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How do you "manage" Canada Geese?!

Goose Management programs can vary greatly depending upon the overall objectives of the program and the time of year in which the program is initiated. A successful Canada Goose management program will involve modifying at least two of the three key requirements for a thriving Resident Canada Geese population: Food & Water, Safety and the Ability to Reproduce.

The six steps for Canada Goose Management

Choose From One of Four (4) Management Objectives

Determine Available Control Method(s) and Write the Plan

Before you begin: Preparatory Items/Issues

Implementation of the Plan

Plan Assessment

Follow-up

Choose From One of Four (4) Management Objectives

Though a Canada Goose management plan can be started at any time of the year, success rates are higher for complete removal objectives when plans are implemented during the "flight-able" periods.

Removal of Geese from Feeding Site
Resident Geese may have between 5 and 12 feeding sites where they can travel to graze and forage. These can generally be identified by small or large concentrations of geese feeding in a given area at a specified time during the day and generally not at sunrise or sunset. Feeding sites are chosen by Resident geese because of an attractive, plentiful food source and the perceived safety of the site. Long Island Tick and Mosquito (LITMC) treatments will deter Resident geese from feeding, encouraging them to abandon the feeding site.


Removal of Geese from Nesting Site

Nesting sites can be identified by a nest or by observing geese during early morning and late evening hours. Nesting sites may also contain "roosting piles" of droppings in addition to individual droppings [see image below]. It may be difficult to discourage and repel Resident geese from nesting sites, especially during the mating season in late winter and early spring. Therefore, fall and winter applications should be made in these areas prior to nesting to discourage feeding and encourage relocation. Combining treatments with a form of harassment or scare tactics will work to remove both the elements of food and safety.

Herding Geese away from critical areas
Resident Geese can be herded away from critical areas through the use of repellents or scare tactics. The end user should determine no-tolerance zones or areas where geese populations are NOT acceptable and tolerance zones where geese populations ARE acceptable or can coexist with humans. In these cases, the no-tolerance zone should be treated to eliminate the food source and remove the attraction geese have from these critical areas. Depending upon the total size and shape of the property (both treated and untreated), Resident geese may or may not continue to walk over the treated area to feed in untreated areas.


Relief options during "flightless" period when geese cannot be relocated
In the spring, Resident geese build nests and lay eggs. The geese will stay with these nests at all costs. Once the goslings are born, they are flightless and will be cared for by the adults. During the molting period (summer months) adult Resident geese are not able to fly long distances to frequent their preferred feeding site. During this extended time period, Resident geese will generally stay in close proximity to the nesting site to allow for gosling maturity. This is why we recommend that in the Spring and early Summer that feeding areas be treated on a weekly basis so that the Resident geese seek other areas to nest and molt in.

In certain circumstances when aggressive geese cannot be relocated, or where they have built nests in high traffic areas and are having conflicts with humans, we will contact the NYS DEC for removal of those geese. DO NOT ATTEMPT TO CONFRONT OR HARM AN AGGRESSIVE GOOSE OR ITS NEST. It can be dangerous and is a violation of Federal law.

Determine available control method(s) and write the plan

Addling if eggs present
Egg addling is a means of population control and deterring future nesting by a mating pair. Canada geese are protected by the Migratory Bird Act; therefore egg addling requires a permit. Egg addling will eliminate gosling populations, resulting in reduced future geese populations at your site. Addling may also cause a mating pair to eventually abandon the nesting site over time if addling is performed yearly.
Spraying food source
The natural treatment used by LITMC includes 3 scents that are odor repellents, 4 scents that are taste repellents, and a purple UV dye only visible to the geese that will deter the geese from eating a treated food source. (Geese have 4 Cones or Rods in their eyes, humans have 3. As a result, geese see in the 200-700 nanometer range, humans see in the 500-700 nanometer range, so geese see the treated areas as being purple.) Geese who feed on LITMC treated turfgrass will experience a temporary yet effective digestive irritation several minutes after feeding. The geese will not hesitate to eat treated turf if they have not encountered treated UV turf before, which is why stray or migratory geese may land on your property after a treatment. However, after eating treated turf, the learned memory association to treated turf and the post-ingestional irritation that occurs after they eat it, the Resident geese will associate the UV Dye on the grass with the digestive irritation, and will seek food elsewhere. Testing has shown that after several encounters with LITMC treated turfgrass, Resident Canada geese will not eat at a UV treated food source and will seek out non-treated food…on someone else’s property.
Habitat modification
Resident Canada geese select nesting or feeding sites which provide safety and easy access to water. These sites can be modified to jeopardize their safety. Habitat modification techniques include allowing native vegetation to grow to 12 inches or higher around the perimeter of the pond, addition of large rocks or riffraff around the water source, or installation of fences or other barriers. These techniques will make water entry and exit more difficult and time consuming which will decrease the sites’ safety appeal.


