Geese Information and Management
Canada geese are probably one of our most beloved wildlife species. We have marked spring and fall by their movement and marveled at their "V" shape flying formation. Our area now has a growing population of "resident" Canada geese that stay year-round. Their adaptation to human environments has put them in increasing conflict with people.
Geese are attracted to the protection afforded by ponds or large water fountains with adjacent mowed grass areas which are ideal feeding sites for the geese. Also contributing to the attractiveness of some sites is the recreational feeding by people. While not only unhealthy for geese, the feeding of such food as bread and popcorn can also make geese dependent on humans and even aggressive.
The concerns of a resident population of Canada geese and management techniques to reduce these populations are varied as listed below. However, please note, management of Canada geese is federally controlled. Fairfax County does not have the authority to address geese issues in your neighborhood. For more information, contact Fairfax County Animal Control at 703-324-0240, TTY 711.
Human Health and Safety
- Excess droppings creates a potential for slipping and falling.
- There have been instances within Fairfax County where nesting aggressive geese have injured people.
- Scientific studies of the potential for disease transmissions from goose droppings to humans have been inconclusive.
|Feather Litter||Bank Erosion||Algae|
- Geese trample and denude the vegetation along the shoreline of a pond and adjacent grassy areas and inhibit new growth.
- Bare spots lead to erosion of the soil and sedimentation of ponds and streams.
- Stormwater runoff carries with it the nutrient-rich droppings which causes algae growth and has adverse effects on natural vegetation and aquatic life.
- Droppings in heavy concentrations over-fertilize the lawns.
- Geese drive away or kill other natural inhabitants of ponds such as smaller waterfowl.
- Geese often interfere with traffic.
- Feather litter can be aesthetically unpleasant.
- Goose droppings not only block walkways and park benches, but are often tracked into homes and offices and come in contact with children's toys.
- During nesting season geese can become more aggressive toward people who inadvertently approach a nest site.
The first step of a goose management program is to identify and eliminate or limit the goose attractions in the immediate area. The four primary attractions are ponds, vegetation, food attractions and nesting areas.
Since geese prefer areas where they have easy access between food, water and a nesting site, barriers can be an effective deterrent in discouraging resident geese. However, any successful goose management program normally incorporates multiple methods.
Addling, which requires a federal permit, refers to techniques which prevent goose embryos from developing. One addling technique is to coat goose eggs with corn oil within the first 10 to 14 days of being laid. Addling is an important tool in reducing a goose population over a long period of time. This can also break the instinctual bonds of geese to remain after nesting season, and with no goslings, adult geese are more likely to leave the area.
One method to manage a goose population is to prevent easy access to water. Railings can be installed along a pond or fountain, and adjacent grassy areas can be landscaped with new plantings that provide physical and sight barriers to deter geese from entering the water.
Biologs (tightly bound cylinders of coconut/coir fiber held together by coir fiber netting - see image right) can be installed at the perimeter of ponds to repair the effects of erosion and to prevent further erosion. Gabion baskets (rectangular wire cages filled with stone) can also be placed along the waters edge to prevent easy access. A railing along nearby walkways provides further barrier protection for the plants and reduces recreational feeding.
Border Collie Herding
Trained Border Collies can be used to herd geese in much the same way that they have herded farm animals for centuries. Although the dogs never touch the geese, the geese sense the Border collie is a predator and flee the area. The geese will attempt to return, but the repeated presence of the dogs will convince them that the area is unsafe. Eventually, the geese will move on to other sites.
The presence of the Border Collie reinforces the effectiveness of the new landscaping because the geese believe there are places (high grass and shrubs) where it is possible for this perceived predator to hide. The landscaping reduces their view and thus their sense of safety. Since the Border Collie works in the water as well as on land, the geese cannot use the water to escape their predator.
Community outreach and education is crucial in gaining public understanding of the nature of Canada geese. By explaining their characteristics and behaviors, many concerns and conflicts the public has with Canada geese may be resolved.
Colorful signs can remind well-meaning passersby that feeding geese and other wildlife is unhealthy for them, leads to increased aggression towards humans, and is against local regulations.