Appendix C: What to do with a complaint about protected wildlife species
Canada geese (Branta canadensis, several races)
There's an added twist to solving nuisance problems caused by Canada geese.
Some Canada geese migrate, while others remain as residents in New York year
round. Resident geese are not lazy birds that just woke up one day and decided
to stop migrating, they're actually a totally different population.
You need to know whether you're dealing with migratory Canada geese (Branta
canadensis, several races) or resident Canada geese (Branta canadensis
maxima) before you plan your strategy. For example, summer round-ups will
only work if you're dealing with a resident population because the migratory
geese will be in Canada all summer long. They look the same, so the best way
to tell them apart is to determine if they migrate or if they breed here. In
urban areas, the problem is probably caused by a resident flock, but migratory
Canada geese may cause problems in rural areas, and they may temporarily join
From 8–15 pounds. Males tend to be larger than females.
Signs of their presence:
- The bird itself is the most obvious sign. They are often seen flying in
- Sounds: The most familiar call is the honk, but they also make hinking,
hissing, and snoring sounds.
- Nest: Their bowl-shaped nest is about 1 1/2 feet in diameter, made from
plants, lined with goose down. Most nests are very close to water, almost
always within 150 feet of water. When choosing a nest site, Canada geese seek
a good view of the surrounding area. They prefer islands and peninsulas, but
may nest in unusual places such as on ledges or rooftops, in the woods or
- Droppings: A single goose produces a pound of droppings each day.
- Remember to ask your customers if the birds are seen all year long. Are
they around during the summer? Have they seen nests and young?
Primarily herbivores. They prefer tender young plants. In urban areas, they
usually graze on lawn grass but they also eats grains, cattails, pondweed, and
clover, and some small aquatic insects, snails, clams, and mussels.
Typical activity patterns:
Social style: Canada geese form strong social
bonds. They're usually seen with a mate, family group, or in a flock–rarely
alone. If nesting close together, it's common to see "gang broods":
2–20 adults followed by 20–100 goslings. They'll eventually separate into family
Daily activity: Diurnal.
Migrates? Yes, but it's complicated. Migratory
Canada geese migrate in the spring (from the U.S. to their summer breeding grounds
in Canada) and the fall (from Canada to their wintering sites in the U.S.).
Resident geese usually don't go far. They may migrate within the state in which
they were born, or fly to a neighboring state. But some resident geese, usually
young birds and those adults that didn't breed successfully, migrate to Canada
right before the molting period (early June). They remain there during the summer,
returning in September. This "molt migration" (first reported in the
late 1990s) can dramatically alter the approach to goose management.
Molting: Adult Canada geese molt each summer,
usually beginning in mid-June. They congregate in large numbers near ponds and
lakes, which provide a safe place to rest and feed, and the open water they
need to escape danger. Most adult Canada geese molt in the same place they chosen
for raising their young (although sub-adults, and adults that didn't breed successfully,
will often "molt migrate" as mentioned above). The molt lasts for
about a month and during that time, geese cannot fly. This is critical! This
is when it's easiest to capture Canada geese. Some techniques, such as barrier
fencing, may be highly effective during the molt (see "protect vulnerable
crops and sites").
Distribution in NY and the Northeast: Most everywhere.
Habitat: In urban areas, they prefer lawns next
to a body of water. Canada geese prefer fertilized lawns. They seek open areas,
so they have a good view of potential predators. They like mowed lawns, parks,
golf courses, industrial parks with ponds, and playing fields.
Territory and home range: Both parents are aggressively
territorial around their nest until the young hatch. Both parents will defend
their young until the goslings can fly, usually at about 10 weeks old.
Pair bonding style: Monogamous. They pair for
life. Canada geese usually begin breeding at 2–3 years old.
Breeding dates: Canada geese return to their
nesting areas in late February or March (as soon as the water opens up.)
