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CANADA GEESE PROBLEMS


Those who have spent very much time near a lake, pond or a river in past years, realize Canada geese are becoming a real problem. Once they pick a spot, they like to take up residence or return to the same nesting spot every year.


In one year, the Pennsylvania Canada goose population increased by some 45,000 geese, going from an estimated 254,000 in 2003 to 299,000 in 2004.

Canada Geese feedingIt's estimated that a goose eats 4 or 5 pounds of grass a day and defecates every 8 minutes, producing over one pound of feces per day. The mess they leave behind discourages any sort of outdoor activity in that area. Their feces can contain many potentially harmful human pathogens including Giardia, Salmonella, and Shigella, just to name a few. While these pathogens usually cause very few problems with healthy individuals, small children, the elderly, and immunosuppressed individuals should not risk exposure. Anyone mowing goose populated turf areas should wear a dust mask.
      
Canada geese are protected by the Migratory Bird Treaty Act of 1918. Therefore, other than licensed hunting in season, other lethal control measures require a permit from US Fish & Wildlife. In the SW Pennsylvania area you can reach USDA Wildlife Services at 724-238-7320


MORE ABOUT A CANADA GOOSE:

  • The geese in SW Pennsylvania are Giant Canada Geese, weighing as much as 24 pounds and living up to 20 years.  

  • Some geese are resident and some are migratory. Resident geese live in the same area year round, and prefer to walk or swim instead of flying. 

  • The average clutch is 5 eggs with an incubation period of 27 days. A goose can produce 50 offspring during a lifetime. 

  • Geese molt from mid-June thru August, loosing their flight feathers and the ability to fly. Adults are flightless for 5 weeks and goslings 10 weeks. 

  • Canada geese mate for life and also show great fidelity for their nesting sites by returning year after year.

Canada Geese in snow
"Snow geese"


 


"RULES OF ENGAGEMENT"

Geese basically need three things: safety, food and water.

Most control strategies should aim at affecting at least 2 of their 3 needs.

Cultural tactics include

  • RULE #1 
    DO NOT FEED THE GEESE!!! 

  • Harassment 
    It used to be permissible to harass geese on your own property without a permit, as long as you didn't touch them.
    You now need a permit for harassment of geese in Pennsylvania. Landowners cannot just go out and harass geese without a state or federal permit unless they have a Pest Control license from the state.
    Scare devices include sirens, horns, whistles, screamers, whistle bombs, cracker shells, distress calls, spot lights and even laser lights. Remote control boats are also used. A stuffed coyote with 2 carefully positioned "dead" geese decoys can work well if repositioned. Change tactics and methods often. 

  • Habitat Modification 
    Reduce mowed turf areas - geese love short, lush grass. Limit easy access from grazing areas to the water, especially during molt. Make the area look unsafe with groups of tall, thick plantings. 

canada goose habitat
Perfect habitat - lush grass right next to the water
  

  • Biological 
    Use Border Collies as potential predators.

  • Chemical Controls 
    Grape-flavored 'ReJexit' is aversive to geese. 'Flight Control Plus' causes stomach discomfort when ingested by geese. Geese begin to avoid treated areas. 

  • Lethal Techniques 
    These all require a permit and include egg addling, round-ups and hunting.


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