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New bill would allow geese to be shot without a permit

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Farmers could soon shoot geese without a permit.

Under a new bill introduced at the state capitol, people could take geese without permission if the birds are causing damage, such as feeding on crops.

But farmers and Minnesota Department of Natural Resources (DNR) officials differ as to how much the legislation would actually help.

"It's a native bird that's a magnificent bird," said Ken Varland of the Minnesota DNR.

It's also a bird that can do significant damage to crops. Just ask Adam Knewtson.

"What happens is they (geese) just go along and they just mow them (crops) off, like a lawnmower," Knewtson said, who farms just south of Mankato "Everything gets mowed off and the crop is dead . I've seen them mow off as much as 20 acres. And if you're looking at $500 to $700 dollars an acre input, that's a lot of money."

Under newly-proposed legislation, people such as farmers would be able to shoot geese without a permit if they're causing damage.

"I think it's a good thing," said Knewtson.

Right now permitting is issued through the DNR, with authorization from the federal government.

"Last year in this region, we issued 48 permits...that's probably the highest number we've ever issued," said Varland.

While the DNR says they have some concerns about this proposed legislation, some farmers say this bill would provide some key benefits.

"It's not necessarily a benefit as it is something that we're able to do to control our losses," said Knewtson.

But Varland says shooting geese is not the long-term answer.

"You need to have something that's actually going to prevent that damage, that's where the fencing comes in."

But Knewtson says, fencing does not work in every situation.

"Scaring them off doesn't really work, and you know fencing works in some areas but not all," said Knewtson.

The DNR says they do provide cost sharing on fencing up to $1,000.

The DNR says Canada geese were at one point thought to be extinct.

Officials also are concerned about overshooting of the geese population with the newly-proposed bill.