Egg laying dates: Peaks in early April–early
Clutch size: 1 brood of 1–10 eggs, average
5. They don't begin incubating until all of the eggs are laid. Incubation takes
26–28 days. If the nest fails before the young hatch, they may renest.
Hatching: The eggs generally hatch within a period
of 8–36 hours. Within one day of hatching, the adults may move their brood
up to 2 miles away, seeking a grassy feeding area next to water, for safety.
Fledging dates: at about 10 weeks old.
Amount of time young remain with parents beyond fledging
date: They'll migrate with their parents in the fall.
Common nuisance situations:
Time of year: Any time of year. Severe problems
are often associated with their molt, when large numbers of geese may gather
on lawns that are next to water. Some birds will travel hundreds of miles to
a favored molting ground.
What are they doing?
- Large flocks may gather or nest in parks, playing fields, yards, or near
ponds or other water sources. Some people find the resulting piles of droppings
and the feathers disgusting, and avoid these public areas. The birds can be
quite noisy, too.
- Their droppings contain nitrogen, which can pollute ponds and lakes. Their
droppings may contain bacteria and viruses, but it's unclear whether they
transmit any diseases to people. However, when there's a lot of bacteria in
the water the health department may close beaches and swimming areas.
- Canada geese aggressively protect their nest sites and young, and may attack
pets, children, and adults.
- They may overgraze grass, causing large dead spots on lawns.
- They trample turf. In medium-heavy soils, this can cause the surface to
harden, which may stop other plants from growing and lead to erosion. Overgrazing
and trampling can change the habitat, which may harm other species that rely
on grassy fields.
- They eat farm crops, mostly grains. Heavy grazing can damage newly planted
alfalfa and grain fields. They may pull up or eat seedling corn.
- They may collide with airplanes, or be sucked into their engines, causing
- Disease risks: they can infect other birds with coccidoisis, avian influenza,
schistosomes, chlamydiosis, salmonella, and avian cholera. When Canada geese
concentrate in very large numbers, this risk increases dramatically. Canada
geese may also transfer salmonella to cattle. It's not known if they transfer
diseases or parasites to people.
Legal status in New York:
Federally protected migratory bird (under the Migratory Bird Treaty Act). In
New York, Canada geese are also a game species with a set season. Management
responsibility of Canada geese in New York is shared by the DEC, the U.S. Fish
and Wildlife Service, and USDA-APHIS Wildlife Services staff.
Federal and state permits are required if you are going to capture, handle,
or kill gulls or disturb their eggs or nests (if there are eggs or young in
the nest). The permits are issued to the landowner, not to a NWCO. A landowner
may chase or disperse geese at any time without a permit, as long as the geese
are not physically harmed.
Control techniques marked by this color (blue) require
a federal and state permit. Obtain the federal permit first. The US Fish and
Wildlife Service automatically sends copies of the permits they issue to the
DEC's Special Licenses Unit, so you don't have to do this. In most cases, once
the DEC has received the federal permit, it can approve the activities through
the existing general Canada goose permit.
Control measures that affect wetlands may require other permits. Those techniques
are marked by this color (orange). Contact the DEC
Bureau of Wetlands for information.
To apply for the federal permit, contact:
U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service
Region 5 Federal Permit Office
U.S. Dep't. of the Interior
PO Box 799, Hadley, MA 01035-0779
Allow 2 months for processing of the request. There is an application fee.
To read the regulations and apply online, see: www.permits.fws.gov/mbpermits/birdbasics.html.
Questions about controlling nuisance Canada geese should be directed to your
regional DEC wildlife staff or to Rich Chipman, State Director, USDA-APHIS-Wildlife
Services, 1930 Route 9, Castleton, NY 12033-9653. Call (518) 477-4837. Email:
Canada geese have a strong homing instinct. They will usually return to the
area in which they fledged, and use the same nesting and feeding grounds year
after year. That means that without any control, the local population will almost
certainly increase, and the problem is only likely to grow worse over time.
