But for farmers, the issue is not just one of aesthetics but of economics. Now, a coalition of New Jersey farmers is pushing to expand the hunting season for sportsmen.
"They lay eggs at such an unbelievable clip," said Tom Beaver of the New Jersey Farm Bureau. "With the international flyways, there's so many layers of regulation."
The problem, wildlife officials say, is that there are two groups of almost identical Canada geese with very different populations. And while the resident Canada geese might be overpopulating the region, the migratory groups that fly down from Hudson Bay each winter remain sensitive to overhunting, said Chris Dwyer, a biologist with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.
"There are genetic tests, but it's very difficult to tell them apart in the field," he said. "It's the migrant Canada geese that aren't doing as well. They're more susceptible to changes in spring conditions in the higher latitudes."
But resident Canada geese, most of which live here year-round, are thriving. With few predators and a mild climate to nest in, they've been growing at a rate of about 1 percent per year over the last decade. New Jersey has about 80,000 resident Canada geese, according to the state.
And the recent rash of severe winters, with heavy snowfall covering parks and golf courses, has shrunk the amount of grass available to geese and made fields of winter wheat a popular buffet for birds from all over.
"There will be 500 of them out there," said Barrett Quick, a 59-year-old farmer in Hillsborough. "It's a two-hour project in the morning and two hours in the afternoon. If it's a rainy day, I'll have to go three times a day. You have no idea how pissed off I am."
But the health of the migratory geese, which are the subject of a long-standing international conservation treaty among the United States, Mexico, and Canada, makes any change to hunting regulations a tough sell.
New Jersey maintains 45 days of goose hunting between Sept. 1 and March 10, with an additional month-long period in certain parts of the state.
Dwyer and other wildlife officials are reluctant to expand the season, pushing instead for population-control measures to reduce resident but not the migratory geese.
They encourage farmers to apply for degradation permits, which allow them to destroy nests and eggs and kill a limited number of geese on their property, and to work with hunters, allowing them into their fields.
"Without public involvement, it's going to be difficult to accomplish any reduction in the resident Canada goose population," Dwyer said. "The agencies can't do the work."
But some farmers are reluctant to take on the task. The permits cost a couple of hundred dollars a year, and short of hiring a posse, the farmers are limited in how many birds they can kill; once the first shot rings out, the geese are airborne.
And for farmers like the Kumpels, who live near nonfarming types, running around with a shotgun isn't exactly considered neighborly behavior.
"We don't want to kill them all. We don't want the people to think we're bad," Roger Kumpel said. "But we're losing our crops out here. We need to do something, but we want to do it right."
Contact staff writer James Osborne at 856-779-3876 or email@example.com.