Nest destruction/removal
Nest destruction and removal requires a permit. If you have not been able to treat a suspected nesting site prior to nesting, we recommend you hire a licensed professional to remove the nests if the presence of the protective adults poses a hazard to humans or the geese. LITMC will have necessary licenses prior to the Spring of 2016.


Posting to stop hand feeding
Waterfowl, including Canada geese, provide enjoyable recreation for people who enjoy watching and feeding birds. However, hand feeding causes birds to feel comfortable around humans in an urban setting causing a greater potential for increased bird encounters. Hand feeding will also attract other flocks to feeding sites, compounding the problem. Lastly, supplemental feeding of food outside their natural diet can be unhealthy for Canada geese.


Hazing/Scare tactics
Artificial scaring devices or other hazing techniques can be effective in discouraging Resident Canada geese. Noise makers, reflective tapes, and pyrotechnics (firecrackers, screamers, noise bombs, etc…) can be effective but can be an annoyance in urban areas. Dogs can also be used to scare or herd Resident Canada geese. They can be effective at chasing and discouraging geese. Results can be temporary or short lived if the method of hazing is not present at all times. Also, geese have been known to adapt to most hazing methods and a constant rotation of methods is recognized as being more effective. However, it may also be very effective at annoying your neighbors.

Before you begin: Preparatory Items/Issues

Federal Permits for addling, removal, round-up
Permits are required for egg addling, removal, and round-ups. LITMC will be fully licensed by the NYS DEC prior to the Spring of 2016.
Preparing the turf for spraying
Areas to be treated by LITMC should be relatively clear of debris and leaves to ensure product will adhere to the target surface (the grass blade). During the summer months, grass should be mowed prior to a LITMC application. This will allow maximum time between mowings and lengthen goose repellency. Clippings and other debris should be collected, mulched, or raked, if possible. Excessively frequent mowing will reduce the amount of product available. Applying a plant growth regulator (PGR) will reduce mowing frequency, thereby lengthening the goose repellency period of LITMC treated turf. Geese do not like longer grass, keeping it at 3" or more is better.

Implementation of the Plan

A successful, integrated goose management program including applications by LITMC can be initiated at any time of year. Successful applications by LITMC are year-round programs. Resident geese (like dandelions) are a biological entity that will challenge an attractive feeding and nesting site year after year. Resident Canada geese live, dwell, and forage in the same area year round. Resident geese select a site because it provides a good food source, adequate reproductive potential, and safety. Monthly applications by LITMC will discourage geese from feeding and may cause them to abandon a site in future years. (Initially, more applications may be required until the geese ‘learn’ that your property should be avoided.) You should expect Resident geese to challenge a site they have called "home" for several years.

Plan Assessment

How has goose behavior changed?
Geese should be monitored closely during the weeks following a LITMC application. Evaluate whether or not the geese are actively feeding in the treated areas. Also, notice if geese are traveling elsewhere to feed (including just outside of treatment zone) or have abandoned the site completely.
Change in numbers of geese?
LITMC applications will reduce geese populations over time due to the removal of the food source. At times, large migratory flocks may invade a site and feed for a short period of time before reacting to the treated grass. Migratory flocks are not permanent but are a nuisance. In most cases, the migratory geese react to both the odor and the taste and leave before they make too much of a mess. This occurs in the Spring and the Fall during migration, not in the Summer months.
Are additional measures required?
Continue to evaluate the site to determine if additional management techniques are required to herd or remove the Resident geese.
RECORD IN A DOCUMENT
Creating records of geese numbers and movements or relocations will aid in the following year's management planning.

Follow-up

Modify plan for the following season.

Improve scheduling…for example, have LITMC put in for permits early enough to remove and/or addle eggs to meet the NYS DEC waiting period and have LITMC apply their natural repellents year round.

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