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Geese wreak havoc on farmer's wheat fields

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LAWTON, Okla._Birds are often known to fly south for the winter, but local farmers said unfortunately for them the Canadian goose has not flown far enough.

Tens of thousand of  Canadian geese made their homes right here in Lawton, flocking to wheat fields for food and wreaking havoc for farmers and their wheat crops.

Farmers said these geese used their beaks to pluck the wheat straight of the ground...roots and all; costing them  thousands of dollars each year.

Farmer Josh Sullivan said just Friday, his family's wheat field was covered with 20 to 30 thousand geese.

He said the pesky birds could cost his family and other farmers everything they have worked for this year.

"They're completely eating the crop off down to the roots. With the cold temperatures we're having, there's a good possibility of freezing, which would be a total loss of the crop," said Sullivan.

And no wheat means no money.

"You know, this field right here would normally profit you around 5,000 dollars a year, which would go to your other agriculture payments, your land payments, lease payments, and with that cost being lost, it's going to have to come from somewhere else," said Sullivan.

Josh Sullivan of Sullivan farms said before the geese arrived, the field looked green and healthy.

After the geese came to town, they left the fields baron and destroyed.

There were only small patches of green winter wheat that remaining and Sullivan said the same story for at all of his wheat fields.

Sullivan said the worst part is that the city will not allow him to solve the problem.

"Last year we were threatened with lawsuits doing control with the birds with a propane cannon which does not kill the bird, it just scares them off. The citizens of Lawton didn't understand that, and with the police the way they are they have to enforce the laws...which is a noise ordinance," said Sullivan.

And because the birds were at one time on the endangered species list, they are now federally regulated.

So the state's hands are also tied.

Sullivan said it would literally take an act of congress to get a handle on the geese problem.

He says until then, his livelihood along with other farmers will continue to suffer or worse disappear.

"This is something we rely on to make money. This is just a small part of the farming operation that we have but if you took 10-20% of someone's business in town and took it away from them and you had no ways to control it, how's they ever going to work?" said Sullivan.

Sullivan said the ponds at local parks or businesses surrounding his wheat fields made the problem worse because the geese are drawn to the water.

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