RODALE NEWS, EMMAUS, PA—If you’ve ever visited a park or even your own back yard and had the misfortune of stepping in goose dung left behind by an army of Canada geese, you may find the following fact hard to believe: Canada geese at one time nearly went extinct, due to overhunting and loss of wetlands in the first half of the 20th century.
Now, with robust populations in many parts of the country, some people view these magnificent birds as a nuisance. Some municipalities actually allow Canada geese control hunt days to control the population. The problem is, according to Audubon International, relocating or killing Canada geese doesn't work, because the geese return or new geese move in.
The good news is there are plenty of ways to make your yard less attractive to Canada geese, and these measures are considered more humane than reaching for your shotgun.
Here are effective geese control methods if you’re looking to humanely shoo the birds from your property.
• Assess the situation. If the geese are only stopping by for a bit during spring or fall, they’re likely only using your spot as a rest stop during migration. If you’re seeing geese in the winter, you’re likely providing habitat for a migratory population. According to Audubon, don’t try to evict each and every goose, but rather strike a balance. (When you try to completely take nature out of an equation, you usually lose.)
• Make changes now. Try to deter the geese from settling down on your property before the spring nesting season. That means making some changes to your yard’s landscape now.
• Get your grass in check. Canada geese are attracted to very short grass, so start using more organic lawn care techniques, including keeping your grass at least 3 inches tall. This will also help shade out weeds. Of course, removing chunks of your turf lawn and replacing with taller native plants and bushes is also a great geese control tactic.
• Boost waterfront vegetation. If you have a pond on your property, avoid mowing to the water’s edge and instead plant native vegetation that does well in moist environments.
• Don’t plant their favorite dish. Avoid planting the goose-preferred Kentucky bluegrass—it’s like putting a filet mignon in front of a steak fanatic.
• Whip out the wire. If unwanted Canada geese are lingering near your pond, you can install wire to deter the geese. According to Audubon, stringing one row 6 inches off the ground by the water's edge, and another 6 inches above the water three feet into the pond, can keep geese away from their popular water spots on your property.
• Don’t feed them. While it’s fun to feed geese, doing so creates overpopulation in an area, which can lead to disease and goose feces polluting waterways.
• Call on a dog. Border collies are known to be especially effective in Canada geese control, not because they want to eat them, but because they quietly circle them and herd them off of the land. Geese aren’t fans of the herding methods, and are less likely to return after being shooed away by a collie several times.