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March 26, 2012

Humanely Scare Away Canada Geese

Frightened or annoyed geese are more likely to move elsewhere

Adapted from the book Wild Neighbors

  • The best technique for scaring geese away is to use a trained dog and handler. John Hadidian/The HSUS

  • These “scary balloons” may keep geese away for a short time but before you know it, they learn they’re not a real threat. Linda Reider/The HSUS

  • Coyote or dog decoys won’t scare geese away for long unless they are moved frequently. Even then, geese may become used to them. Jen Mabee/The HSUS

  • Propane cannons and other noisemaking devices can be effective for scaring geese away for a while. Linda Reider/The HSUS

Some ways to scare geese away work better than others. All work better where the landscaping makes geese wary, and much better where you have also addled or used contraception so geese are not tending flightless goslings. Until their young can fly at the end of summer, these aversive conditioning techniques are not a humane option.

They'll be dog-gone

The most effective way to scare geese away is with trained goose-herding dogs. Herding dogs convince geese they are not safe from predators. This should only be done by specially trained dogs working with a handler.

Dogs handled properly put geese in flight and the geese leave an area entirely. Handled improperly they may only put the birds in the water, where, if not pursued, they quickly learn the dog is not a real threat.

Dogs must never catch or harm geese. And dogs must be well-treated and kept safe on the job as the valued employees they are.

Don't attempt to scare away geese who are nesting, molting, or raising young! Plan ahead and find the best time of year to start.

Lasers and other light-emitting devices specially designed to scare birds are useful at dusk as geese are settling down for the night. Scaring birds away from night roosts means they will start their day elsewhere.

Another option for discouraging geese from areas is to use chemical repellents. These chemicals can be either be dispersed as a fog or sprayed on grass to keep geese away from high priority areas.

They're smarter than that

Geese lose their fear of simple scare devices, like those listed below, quickly. You may get some short-term relief, and if that's all you need, these may help. But for the most part, these scare devices have little lasting effect. Geese are simply smarter than that.

  • Flags, eyespot balloons, and Mylar® tape.
  • Floating alligator heads and dead goose decoys.
  • Fake owls and snakes, scarecrows, or other effigies, especially ones that don't move.
  • Coyote and other canine effigies or cutouts, with one possible exception. Where geese have learned to fear real coyotes or where trained goose-herding dogs are regularly working, fake canines may keep geese on their toes a little longer.  These work best when they are moved frequently and are on swivels so that they appear more real when moved by the wind.

Fear of noises

Frightening noises like those made by devices listed below can work a little better. But geese get used to noises quickly, especially in noisy neighborhoods and if the geese see no other reason to be scared. Frightening noises work much better if the geese see a mobile threat such as people shooing them or goose-herding dogs.

  • Pyrotechnics and propane cannons
  • Recordings of goose distress calls

Resources

» 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.
» Schedule a Canada Goose Egg Addling Training workshop in your community.
» 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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