It's best to address problems when goose populations are low. Some techniques
that work for smaller populations fail with larger flocks; and most techniques
work better when populations are of low to moderate size. The best time to begin
your control activities is in the late winter—soon after the geese have
shown up, but before they start nesting. Plan ahead! You'll need about two months
to secure any needed federal and state permits.
Nuisance problems associated with Canada geese usually affect an entire community,
not just the residents of one property. The community may be willing to work
with DEC and USDA-APHIS-WS staff to craft a solution. NWCOs will sometimes be
hired to assist with aspects of the management plan.
Most long-term solutions to goose conflicts involve the use of several techniques
in combination, such as hazing, habitat modification, summer roundups, shooting,
egg addling, and persuading people to change their habits (most often, you must
convince them to stop feeding the geese). Don't rule out any technique that
may be feasible because every little bit may help. Persistence is critical in
goose management. Most of these techniques only work well with repeated applications.
The use of one technique by itself is less likely to work. Also, it may convince
the geese to move to another site where they may cause similar problems.
With a community-wide problem, long-term solutions usually involve lethal techniques
to stabilize or reduce the goose numbers, at least initially. (Nonlethal techniques
used by themselves may reduce the problem at an individual site, but this approach
rarely solves large scale problems.) The most effective way to reduce the size
of a flock is to remove adult geese. Canada geese can live for more than 20
years. A female goose may have more than 50 young during her lifetime.
Lethal measures can be controversial. As with any community-wide nuisance wildlife
problem, a public information campaign to explain management goals and methods
is usually critical to success.
How molt migrations may influence your strategy
One other major point to consider is the possible effect of molt migrations
on your goose management strategy. This behavior isn't consistent; in some areas
it's a big problem, but not in all.
If some birds in the flock you're trying to manage "molt migrate"
in early June, then they may be off-site when certain control techniques, such
as harassment and round-ups, have traditionally been most successful. In these
situations, it may take more than one year of round-ups to solve the problem.
However, at some sites, a molt migration might help solve the problem! How's
that? Perhaps geese only cause problems during the summer. If some of the birds
leave, that helps reduce the nuisance.
Here are options for goose management. Remember, start when the populations
are low, be persistent, and combine methods for a better chance of long-term
Reduce their food sources (especially young shoots of grass):
- If anyone is feeding the geese, persuade them to stop. Consider installing
signs at popular feeding sites such as public parks, that explain the problems
associated with these handouts.
- Make lawns smaller by leaving areas unmowed.
- Let grass grow to a height of 6" (right around the water's edge, it's
better to let plants grow as tall as they will). This makes it harder for
the geese to find the young grass shoots they like to eat.
- Reduce fertilizer use and stop watering lawns, to make the grass grow more
- Switch to grass and plant species the geese don't like to eat as much. They
tend to avoid tall fescue, periwinkle, myrtle, pachysandra, English ivy, hosta
or plantain lily, Eunymous, and ground junipers.
Lure them to another site:
If migrant geese are feeding on crops, or resident geese are damaging a certain
site, such as a park, you may be able to divert them to a different spot during
the time of year when they'd cause trouble at the vulnerable site. Frighten
them away from the vulnerable site, then lure them to an alternative area. Obviously,
you need a nearby site where the geese will be tolerated, and that site must
be attractive. This method won't work if people are feeding the geese at the
vulnerable site. It may even attract more geese. At your sacrificial site, keep
the grass well-mowed to make the field particularly attractive to the geese.
If there are many geese, they may trample the grass, which might cause them
to leave. If that's a problem, plant some clover, which is more resistant to
Protect vulnerable crops and sites:
- Offer an alternative gathering site, as described above.
- Install a grid of wires over the crop (described in the section, "Block
access to open water").
- Install fences. For small, high-use areas, such as a picnic site or play
area, this may be a terrific solution.
