer Jacey Ferguson told KXAN that the decision came after the geese had arrives after flooding last October. After their arrival, Animal Control saw the number of native ducks that were hatching decrease.

What are Egyptian Geese?

The Egyptian geese originated in the Nile River Valley but were brought to the United States in the last century. They were used as decoration in private ponds and aviaries, but then escaped into the wild. First reports of wild Egyptian geese breeding were recorded in the 1960’s. Since then, they have taken up residence in climates similar to the Nile River Valley, like Florida and areas in Texas.

Egyptian geese are highly territorial. They’ve been witnessed in dog fights with other birds and even attacking drones. Outside of pushing native bird populations out of an area, there have also been reports of damage to crops in their native country. However, the economic impact of the damage hasn’t yet been quantified.

Do Egyptian geese need to be exterminated?

Not necessarily. In 2011, bird watchers across Texas gathered data on Egyptian geese. They reported their findings to Dan Brooks, Curator of Vertebrate Zoology at the Houston Museum of Natural Selection. In a statement Brooks said:

“The territorial nature of Egyptian Geese may actually deter colonization of other species of non-native waterfowl, such as giant Canadian geese, prone to population explosions in more northerly states.”

In short, Egyptian geese are not great for Texas birds, but could keep other invasive species out. The same research found that the geese seemed to be living in harmony with smaller birds in Texas lakes.

Editor’s Note: This story has been updated with new information regarding the San Antonio River Authority’s decision to cancel planned euthanasia.

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