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Why is it necessary to manage geese at Parks and Beaches?

  • Geese at beaches and parks can lead to significant public health concerns.
  • The presence of geese can interfere with recreational activities and enjoyment of the beaches and parks they frequent.
  • Geese can cause environmental degradation.

Geese can be a significant nuisance on beaches and at parks and get in the way of the public enjoying nature and public spaces. The lack of predators and the lush vegetation at parks and beaches makes for a very inviting place for geese to nest, rest, and feed. Goose droppings often carry diseases, as can their feathers. Aside from being unsightly and dangerously slippery, this can lead to public health concerns at beaches and. Goose droppings in the water can contaminate the water and surrounding soil or sand with E coli and other infectious agents, making them hazardous to swimmers or young children accidentally ingesting contaminated water.  Nesting geese can also be very aggressive and cause considerable injury to humans in an effort to protect their eggs or young hatchlings.

Environmental degradation is another concern; geese munching on young shoots and grasses leads to a diminished root system, dead or stunted vegetation, and eventual soil erosion. Healthy root systems protect against erosion from wind and water. 

Management and Mitigation of Geese

geese on grassy park areaGeese are federally protected wildlife in Canada and the US, and as such, a permit is necessary for management and mitigation.

A primary strategy is to alter the environment to make it less attractive to geese. Using landscape barriers or low fences can deter geese from coming into an area. Planting unpalatable vegetation or using nontoxic repellants on the vegetation can help keep geese away. Allowing grass to grow a little longer (geese prefer short grass for better visibility and ease of movement), will also slow geese from setting up camp.

Visual and auditory deterrents can be used, but are less effective as the geese, over time, become habituated to it.

Dog patrols are the most effective way of deterring geese in the area. Trained dogs can chase the birds without harming them. Regular patrols are necessary as geese will keep coming back, especially with any water in the area. Dogs are also great to prevent nesting; having dogs in the area regularly will discourage geese from laying eggs.

Capture and relocation is also a great way to control goose populations, but requires significant time and effort. Relocation requires permission of the landowners to where the geese will be moved to, as well as a permit from the wildlife service. Regulated hunting - also with a permit from the wildlife service - can help control goose populations where it is considered safe and legal. This approach must be carefully managed by professionals to ensure it is done safely, ethically and sustainably. 

Educating the public is of paramount importance. Don't Feed The Birds! Consuming human food is not healthy for geese and will almost certainly guarantee them hanging around and/or returning. If not fed the proper nutrition, geese can become ill and pass illness to other wildlife. If food is not easily available, geese are much less likely to be attracted to areas where humans are. Anything to reduce human and goose conflict is good for humans and geese. Some municipalities have introduced bylaws making it a finable offence to feed any wildlife in public or private spaces.

Geese management and mitigation requires ongoing monitoring of goose activity and for the management techniques to allow for adjustments as needed. Through diligent application of these methods and ongoing surveillance, it is possible to effectively maintain the enjoyment of the community’s access to beaches and parks in their municipalities.  Humans can coexist peacefully with nature and wildlife in all its glory.

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