- Fences work best before the geese nest, and during the early summer, when
they're molting and can't fly. The fence must be long enough so the geese
can't walk around it. It can be made from many materials including welded
wire, chicken wire, snow fencing, silt fencing, corn cribbing, chain link,
netting, mylar tape, picket, or monofilament lines, or an electric fence.
These materials differ in their costs and durability.
- The mesh should be 3" or smaller, and the fence must be at least 30"
high. If dealing with really aggressive birds, switch to a fence that's 48–60"
- Fences may be even more effective when combined with a barrier of plants
- Monofilament lines (at least 20-lb. test): set on poles that are 6 feet
apart. Can use two lines, spaced at 7 and 12" above the ground, or five
lines, set at 4, 8, 12, 18, and 24" above the ground (the lower wires
deter goslings, too).
- Mylar tape: strands need support every 20 feet, secured with duct tape or
electrician's tape. Twist the tape at least once within that span.
- Electric fences: Usually, two strands of polytape or 10-gauge high-tensile
wire are attached to fiberglass or plastic posts at 8 and 16" above the
Frighten the birds away:
- If the geese aren't nesting, you may harass them without a federal or state
permit as long as the geese are not touched.
- Visual scare devices: the most effective ones include the Avian Dissuader®
(a laser); laser pointers; mylar tape or streamers strung along the water's
edge (leave some slack in the line and twist the tape, to make it noisier
and more reflective); and flagging or balloons on poles that are 6 ft. high
or taller, installed around the vulnerable area (make sure the materials don't
become tangled in tree branches or power lines.)
- Frightening noises: gunshots, sirens, air horns, and various pyrotechnic
devices (bangers, screamers, whistle bombs, shell-crackers, propane cannons).
- Hazing with dogs (especially border collies) or radio-controlled boats,
aircraft, or cars. Geese will not overcome their fear of being chased by dogs,
so this technique will not lose its effectiveness over time. However, it is
labor intensive and can be expensive. At first, the dogs must chase the geese
several times a day. Eventually, you can reduce the number of patrols. In
general, don't use dogs when the geese are nesting, molting, or have goslings.
Dogs may not be able to chase geese away from large areas of water, or properties
subdivided with fences. Roads can cause a problem, too. Don't let the dogs
herd geese into traffic.
- As always, use an unpredictable combination of frightening techniques.
NWCOs with a commercial pesticide applicator license:
- There are chemical repellents registered for use against Canada geese, but
results have been mixed. Methyl anthranilate (a nontoxic, biodegradable food
ingredient) may make grass taste bad to geese. The product is costly and needs
frequent application, so its use is best limited to small lawns. In New York,
if this product is applied within 100 ft. of a regulated wetland, you'd need
a permit from the DEC. Also, this repellent is intended to stop geese from
eating grass, not from using a site. If they're just loafing, it would be
useless. A second repellent, anthraquinone (Flight Control™), gained
registration in New York in 2003 for use on turf at airports, commercial sites,
landfills, dumps, and on golf courses. This product includes a chemical that
makes the geese sick. It also coats the grass with an ultraviolet stain, which
the birds can see, but people can't. The idea is that the geese learn to associate
UV-colored grass with a tummy ache, and avoid the area.
Block access to open water and the paths between the water and grassy areas
(both flight paths and walking paths):
- Geese like to rest on open water, or on the nearby shore, where they feel
safe from predators. If they're feeding on a lawn next to water, they tend
to take off and land on the water. Deny them access to that water, and they
may move away.
- Install a grid of wires above the water's surface to keep the geese from
landing on the pond (or on land). Can use #14 wire, 80–100-lb. monofilament
line, Kevlar®, twine, cotton rope, or mylar tape. Secure the wires 1–1
1/2 feet above the water, in parallel lines that are 10–15 feet apart.
Attach brightly colored rope, flagging, or some other marker to the wires
to keep the geese from flying into them. Install the grid before the geese
arrive. For more certain success, add a perimeter fence to keep the geese
from walking down to the water underneath the grid. Wire grid systems work
best on golf course ponds, reflecting pools, wastewater ponds, and newly seeded
lawns with limited public access. This isn't a practical method for ponds
that are used for swimming, fishing, or other recreation.
