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March 26, 2012

Plan Ahead to Make Peace with Canada Geese

Know what's on the goose behavior calendar when designing a plan

  • Canada geese are generally monogamous and many stay together for life.  John Hadidian/The HSUS

  •  By the time they are two or three years old, Canada geese will have found a mate and built their first nest. Many stay together for life. Maggie Brasted/The HSUS

  • After 28 days of incubation, the goslings hatch and their parents lead them to water (sometimes a journey of a mile or more!). Janet Snyder/The HSUS

There is no single quick fix that will resolve human-goose conflicts at every site. But well-designed programs can make a major difference.

It isn't possible (or even desirable) to eliminate geese from a community. The goal is to reduce conflicts to an acceptable level.

So, solutions need to address the specific conflicts and the sites on which they are occurring—not attack all geese generally.

GeesePeace, an organization dedicated to building better communities through innovative, effective, and humane solutions to wildlife conflicts, has developed an effective template that communities can adopt. This template includes three key steps:

Addling Eggs to Limit Flock Growth »
Humanely Scare Geese Away »
Changing Habitat to Keep Geese Away »

Prior planning

Your plan needs to take the calendar of goose behavior into account. To be effective, each step should be done at the biologically appropriate time.

For example, attempting to harass geese off a site when they are nesting, rearing flightless goslings, or molting (which renders them unable to fly) will frustrate people and cause geese unnecessary stress. It won't cause geese to leave, because they cannot.

Effective plans work by combining two or three key components. After the nesting season, if they are not tied to flightless goslings, adults can be harassed away from preferred foraging sites before summer brings large numbers of people outside. And clearing open spaces of goose flocks—and their droppings—prior to the mid-summer molt eliminates the most significant conflicts.

Chart your course

This chart shows the typical timing for resident Canada goose populations in eastern and mid-western areas. For other locations, timing may vary somewhat, but the sequence will be the same. Effective goose management programs typically follow a seasonal timeline:

December to March: Organize community, identify likely nesting sites, and develop a plan.
February to March: Train volunteers or employees to addle.
Late March and April to early May: Locate nests and addle eggs.
Mid-May to Mid-Summer (up to molt): Harass adult geese so they leave the site.
Late June to August: Geese are molting and unable to fly, so they must stay where they are. No harassment. Repellents may be effective to protect specific areas as long as tolerance zones are left.
Fall: Resume harassment, if needed.
February to March: If harassment was resumed in fall, stop it while geese establish nest sites. You want to know where the nests are so you can addle. Harassing geese away from nest sites can result in goslings hatched nearby who contribute to the overall population and interfere with pre-molt harassment.

Resources

» Schedule a Canada Goose Egg Addling Training workshop in your community.
» Guide to Canada Geese shows step-by-step how to humanely deal with "nuisance" geese.
» Living with Wild Neighbors in Urban and Suburban Communities: A Guide for Local Leaders gives elected officials and other decision-makers the tools to implement long-lasting, nonlethal solutions to community wildlife conflicts.
» Humane Wildlife Services works to resolve homeowners' conflicts with wild neighbors.
» Our Wild Neighbors book offers a detailed look at urban wildlife species and how to peacefully coexist with them.

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