Canadian Geese Welcome Wearing Thin
By Jessica Waters, WNEG Radio
The Canadian goose, one of the largest members of the waterfowl family, is a familiar sight around Lake Hartwell, and its presence is welcomed by many wildlife aficionados. However, as the goose population continues to increase, and the Canadian goose shifts from a seasonal migratory guest to a year-round resident, that welcome has grown thin for many.
Geese are often regarded as “messy” or “unclean” due to the fact that a full-grown goose can leave up to two pounds of waste per day, according to the National Park Service. Frustration over this “messy” nature ramps up during the summer months, when the birds enter their molting season and become temporarily flightless, amplifying the impact of their high-volume waste production.
Tina Johannsen, Assistant Chief of the Wildlife Resources Department’s (WRD) Game Management Section, said, “Our offices report that calls about Canada geese tend to increase slightly in late June and early July. This increase is almost certainly caused by the fact that geese are ‘hanging around’ an area longer than usual. Why? Because they cannot fly right now. Geese go through a molting process in the summer during which they lose their flight feathers and are in the process of growing new ones.”
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.
WRD personnel recommend patience until the molting season is over and the geese move on; however, if geese continue to cause problems, WRD recommends the following actions:
- Harassment: First, try a variety of harassment techniques (also called hazing), including mylar balloons, noise makers, or even trained herding dogs. These techniques may scare the geese away from your property.
- Chemical Repellents: Repellents can be sprayed on the grass in your yard to deter geese from feeding in treated areas. Most repellents require re-application after mowing or after rains.
- Physical Barriers: Barriers, such as wire or string 12–18 inches above the ground, or heavy vegetation (like cattails), along property lines or the shoreline can deter geese from using your property. This method requires consistency from the property owner and may not always be 100% effective.
- Special Permits to Remove Geese: In cases where the above techniques have been unsuccessful, homeowners who want to reduce or eliminate the goose population on their property can obtain a permit from their local WRD Game Management office (https://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 https://gadnrle.org/special-permits#nuisance).