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Canada Geese (Branta canadensis)


Canada geese, both resident and migratory, are federally protected by the Migratory Bird Treaty Act of 1918.  Pursuant to this act, it is illegal to harm, take or possess migratory birds or any part of the bird, their nests, or their eggs except during the hunting season or by special permit.  State,  local ordinances, and FRA restrictive convenants and architectural construction standards also regulate the methods that can be used to control and/or deter geese.  It is your responsibility to know the restrictions and gain appropriate authorization before taking any action.

Landowner cooperation and an understanding of Canada geese biology and behavior are essential for successul management of resident geese populations.  Geese tend to avoid areas with trees that obstruct their ability to fly and scattered shrubs, bushes, or other objects that could hide a would-be predator.  Instead, Canada geese prefer large open grassy areas near or adjacent to waters.  Gently rolling slopes and short vegetation along the shoreline provide geese easy access to and from the water and a clear line of vision for better protection and escape from predators.  Young succulent shoots, such as those found in fertilized grass, are a highly desirable food source.  The well-manicured lawns along Emerald Lake’s shoreline provide all the ingredients that create an ideal habitat for Canada geese. Unless altered, these areas will continue to attract geese regardless of any other effort to deter them.

A number of measures can be taken to make your property less attractive to Canada geese.  However, as we have an established population, there will be no one “magic bullet.”  Rather, a combination of following techniques will be required to deter geese and keep the overall population under control. The following is a summary of the researched methods.  For more details and schematics, please download the document titled “Homeowners Guide to Goose Problems” (State of Minnesota, Department of Natural Resources, 1997.  Technical publication, 6 pp.) at the bottom of this page.

LANDSCAPE MODIFICATION:

»Reduce fertilizer use. Geese prefer fertilized grass to unfertilized grass.

»Reduce or eliminate mowing, especially along the shoreline: Geese have more difficulty locating new shoots in taller grass (more than 6 inches). Allowing the grass or other vegetation to grow tall around the lake may also act as a vegetative barrier.

»Reduce lawn size. As discussed above, geese are naturally attracted to open grassy areas. 

»Vegetative barriers.  A 10 to 20-foot wide vegetative barrier consisting of native or planted tall grasses, irises or shrubs along the shoreline will physically impede their ability to move in and out of the water.  Plants should exceed 30 inches in height. 

»»Rock barriers. A row of boulders (2 feet or more in diameter) along the shoreline may discourage geese in the same way that vegetative barriers work. Their aesthetic appearance and effectiveness is improved when used in conjunction with vegetative barriers.

This photo is a good example of some of the landscape modifications described above. Tall native grasses and scattered trees and shrubs are located along the shoreline.  The lawn immediately adjacent to the shoreline is minimally maintained with less frequent mowing and no fertilizer (like a "rough" on a golf course).  Not only does this discourage geese from entering lawn areas, it also is extremely beneficial to the lake's water quality by trapping fertilizers, herbicides, sediment, and other pollutants associated with stormwater runoff.  Furthermore, it provides habitat for more desirable waterfowl species, such as wood ducks, teals, mergansers, etc.

FENCING:  Like vegetative and rock barriers, fences can be erected to prevent geese from walking into an area.  DRB approval of the location and type of material is required prior to installation.  Refer to the FRA restrictive convenants and architectural control standards for guidelines/restrictions.

»Barrier fencing (chain-link, aluminum, etc.).  Fences should be at least 30 inches tall and have openings no larger than 3 inches in diameter.  the location and type of material is required prior to installation of any fence.

»Electric fencing.  Energized fencing must be properly installed and maintained to be effective.  Due to its unsightly appearance, it may detract from the overall aesthetics of the lake unless erected in combination with a vegetative barrier.

REPELLENTS:  Chemical taste repellents using the active ingredient methyl anthranilate (artificial grape flavoring) can be applied to deter geese from grazing on lawns.  Though effective, these products are expensive and must be reapplied every time the lawn is mowed, making them a cost-prohibitive option for treating large areas.  

HAZING/FRIGHTENING: Our goose population is accustomed to being around people so passive hazing/fear tactics (such as predator decoys, scare-baloons, and mylar tape) will likely only have short-lived results.  More aggressive techniques, such as those listed below, may be more effective.  

»Dogs.  Well-trained dogs are an effective way to chase geese.  However, it is time-consuming and expensive.  The dog must be on a leash, contained via invisible fence, or under voice-control at all times.  The owner/handler must not allow the dog to harm the geese or encroach on other people’s property without their consent.

»»Noise deterrents. Noise deterrents do not discriminate...they will deter ALL forms of wildlife, not just geese.  Noise deterrents also violate local ordinaces and articles within the restrictive covenants.

»Light deterrents.  Studies suggest lasers and  strobe light emitters can be used to disrupt roosting activities from dusk to dawn.

BIRD REMOVAL: The U.S. Department of Agriculture, Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (USDA-APHIS) will capture and euthanize resident geese upon request when geese becomes a nuisance.  This action should only be taken when necessary to reduce the population to a tolerable level and must be contingent upon majority approval of the Lake Committee members.


Homeowners Guide to Goose Problems.pdf