Fact vs. Fiction: Canada Goose


December 10, 2013

Photo: Daniel D’Auria, Wikimedia

A Canada goose in flight near Oceanville, N.J. Photo: Daniel D’Auria, Wikimedia

Fiction: Canada geese take turns leading the flock during migration.
Fact: The notion geese take turns sharing the responsibilities of migration is a myth invented by motivational speakers. A flock of Canada geese keeps the same leader (or occasionally, pair leaders) throughout the trip. It’s also false that a couple will fall out of formation to wait with a fallen comrade until he dies.

Fiction: Canada geese are public nuisances and can be shot year-round.
Fact: Canada geese are the No. 1 avian threat to aircraft and airport safety. They’re voracious consumers of many agricultural crops, especially grains. Each goose leaves behind an average of 1.5 lbs. of feces per day, threatening public health. About 67 percent of them are nonmigratory or residential. A protected species, they’re regulated by license and hunting season requirements. Lethal removal permits for nuisance birds are issued only by the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Wildlife Services and only with proof all nonlethal avenues have been exhausted.

So, how do you discourage nuisance geese?

  • Change the landscape, and be aware of potential nesting sites. Balcony planting boxes are attractive goose nesting boxes.
  • Use goose repellent products. These nontoxic irritants discourage visits to lawns and plantings.
  • Use visual and audible scare tactics. These have to be changed and relocated often. Geese are smart and soon learn what seemed like a threat at first isn’t.
  • Install fencing and netting. This is best handled by a professional company that makes avian exclusion their business.

As in all areas of wildlife management, it’s imperative to check with the state and local authorities to be sure what’s legal.

You can reach the McGoverns at jeffreymcgovern@mindspring.com.


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