By Melissa Cummings, Communications/Outreach
The Canada goose is an adaptable bird that can live in a variety of locations, including open farmland and rural reservoirs to suburban neighborhood ponds, office complexes, parks and other developed areas.
This proximity to people sometimes leads to frustration, especially in the summertime when everyone heads outdoors to potentially discover areas of feathers and feces. However, the Georgia Department of Natural Resources’ Wildlife Resources Division asks people to be patient with geese, especially during a particular part of the summer.
“Each summer, geese go through a molting process during which they lose their flight feathers and grow new ones,” says WRD State Waterfowl Biologist Greg Balkcom. “During the molt, there is a period of a few weeks in late June and early July when geese can’t fly. It is typically during this time that landowners and homeowners often get irritated with the amount of goose feces and feathers left behind.”
So, what can you do if you have goose problems? During most times of the year, geese can be scared away with the use of harassment techniques. But because geese cannot fly during the molt, these techniques may not work, making people frustrated when the geese just won’t leave. In these cases, WRD personnel encourage affected landowners and homeowners to be patient. The new feathers will soon grow in, and the geese will regain their ability to fly and will likely move on.
However, if geese continue to cause problems, here are a few tips to try and reduce the trouble:
• Harassment: Landowners who don’t want geese on their property can first try a variety of harassment techniques, including chemical repellents, mylar balloons, wire/string barriers, and noise makers. These methods are proven to help reduce goose problems. However, they require consistency from the property owner and are not always 100% effective.
• Relocation or Lethal Methods: Homeowners who want to reduce or eliminate the goose population on their property can obtain a permit from their local WRD Game Management office (www.georgiawildlife.com/about/contact). This permit allows them to have geese captured and relocated to a suitable area or allows them to legally and lethally remove the animals. The removal can be done by the homeowner or by a licensed nuisance wildlife trapper (list found at www.georgiawildlife.com/nuisancewildlife).
It is important to remember that Canada geese are a protected species under state and federal law. It is illegal to hunt, kill, sell, purchase or possess Canada geese except according to Georgia's migratory bird regulations.
For more information, visit the U. S. Fish and Wildlife Service website at www.fws.gov/permits. For a brochure on a variety of methods of dealing with nuisance geese, visit www.georgiawildlife.com (Select “Hunting”, “Game Management” and “Nuisance Canada Geese”).