- Ropes can be strung between trees to block their flight paths and prevent
landing. Ropes should be loose enough to move in the wind, and highly visible.
Polypropylene rope and mylar tape have been used.
- With small ponds, tall trees in the flight path between the water and grazing
area may prevent geese from landing.
- Create a visual barrier along the shoreline, with plants or rocks that will
keep the geese from walking onto the land.
- Locate playing fields at least 450 feet away from water to reduce their
use by geese during the molting period. When the birds are unable to fly,
they're reluctant to leave the sites that have it all: open water with great
views (for safety) near grassy areas (for feeding, resting). When the geese
can fly, they'll use fields that are a mile away from water so this won't
give year-round protection to the fields.
- Install a fence around the pond, to keep geese from walking down to the
water. (See details under "protect vulnerable crops and sites.)
Reduce the number of favored nesting sites (islands and peninsulas with quiet,
- It's very hard to eliminate goose nesting sites, because they adapt to nesting
in some weird places. Certainly, you can make sure that you don't accidentally
create prime nesting sites for them while building or landscaping around ponds.
You may be able to prevent them from nesting at a site by harassing them in
the early spring. Try to block their path to the water or their line of sight,
which makes them nervous.
- In addition to the expected permits, you
may also need permits from the DEC Bureau of Habitat and the Army Corps of
Engineers to modify some protected waterways.
- Remove any artificial nest sites, such as platforms, tubs, and up-ended
- Plant (or protect) wetlands plants that grow along the shoreline, such as
cattails and bulrushes, which create a visual barrier that may prevent geese
from walking onto the land.
- Stop mowing grass along the shoreline.
- Eliminate islands and peninsulas that provide nesting sites
by flooding the pond or reducing the water level. This is usually the most
effective way to reduce the number of nesting sites, but it's expensive.
- Add boulders or shrubs every 10–20 yards along the shoreline
to block the pathway and their line of sight. The boulders should be at least
2 feet wide. Plants must be dense and tall enough (30 in.) to prevent the
geese from seeing through or over them. Shrubs, wildflowers, or prairie grasses
may provide an effective barrier. Wide plantings tend to work better than
narrow ones. A combination of a rock barrier with a hedge of thick plants
may be more effective. This method works best with smaller populations.
- Nest materials can also be removed to discourage nesting (works best in
small areas where the nests are easily found, and when labor is cheap or free).
This is a very labor intensive technique, requiring daily trips to the nest
sites, which can be hard to find, and hard to reach. Another problem is that
individuals within a flock may begin nesting during a period that lasts for
several weeks. It takes the birds about a week to build their nest, but once
it's done, they lay their eggs quickly—and once there are eggs, you'd
need a federal permit.
Reduce the amount of good winter habitat for the geese:
- Turn off fountains to encourage earlier freeze-up of ponds.
Control their reproduction by disturbing their eggs so they don't hatch:
- These techniques are most effective at keeping a small population small.
For example, if there are one or two pairs of geese on a pond and that's tolerable,
you may be able to maintain the status quo using these techniques. With larger
populations, these techniques are probably impractical because they're labor-intensive
and time-consuming. Also, you'd need to tamper with nearly every egg to ensure
success, and that grows more challenging with larger flocks.
- One disadvantage of these techniques is that if they take a long time to
work (10–15 years)—if they work at all. New birds might join the
flock, increasing the numbers you're trying to reduce. Birds that fail to
hatch eggs successfully might move to a new breeding area and cause a nuisance
there, so this approach might not be neighborly. Other lethal techniques,
such as hunting, will almost certainly work faster and more effectively.
- The techniques of oiling, addling, and puncturing eggs should be done as
early in the incubation as possible. They may require two trips to the nest
to treat any eggs laid after the first visit (so you'll have to mark the nests).
