What’s Good for the Goose, Isn’t Good for the Pond


The current population of non-migratory Canada Geese is 3.5 to 5.5 million and growing. These are supposed to be migratory birds, however they get really comfortable in the South, and like some other visitors from the North, they just decide to stay.

“They are beautiful, majestic, and fly so gracefully.” “Look they are making a nest and raising a family.” People have different perceptions of Canada geese and that is the issue. While it is fun to feed them bread or corn and watch the kids enjoy it, this is not a good practice. The geese are more prone to stay on site year round and neglect their migration.

In general they are like an overly comfortable houseguest that hangs out around the pond and the surrounding areas. They frequently cause traffic issues, wandering across roads and through parking lots in urban areas. After they make a nest, they become protective, hissing and chasing anyone who comes near their nest. The kids are not as amused when they are chased back from the pond with goose poop between their toes. Oh, I haven’t mentioned that yet… an adult Canada goose poops 3 lbs per day. Where do they do this? In and around your pond. What do they eat when you are not feeding them corn? Grass, and lots of it. 25 Canada geese will consume 18.25 tons of grass per year. They pretty much eat it to the roots, or rip it out completely, devastating the lawn. In urban areas, a park or cemetery is a common target.

Canada geese along with other waterfowl are entering and exiting the pond several times per day. They usually don’t use a boat ramp, so they claw their way out of a pond, causing erosion.

So let’s talk control… First, be careful about federal regulations since Canada Geese are protected by the Migratory Bird Act. (Don’t get me started.) There is a product that uses a blinking beacon at night to keep geese from nesting on site. Since geese sleep with their heads up and eyes open, this irritates them and they choose to nest elsewhere. They will still visit during the day. Spraying a distasteful solution on the grass to discourage the area as a food source is expensive but effective. Low level fencing around the pond to keep them from entering and exiting is a good deterrent, as this option protects them from predators. There is a decoy coyote product on a pole that rotates in the wind and has a furry tail too. It certainly works to startle pond managers, and possibly geese as well.

People management is one of the main issues. A friend in the industry recently relayed a story of a lady that rode around on a golf cart feeding geese at a small east coast university. The pond manager let the administration know of the destructive nature of geese and the issues they were causing to the ponds and property. Unfortunately, she was such a large donor to the university, and so passionate about the “poor geese” they were unwilling to mention it to her. Oh, well.

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