On Thursday, two groups of hunters took in a total of 40 geese for the first of three Alpena goose hunts this year.
One group sat behind tires at the fairgrounds while luring the geese in by using decoys and goose calls. “We try to mimic what they see or, actually, what I see when I drive through here prior to the hunt,” said Don Gilmet, one of the organizers of the hunt. “Sometimes the geese land when we call them, and sometimes they fly overhead, look down, and say ‘no thank you’ and they go.”
The annual goose hunt has been subject to controversy in the area with some saying it’s not right to kill these birds. However, in a 3-2 vote, the city decided it was necessary to control the population. “Part of the importance of control is, when there does get to be too many, disease sets in, there’s competition for food, and there’s competition for nesting sites,” Gilmet said. “It’s all part of the natural cycle.”
One of the other main reasons for the hunt is the mess the geese leave behind. Droppings and feathers can be found around local ball fields and beaches. However, some people don’t believe that’s reason enough to have the birds killed. “A lot of the controversy seems to be you know ‘I moved up north for the up north experience and see the wildlife’,” said Gilmet. “Well, I was born up north as most of the people in Alpena and surrounding counties. Part of our heritage is hunting.”
Gilmet wants to clarify that after the hunt, none of the geese go to waste. “They’ll all be processed,” he said. “The guys will split them up. Some of the guys barbecue them. Mine, I usually make tacos or goose enchiladas with them. Some of the guys will take them, when they get about 15 or 20, to the Marine Market, and get them turned into sausage for deer season.”
The remaining two goose hunts will take place on September 14 and 21.