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Archive for Thursday, June 4, 1998

BUSTLE

June 4, 1998

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So far, families of geese that have been crossing a major highway near Lawrence have been lucky, officials said.

The honking on a highway southwest of Lawrence is coming from more than cars these days.

At least three families of geese are regularly crossing the South Lawrence Trafficway southwest of the city.

So far, there have been no reports of the birds being struck by cars,.

``It's pretty uncommon for geese to be crossing a highway,'' said Jim Dunn, assistant supervisor of law enforcement for the Kansas Department of Wildlife and Parks.

``I can't really say we've had any reports of ducks or geese being hit, but I don't doubt that it occurs,'' he said.

``It sounds like they've been ... lucky,'' he said.

The area where the birds are crossing is located between the Youth Sports Inc. soccer fields and a gravel road that runs between the trafficway and Wakarusa Drive.

``I was driving down the road and boom, there they were,'' said Lawrence resident Richard Hird. ``They kind of stand there and wait on traffic. Maybe people can become aware that they're here. I'd hate to see them get hit.''

Douglas County Sheriff's Lt. Don Crowe said deputies haven't received any reports or complaints about the birds. They also have not responded to any car-goose accidents, he said.

Richard Johnston, curator emeritus of ornithology at Kansas University's Museum of Natural History, said the birds likely are crossing the road in order to feed.

``They may have eaten themselves out of food where they've nested,'' he said.

The birds often travel to areas with water, such as wetlands, to feed on plant material, he said.

Johnston said it is also likely that both the adults and goslings are unable to fly.

The goslings haven't fully developed, he said, and the adults have molted their flight feathers this time of year.

Geese, like eagles and some other birds, mate for life, Johnston said.

``There is an intense family orientation that they have,'' he said.

Dunn said that motorists should be aware of the geese mainly during daylight hours. There are approximately 20 birds in the area.

``At night they like to go near water or on an island in a body of water,'' he said.

Dunn said he wasn't sure if Kansas has yellow ``goose crossing'' signs, similar to deer crossing signs.

-- Mike Dekker's phone message number is 832-7187. His e-mail address is mdekker@ljworld.com.

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