Canada geese (Branta Canadensis maxima) will be back. These giants are creatures of habit and are philopatric, which means they tend to use the same nesting sites every year. Before they return to their preferred nesting area, however, you need to develop a plan to make the area less inviting to them. The time to develop a plan is well before the geese appear in the spring.
Federal law protects Canada geese. It is illegal to harm geese, their eggs, or their nests in the United States without permission from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. Geese may be harassed or scared away, however, without a permit as long as the geese, goslings, eggs and nests are not harmed (source: “Solving Problems with Canada Geese. A management plan and information guide.” Humane Society of the United States, 2019).
The key to controlling these geese is to begin the treatment program when the first returning birds are sighted. It is much easier to encourage the geese to move before they establish their nest. Waiting to begin treatment until the nest is established is usually less effective than early treatment of the grass and turf.
Among the most effective goose control measures are chemical irritants that are applied to their preferred source of nutrition, grass and turf. These products irritate the goose’s trigeminal nerve, which is the part of the nervous system responsible for sending pain, touch and temperature sensations from its head, mouth and nose to its brain. Humans have this nerve, too. When the geese feed on treated grass and turf, they experience an unpleasant sensation that, with repeated exposure, will convince them to move to an untreated location.
Goose control sprays with the active ingredient methyl anthranilate (MA) are registered with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and have proven to be successful in moving geese out of areas of human conflict. MA is non-toxic and used in many foods for human consumption. Geese, however, hate both the odor and taste, and quickly move away from treated areas if the product is applied early in the season.