The second visit should be 7–10 days after the first trip. The male
goose will probably defend the nest more aggressively on the second visit,
so you may need a partner to fend off the gander. With all three methods,
after the eggs are treated, they are put back into the nest so the female
will continue incubating them. If the eggs are removed or destroyed, especially
early in the incubation, the geese may lay another clutch.
- Oiling eggs: Coating eggs with corn oil prevents gases from
passing through the shell, so the embryo suffocates. The eggs are either sprayed
with oil or dipped into a container of oil.
- Puncturing eggs: Use a barbeque skewer, turkey lacer, or sharpened
nail to pierce the embryo. The best place to make the hole is slightly off
center, on the bottom of the egg (opposite the point). The tool must be strong
enough to puncture the egg and long enough to reach the embryo. Don't crack
the egg, because that might cause the birds to lay more. One problem is that
the smell of the punctured eggs might attract predators, such as raccoons,
skunks, coyotes, foxes, and crows. Even if your actions are unnoticed, if
the geese realize that predators raided the nest, they may renest and lay
- Addling eggs: Addling, or vigorously shaking, the eggs, kills
the embryo. Many people choose oiling or puncturing eggs over addling because
it's easier to tell immediately whether the technique worked.
- If you intend to addle or puncture eggs, wait until the female's
been incubating for 1–2 weeks (mid- to late March in New York). By then,
she's well-established. She's less likely to re-nest and may be less biologically
able to lay eggs.
- Removal of eggs or replacement with dummy eggs: If it's
at least 18 days into the incubation, the eggs can probably be removed without
causing the birds to lay more eggs. Or the eggs can be replaced with dummy
eggs (wood or plastic eggs, or real eggs that are unfertilized or hard-boiled).
This is simpler than oiling, addling, or puncturing eggs. It only requires
two visits to the nest: once after all the eggs have been laid (sometime after
the first week of incubation) to place the dummy eggs, and then later to retrieve
them. You may need a partner to defend from the gander. The geese tend to
continue incubating the dummy eggs.
- Once the geese are off the nest, try to move them. If there are no goslings,
you can harass them with such techniques as hazing. If there are immobile
young or goslings, you cannot harass them without federal and state permits.
Allow hunting (during the legal Canada goose season):
- Hunting is one of the most cost-effective ways to reduce goose populations.
In addition to directly removing some adult birds, it may scare off others.
Hunting also increases the effectiveness of noisemakers, because the birds
learn that some loud noises really mean trouble.
- Hunters must have a state small game hunting license, the federal Migratory
Bird Hunting Stamp, and be registered in the Harvest Information Program.
They must have the landowner's permission, be in an area that permits hunting,
and hunt only during the legal season for Canada geese.
- Even in areas where hunting is prohibited, a controlled hunt may still be
possible. This has been done successfully on golf courses, for example. Such
controlled hunts may require variances to local laws.
- Hunting is also an effective way to target the specific birds that are causing
the problems. How's that? Most goose problems are associated with resident
geese, not migratory ones. Although you probably can't tell the two apart
by looking at them, you don't need to because the migrants
leave. In September, hunting is allowed in most areas in New York.
Chances are superb that geese removed in that hunt are resident birds, because
very few migratory geese would still be around. (In some areas, hunting is
also allowed later in the fall and winter, with stronger restrictions.)
Remove the birds using direct capture methods (the birds are usually killed
- If you're only dealing with a few birds, you may be able
to catch them with a dip net or use a super-sized duck funnel trap with grain,
corn, or oat bait. Contact your regional wildlife staff for information about
using the duck trap.
