Managing Canadian Geese

This information came from the University of Illinois Extension Website Living with Wildlife in Illinois, found at http://web.extension.illinois.edu/wildlife/

Canada geese are becoming increasingly common in urban areas in Illinois. Golf courses and ponds in residential developments are prime habitat for urban geese. Canada geese prefer a water source with a shallow slope to make access to water easier for their young. Bodies of water with tall vegetation nearby are less preferred since the tall vegetation can block the view of predators

Canada geese are diurnal, meaning that they are active during the day. They spend much of their day grazing and foraging for food either on land or in the water. Canada geese are highly social birds. During the breeding season, males may be aggressive towards humans and other animals if they come too close to the nest site or try to approach the goslings.

Canada geese are not likely to do much damage when there are only a handful of birds. However, large flocks of geese can lead to problems. Geese that have successfully raised young in an area are likely to return to that area the next year. Thus, over the course of a few years, a pair of geese can quickly multiply into a large flock of geese. Additionally, the presence of geese on a lake or pond attracts more geese to the area.

Geese use ponds with gently sloped banks that are surrounded by short grass and minimal tall vegetation that could impede their flight or obstruct their view of potential predators. If the pond is already built but has a shallow slope, there are modifications you can make to discourage geese. Plant trees and shrubs around the pond. Also try planting taller grass species and limit mowing to once or twice a year in an area adjacent to the shoreline of the pond.

Do not feed geese or ducks. Artificial feeding attracts more birds than would naturally be found at a site, and the easy meals will tend to keep geese from migrating as soon as they normally would.

Three-foot high poultry wire fences will help keep birds out of gardens or yards, especially during summer. Good results have also been reported using 20 pound or heavier monofilament fishing line to make a 3-strand fence. The first line should be six inches above ground, the second line is fixed at 12 inches high, and the third at 18 inches above ground. Aluminum foil or plastic flagging helps increase visibility of this type of fence. The monofilament fence is most effective if it is in place before geese start to use the area for nesting in early March. Some lake associations have also had success with two feet tall wire mesh fences installed directly at the water’s edge. The wire fence must remain tight, otherwise the geese will walk right over it into the water. If aesthetics are a concern, using green wire will help the fence blend into the landscape.

ReJeXiT and Bird Shield are two approved taste repellents available for use on turf areas where geese feed. Both are made from a non-toxic ingredient called methyl anthranilate. These repellents are most effective if used where geese browsing cannot be tolerated, leaving other areas of turf untreated. This technique can be used to train the geese to stay out of certain portions of the property. Both of these products are bio-degradable and will have to be reapplied after heavy precipitation events and as the plants grow. If large areas are to be protected, cost can quickly become a factor.

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