Flocks of migrating Canada geese (Branta canadensis) arrive in various regions within the United States to breed and nest from mid-May to midsummer. They seek grassy, open areas close to bodies of fresh water, which affords them refuge from predators. If you have a pond on your property, you’re a prime candidate for goose invasion. In addition to decimating lawns with relentless grazing, one of these birds’ most notable and distasteful characteristics is their habit of fouling the area. Adults may evacuate 28 times daily, peppering your lawn with up to 1.5 pounds of stinky, slimy goose poop per bird. You must harass the geese immediately and persistently. Shoo them away before they nest in late February to early April.
1 Refrain from feeding any wild geese throughout the entire year, and encourage your neighbors to do the same. Don’t give the birds another good reason to hang around your property in anticipation of free buffets. They flock to regions where the food is plentiful and the pickings are easy, and tend to cling more stubbornly to areas where people feed them deliberately. There’s plenty of juicy green grass along with tempting seeds available to them naturally in the wild, so geese are in no danger of starving to death if you don’t help them.
2 Set up motion-detection sprinklers prior to the spring arrival of Canada geese. The devices will startle the birds enough to flush them into flight. These geese will spend their days in open grassy areas near bodies of fresh water and roost on your lawn, boat docks or beaches at night. Scare and harassment tactics such sprinklers are most effective for geese that haven’t started to nest. Once nesting begins, you may not be able to convince them to leave until after they finish seasonal molting in late July.
3 Scatter 3-dimensional models or 2-dimensional cutouts of wolves, coyotes or dogs throughout your property. Geese are naturally fearful of predators such as wild canines and domestic dogs. Reposition the figures daily so they’ll seem more lifelike.
4 Install rotating or flashing strobe lights by nighttime roosting areas on your property. Activate them at dawn and dusk to disturb drowsy geese; turn the units off during daylight hours. The birds won’t appreciate such sleep disturbances and the strobes may scare them into finding more peaceful roosts elsewhere.
5 Position green or red laser units in roosting areas on your property. Turn the units on at dawn and again at twilight. These devices effectively frighten and annoy the geese and shoo them away from inappropriate roosting sites. If the geese are on a pond and natural light is low, have a little fun while you’re at it. Direct the laser beam onto a nearby tree or dock that the geese can easily see. Wiggle the unit vigorously to create frightening visual effects. This may be enough to send the birds packing for good.
6 Stand on the dock or at the water’s edge while the geese are on the pond during the day. Send a remote-controlled boat out to harass them and flush them off the water. If they attempt to land on the lawn, chase them away. Wave your arms wildly and yell as you approach them. Bang a metal spoon on an old pot. Pester and shoo the geese away at every opportunity. Leash your dog, if you have one, and bring it with you. Encourage the dog to bark and lunge threateningly at the birds. Do not allow the dog to harass the geese unsupervised or off-leash, however.
7 Reduce your lawn fertilizing or halt it altogether while geese are in the area. Don’t water any more than you absolutely have to. This minimizes the number and quality of the tender young shoots that geese prefer. Keep a 6-foot band of lawn around the pond edges completely unmowed. As the grass grows taller, it creates a barrier between the rest of the lawn and the pond, making your property less attractive to the birds. Tall grass between the food source and the water makes geese uneasy because they can’t see lurking predators.
8 Replace some lawn areas with planting materials other than grass. Leave patches of your property alone and allow them to grow much taller to naturalize the areas. This deprives the geese of the choicest foods.
9 Clutter up the water’s edge so the geese will be wary of their surroundings. They require a clear shot between your lawn and the water source, and are likely to leave an area that makes them nervous. Plant low, thick hedges and shrubs and tall grasses near the pond’s edge. Scatter some large rocks around. Add anything you like that may obstruct the view between your lawn and the water.
Items you will need
- Motion-detection sprinklers
- 3-dimensional models or 2-dimensional cutouts of wolves, coyotes or dogs
- Rotating or flashing strobe lights,
- Green or red laser units
- Remote-controlled boat
- Metal spoon
- Old pot
- Low, thick hedges
- Tall grasses
- Large rocks
- Alternate and reposition scare and harassment devices and as often as daily to persistently remind the geese that they’re not safe in your yard.
- While your family dog will probably give chase readily, it’s a violation of federal law for the pet to harm or kill a Canada goose. The most effective method of shooing geese away for good is with specially trained handlers and goose-herding dogs, usually border collies. These highly skilled canines are bred and meticulously trained to herd geese without harming them. Dogs that aren’t properly trained for this job succeed only in chasing the geese onto the water, where the birds know they’re safe from the predators. If your goose situation degrades to this point, contact wildlife officials in your area for appropriate referrals.
- These birds are large and can become aggressive, particularly while nesting and rearing their goslings. They don’t hesitate to deliver a wicked bite, which consists of a hard pinch followed by a painful twisting of flesh.
- Federal law prohibits harming or killing Canada geese without the permission of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. In addition, each state has its own requirements. Contact wildlife authorities in your area for state regulations regarding Canada goose permitting and removal regulations.
- The Humane Society of the United States: Canada Geese -- Living With Our Wild Neighbors in Urban and Suburban Communities
- Bay Nature: Holiday Seasons Come and Go, But Not the Canada Geese
- Michigan Department of Natural Resources: Canada Geese
- Minnesota Department of Natural Resources: Homeowner’s Guide to Goose Problems
- Virginia Cooperative Extension: Managing Wildlife Damage: Canada Goose (Branta Canadensis)
- GeesePeace: Site Aversions
- Organic Gardening: 8 Ways to Deal with a Goose Invasion
- The Humane Society of the United States: Humanely Scare Away Canada Geese
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