Handbook for managing canada geese and cackling geese in southern Canada: chapter 2

5. Goose Management

Management of Canada Goose conflicts requires identifying problem birds and selecting and implementing appropriate techniques to deter them. Although the amount of suitable habitat is a key factor governing the number of geese in a given area, the number of geese considered "problem birds" will be determined by how they are perceived by property owners and property users. In some situations, such as on apartment balconies, even one pair of breeding geese is considered unacceptable. In contrast, many breeding geese on large wetland areas with adequate space and limited public access will be tolerated or even encouraged.

In addition to differences in perception of geese as a problem, there is also a clear difference of public opinion with respect to acceptable control methods in urban and rural/agricultural areas. This difference, which is likely associated in part with the scale of goose-induced financial losses in rural/agricultural areas, complicates regional goose management. In addition, special interest groups may call for specific management practices and oppose others.

This is why management of a high-profile species like the Canada Goose requires extra effort to inform the public of the rationale behind management programs. Goose management must be a coordinated community effort delivered through cooperation between land use agencies at provincial, municipal, public and private levels. As well, the appropriate timing of deterrents and an integrated approach using several techniques are critical to the successful management of goose populations.

6. Seasonal Aspect of Deterrents

As a result of seasonal differences in goose behaviour, some goose control options do not work consistently throughout all seasons. For example, scaring geese is less effective when they are nesting or raising broods, as they are reluctant to leave eggs and young behind. Similarly, when adult geese are moulting, they are unable to fly away to another location so scaring techniques are much less effective than they would be for flying geese. Appropriately timed deterrents are best.

6.1 Early Spring: Reduce the Attractiveness of Feeding Habitats

  • This is appropriate in all seasons, but it is advisable to do this early in the season before geese arrive at a site and begin to establish territories.
  • Implement the landscape modifications outlined in section 7.1.2.
  • If landscape changes are not possible, as in the case of agricultural crop lands or golf courses, begin scaring immediately when geese appear to prevent them from developing a habit of using the area.

6.2 Early Spring: Prevent Nesting

  • Start discouraging geese early, as pairs may find a suitable nest site as early as February. By mid- to late March, most pairs have already established a breeding territory.
  • Discourage birds from nesting by using habitat modification and scaring techniques, outlined in sections 7.1.2 and 7.1.3. Some scaring techniques require a permit from Environment Canada.
  • Avoid creating nesting habitats, such as artificial islands in lakes and ponds.

6.3 Late Spring: Prevent Hatching

  • Techniques to prevent hatching are outlined in section 7.2.2.  A permit from Environment Canada is required to apply these techniques.

6.4 Late Spring-Early Summer: Scare Pre-Moulting Geese Away

  • Flocks of moulting geese begin to form in late May; once established, these flocks are very difficult to displace.
  • Look for geese gathering on open water and in fields with unobstructed paths to water.
  • In early May, start checking property regularly to detect flocks of pre-moulting geese.
  • To discourage the formation of these flocks, it is essential to begin a hazing program as soon as congregations of geese are noticed and before the geese become flightless.
  • This may require frequent scaring (daily) to ensure moulting flocks do not settle where they are not wanted.

6.5 Early Summer: Erect Barriers

  • Geese are reluctant to fly over barriers when they have young, flightless goslings with them; instead, they walk between water and feeding areas so they do not leave their young behind.
  • Keep broods away from designated areas with barriers (see section 7.1.2).

6.6 Summer: Lure Geese Elsewhere

  • Providing alternative feeding areas with plants that geese prefer to eat will enhance the effectiveness of most hazing and habitat manipulation techniques.
  • These alternative feeding areas can be in hunting zones or other areas where geese are not perceived to be a problem.

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