University of Illinois Extension


John Church,
Extension Educator, Natural Resources
Rockford Extension Center

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Discouraging Canada Geese

With spring here and warmer weather soon to be, many people will be spending more time outdoors working or relaxing. Sites near ponds or other water areas are often popular while at home or possibly eating lunch at work. But, as many home and business owners know, Canada geese have gone from a popular wildlife specie that was fun to watch during their V-shaped fall and spring migration flights to a much less popular, even undesirable, nuisance around many of those favorite suburban ponds and lakes.

The population of permanent non-migrating geese has increased significantly in the last decade. As a permanent "resident," the geese leave large amounts of droppings, eat turfgrass down to the bare soil, and can be a pest with their charging and honking.

One of the main reasons for them to reside year-round is that new, desirable environments have been created in many suburban subdivisions, corporate complexes, golf courses, and other areas with bodies of water. Canada geese prefer areas that have short, tender grass; fresh sources of drinking water that do not freeze; shorelines with easy access to and from the water; and security from predators. These are the types of conditions in many suburban areas.

One of the principle ways to discourage the geese from staying in an area is to change the environment. Create a less desirable habitat. A rather easy, cost-effective way is to plant shoreline buffers of taller, native plants that make it more difficult for the geese to enter and leave the water. The buffer strips also help provide protection from lawn pesticides and nutrients from entering the water. They also provide habitat for less troublesome wildlife species.

Another major method of discouragement is by not allowing feeding of the birds at the pond or lake. Other ways to discourage the geese include physical barriers along the shoreline, such as fencing; introducing natural "enemies" such as swans or trained herding dogs; using scare tactics such as noise or visual deterrents; using commercial repellants; or allowing the lake to freeze.

Remember, though, federal migratory bird laws protect the birds, so it is unlawful to injure the birds, offspring, or eggs, without the proper permits and/or license. The U. S. Fish and Wildlife Service, located in Barrington and Rock Island for northern Illinois, can provide information on the law and possible permits.

For further information on buffer strips or other controls, contact University of Illinois Extension.

April - May 2000: Gardening with Hebs - Part 1 | Discouraging Canada Geese | Needle Evergreen Diseases | May Insect Problems

Past Issues

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