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Control of Canada Geese

 

The following suggestions for controlling Canada geese populations, presented at a symposium hosted by Westchester County have been compiled by the Parks Department. These methods have been met with success in many instances.

 

Alter the habitat

Reduce grassy expanses by planting trees and shrubs and turn lawns into meadows. Establish large ground cover areas in place of manicured lawns. Leave an apron of tall grass (6’ to 10’) around ponds or approaching bodies of water. Shrub areas around bodies of water make access to ponds difficult for Canada geese. This strategy discourages the geese and encourages them to relocate. This strategy is also easy, inexpensive and proven.*

(*In public parks and recreational areas, these measures should be explained to visitors through appropriate signage.)

 

Encourage the Canada geese to feed from nature

Feeding Canada geese or other wild fowl promotes a dependency on humans and creates problems for them. Wild animals should be free to be wild and encouraged to migrate. Most humans do not provide the right nutritional balance when they feed waterfowl at our ponds and lakes. In public areas, appropriate signage that explains why feeding is discouraged could be part of a campaign to get people to stop feeding and domesticating Canada geese.

 

Install mechanical barriers

Tall grass and appropriate shrubs should serve as natural barriers. Natural barriers and habitat alteration should be tried and their results analyzed before employing any mechanical barriers.

 

Employ scarecrows

This method can be done easily and without reservation. It is viewed as a later tactic in the effort. One should be careful to have some limb of the scarecrow move, as European experience has shown that some motion is necessary to deter Canada geese.

 

Chemical repellants

While much has been made of these commercial products and while they may be effective within certain parameters, there could be other environmental impacts that are potentially negative or insufficiently researched. Chemical repellants are relatively expensive and last only until the first rainfall. Runoff poses environmental impacts. The Parks Department is not interested in this strategy.

 

Border Collies

Border Collies are most effective in the autumn during migration by harassing the Canada geese and thereby discouraging geese from settling in for the winter. In the spring, collies have been used to prevent Canada geese from developing nesting sites. Although expensive, at an average of $3,000 per dog and follow-up training sessions, this method of geese control can be effective, primarily a short-term or temporary measure. It is not, however, a preferred strategy.

 

Employ plastic swans and cygnets

This strategy is not favored. The track record on this is mixed as in some areas swans and Canada geese do mix

 

Egg substitution

There are at least five methods of intervening in the Canada goose reproductive cycle: egg addling, egg oiling, shaking, puncturing or freezing or egg substitution (using wooden eggs). These methods should only be undertaken by a professional under contracted service, as approaching Canada geese is not without risk.

 

Oral contraception

This is the newest option and remains untested but shows promise for the future.

More information about control of Canada Geese can be found at http://www.geesepeace.com/. Information on wildlife can be found at the Humane Society’s site at http://www.hsus.org/.