An “aggressive” type of goose showing up in Arkansas is an unwelcome invasive species from Africa, and they’re spreading fast, state officials say.
Egyptian geese were “once popular in zoos and aviaries,” but some managed to escape and find a suitable home in the wild, according to the Arkansas Game and Fish Commission.
The geese have lately begun to increase in numbers in Arkansas, alarming state wildlife officials.
“They have the potential to devastate crop species, and compete with native waterfowl for resources,” the state says in a report.
“The species can become very aggressive and chase native waterfowl and wildlife from their habitats,” according to the state’s report. “Because they often live and breed near commercial poultry and wild waterfowl, Egyptian geese have potential to spread disease.”
State wildlife officials are working with the Arkansas Cooperative Wildlife Research Unit to figure out why their numbers are suddenly increasing, and how far the birds have spread. Populations are currently known to reside in northwest Arkansas and the Arkansas River Valley, officials say.
The species is native to central and southern Africa. Their striking appearance includes patches of beige, “dark brown, dark orange, black, and white,” the commission says.
“Distinctive dark brown patches surround its eyes,” the state says. “The beak is pink on top and black on the bottom.”
A solution to the spread of the birds was not mentioned in the report.
But hunters quickly stepped up on social media with questions about whether they could begun harvesting the geese for food.
An “open season for Egyptian geese” is currently not part of the plan, the state responded.
“Egyptian geese are not legal to take in Arkansas,” the commission wrote on Facebook. “Geese can only be taken during an open season, and we do not have an open season established for Egyptian geese.”
Plus, the department added, “they do not taste good.”