Less than forty years ago, the giant Canada goose was extremely rare in Indiana. As a result of restoration efforts and a tremendous increase in small urban and suburban water bodies, the Canada goose is now a common sight and the V-formation and distinctive honk of the Canada goose is recognized and enjoyed by many.
To many, this sight and sound is a messenger of a new season approaching. The Canada goose provides many recreational opportunities for viewing and hunting.
While many people enjoy seeing Canada geese, problems can occur when too many geese concentrate in one area. Typically, developers and landowners unknowingly cause the problem by creating ideal goose habitat. Geese are grazers and feed extensively on fresh, short, green grass. Add a permanent body of water (water retention pond, subdivision lake(s), golf course water hazard(s) or water gardens) adjacent to their feeding area and you have the created the perfect environment for geese to set up residence, multiply and concentrate. Geese, including their young, also have a strong tendency to return to the same area year after year. Once geese start nesting in a particular place, the stage is already set for more geese in successive years. The problem is further exacerbated when well-intentioned people purposefully feed geese. Artificial feeding of geese tends to concentrate larger numbers of geese in areas that under normal conditions would only support a few geese. Artificial feeding can also disrupt normal migration patterns and hold geese in areas longer than what would be normal. With an abundant source of artificial food available, geese can devote more time to locating nesting sites and mating. Artificial feeding can also concentrate geese on adjacent properties where their presence may not be welcomed, resulting in neighbor/neighborhood conflicts.
Congregating geese can cause a number of problems. Damage to landscaping can be significant and expensive to repair or replace, while large amounts of excrement can render swimming areas, parks, golf courses, lawns, docks, and patios unfit for human use. Since they are active grazers, they are particularly attracted to lawns and ponds located near apartment complexes, houses, office areas and golf courses. Geese can rapidly denude lawns, turning them into barren, dirt areas.
Geese are particularly aggressive during breeding and nesting season. Their behavior can cause problems around businesses when geese attack and nip at workers and customers.
Most of the problems in metropolitan areas occur from March through June during the nesting season. Breeding pairs begin nesting in late February and March. Egg-laying begins soon after nest construction is complete. Female giant Canada geese lay one egg every day and a half, and the average clutch size is five. Incubation of eggs begins after the last egg is laid and lasts 28 days.
Geese can cause a great deal of localized damage if many young are hatched in one area. After hatching, goslings are incapable of flight for about 70 days, so the young birds and their parents will graze near the hatching area for that time. Adults also molt their flight feathers near the end of June, rendering them flightless for 15 to 20 days. Molting also leaves feathers and down scattered around the area.
Some ways to deter Geese from populating a area that is frequented by humans.
Feeding ducks & geese is a popular practice for many people, but it is also a major reason why geese are attracted to certain areas and remain there for long periods of time. Feeding geese only leads to human/goose conflicts. Feeding also increases the susceptibility to avian diseases, which have the potential to kill large numbers of geese and other waterfowl. Vegetative buffer strips are another form of physical barrier used to deter geese from using shorelines directly adjacent to a water body. Geese like a gently rolling slope with short vegetation at the water’s edge. It provides a clear line of vision to avoid would-be predators and provides them easy access to the water. Creating a buffer strip of tall thick vegetation will deter geese from using this shoreline. Planting trees around ponds and water impoundments will in time make it harder for geese to access and leave the area and will stop frequenting the water in time.