- In the early summer when the geese are molting
and can't fly, the adults can be easily herded into a holding pen. This is
called a "round-up." The pen (a moveable fence made of netting)
is set on dry, flat land, usually about 20 yards from the water. It should
be 4 feet tall, made of snow fence or plastic or cotton net, supported every
5–10 feet with poles. The side facing the water should have V-shaped
"wings" that funnel the birds into the pen. People in canoes or
boats herd swimming geese toward the capture area. Then others walk slowly
behind the geese with outstretched arms, herding the birds into the pen. Once
the geese are in the pen, the open side is closed. The birds can then be handled.
Young should be removed first, because if there are many birds in the pen,
they might be trampled. In most cases, birds that are rounded up are then
killed. Remember, if some of the birds migrated just before the molt period,
you may need to return the next year to conduct another round-up.
- Cannon nets can capture many geese at once.
Generally, a large, open area is baited with grain. Once enough geese are
feeding, the net is fired over the flock. The birds are then hand-captured.
(The nets are propelled by explosives, so you may need to check local noise
- USDA-APHIS-WS staff can capture geese using an immobilizing
agent, alpha-chloralose (a highly restricted drug). The drug is usually put
in a bread bait, which the birds eat. It may take 1 1/2 hours to sedate the
birds. This product can't be used during, or one month before, goose hunting
season. Local, state, and federal permits are required.
Preferred killing methods:
- Follow the conditions of your federal permit.
- Gunshot (using a a shotgun with nontoxic shot)
- Carbon dioxide chamber
- Stunning and decapitation
- Commercial poultry processor
Acceptable killing methods:
- Cervical dislocation
Control strategies that don't work particularly well, or aren't legal in New York:
- Ultrasonics don't work. Birds can't hear them.
- Installing a fountain or aerator in the pond won't work well, and it may
actually attract geese to the area. (Ouch!)
- Dead goose decoys or swan decoys haven't worked well, especially with resident
- Scarecrows don't scare them, either.
- Joggers on paths along the shoreline are supposed to scare geese away, so
some sources suggest that you add a jogging path to an area. Think about this
for a minute. Are these geese afraid of people? Probably not. This is an expensive
technique and it hasn't worked well in many areas.
- Birds of prey are used to chase other birds, but we don't know if this works
to scare away Canada geese. Right now, it's also impractical because there
just aren't enough trained falconers around.
- Another technique that works well for other birds is the use of distress
calls, but we don't know if this works with geese, either.
- Releasing swans to keep Canada geese out of ponds is a bad idea.
Swans are aggressive and territorial, and have even driven geese off their
nests, but the swans may cause worse problems than the geese. Swans and geese
like the same habitats, so the presence of swans might even attract geese.
- In the past, geese were captured and moved to new locations, sometimes even
in different states. No more. We're full up. There are no known areas in New
York that would welcome problem geese, and other states can't take them, either.
Although relocating young geese without their parents did work in some cases,
moving adult geese usually doesn't work because they tend to return to their
- Some communities might want or be willing to tolerate a certain number of
geese, but not a breeding population. One suggestion was to create a single-sex
flock for that area. Unfortunately, creating and maintaining a single-sex
flock is difficult and costly. The birds must be captured and examined carefully
to tell their gender. Then, all members of one gender must be killed or moved.
But adult geese tend to return to their birth sites, and other geese might
join the single-sex flock. This is a high-maintenance approach that has not
- Vasectomy (surgical sterilization) of male Canada geese is expensive. It's
possible that the treatment changes the behavior of the goose. If other, fertile
male geese mate more successfully than the neutered males, the technique would
only work well if many geese received vasectomies.
- The USDA National Wildlife Research Center is studying
the use of birth control drugs for birds.
- In a variation of the "sacrificial site" technique, bait (loose
grain) is provided to lure the geese to the sacrificial site. Some sources
suggest that a lure crop, such as Kentucky bluegrass or grain, actually be
planted at that site. These preferred foods may draw the geese away from the
vulnerable site, but you could end up attracting other geese, too. Also, how
would you persuade people to stop feeding the geese at other sites, if they
know you're feeding them? This is not recommended.
- There are no poisons registered in New York for use against Canada geese.