By: Carin Tunney

It was not the usual Tuesday morning at the office for Consumers Energy co-workers Pete Wyckoff, Will Marsrow and Chris Pickelmann. Rather, they spent the chilly summer morning going on a wild goose chase.

The trio worked alongside the Michigan Department of Natural Resources and other volunteers at the Karn and Weadock facilities near Bay City, to successfully band 215 Canada geese.

The DNR bands thousands of birds annually as part of a United States Geological Survey (USGS) effort to track information about these big birds.

Marsrow and Picklemann started the day with a gander around the sites. They scouted two flocks of waterfowl waddling in the grassy areas near the facilities. After the DNR arrived and a safety briefing was complete, they got to work.

“We found the first flock hanging out in some taller weeds and decided to go for it — back to get the troops and get set up,” Picklemann said. “The operation ran very smoothly, and I can tell they’d done this many times.”

The team formed a U-shape and gently nudged the geese toward plastic pens. The birds didn’t realize they were trapped until it was too late, he said.

Bird handlers recorded the sex and age of each goose, then gifted them a shiny “ankle bracelet” for their cooperation. The aluminum band is numbered and used to keep track of migration patterns, age and sex. Hunters report the tag number to the DNR when geese are harvested during hunting season.

Post tagging, each goose rapidly waddled off to rejoin its feathery friends – honking the whole way. (Why didn’t they fly, you ask? They don’t have wing feathers during early summer when they are raising their goslings.)

Canada geese are plentiful on the grassy landfill surrounding the plant. The lined and replanted landfill is great place to herd birds, said DNR wildlife technician Barry Sova. The restored area is a favorite nesting place, and they are healthy and clean.

“It is great to work with companies like Consumers Energy that are environmentally minded,” Sova said. “The reclamation of the ash areas will benefit the wildlife and will make a difference locally. These types of projects will allow Consumers Energy to be an example to other companies.”

“The project demonstrates our commitment to waterfowl and other wildlife,” said Pete Wyckoff, an environmental engineer for our environmental services team.

“All of our decisions and actions have an opportunity to provide additional positive benefits,” he said. “The capped landfill and maintenance mowing create ideal habitat for Canada geese to raise their broods. I’m grateful that we can use our restored lands to provide habitat for these geese and support important research on waterfowl migration.”

Our wildlife specialists also planted a large pollinator habitat at the site this spring that will bloom by late summer.