A short time ago, my relative faced a moral and legal crisis. In an attempt to scare Canadian geese (technically known as Canada geese) away with the sound of a BB gun shot, or maybe just sting one of the many geese who had been depositing pounds of feces on his property each day, this relative inadvertently shot a Canada goose in the head, killing it instantly on his suburban property. It was a moral crisis because he had never intended to kill any animal, and a legal crisis since killing a Canada goose violates the North American Migratory Bird Treaty. To any eyewitness, it would have appeared that he deliberately assassinated the bird.
What followed was a series of misfortunes as he tried to make the best of a bad situation without attracting any attention. An effort to pluck the feathers from the Canada goose brought only detriment to them and to the dignity of the remains; aside from trashing their garage and effectively mauling the carcass of an innocent Canada goose, it accomplished nothing. Though that episode only heightened his sense of guilt, my relative ultimately disposed of the body like a sloppy hit man - in a dumpster at the local Elks Club, under cover of darkness.
What could he have done to avoid these unfortunate events? Undoubtedly many of you have faced challenges as you tried to encourage gaggles of Canadian geese to rest, eat, poop and socialize elsewhere. Here are some helpful goose control tips.
- Herding dogs. If you could use a furry companion, consider owning a herding dog like a border collie. As long as the dog breed only chases and herds the geese, rather than attacking to kill them, this option requires no permit. You are merely harassing the Canadian geese, making your yard less hospitable to them.
- Don't let anybody feed them. Along the lines of hospitality, you'll never get rid of Canadian geese if your family or others are feeding them on or nearby your property. Feeding the geese is irresponsible anyway, as it encourages wild animals to develop dependent habits.
- Decoys. Decoys can be surprisingly effective as a deterrent of Canadian geese.
- Predator decoys. If buying a dog is out of the option, you can always buy a decoy dog or coyote to keep in your yard. By moving it around every other day, you can possibly keep Canadian geese off of your property.
- Goose decoys. What kind of goose decoy would deter geese, you ask? The dead kind. No Canada goose would ignore the sight of dead geese. The carcasses send a natural warning to them that the land is unsafe for geese. After all, by shooting one of them, your goal would be the same - to convince them that your land is unsafe. This way, no bird has to die. In order for the goose decoys to be effective as repellents, you should use two of them. They can be floated on the surface of water or placed on the land.
- Alter your landscape. Canadian geese are drawn to wide open areas where nothing obscures their visibility of any potential predators. By planting low-lying shrubs and bushes around your yard (especially effective along the shore of any water adjacent to your property), you can transform a goose haven into a place of discomfort for them.
- Using sounds. If you don't mind listening to the sound of various wild birds squawking occasionally, pre-recorded distress sounds can be amplified across your property to scare away Canadian geese who would potentially use your property as a landing pad.
- Chemical deterrents. The use of naturally occurring, non-toxic chemical agents on feeding grounds can get those geese off of your property as well (for example, Rejex-iT, whose active repelling ingredient can be found in fruit).
- Seek a permit to expand your options. If you have exhausted possible non-lethal options for getting rid of the Canadian geese - and the geese continue to cause property damage or pose risk to human well-being - you can seek a permit to explore lethal options. You'll need a permit granted by the government in order to kill a Canada goose or tamper with their eggs.
- Compassion for wildlife. You may be in no mood to consider a compassionate approach to the Canadian geese who have unwittingly tormented you. But it is worthwhile to reflect upon the difficulty of their migration even without you firing at them. What is a small plot of grass compared to a living creature? Though my relative was angry to the point of physically stinging one of the birds, he felt serious remorse at having accidentally killed one. Before you seek a permit to kill, make sure you are prepared for the remorse that the killing might precipitate. If you have not truly exhausted available non-lethal methods first, you will possibly be adding a great burden to your conscience.
Property issues concerning Canadian geese continue to escalate. More and more of us find ourselves facing a gaggle of geese who, despite their cuteness, can easily destroy property and crops. Thankfully, non-lethal deterrent methods have proven effective for many in similar situations. Your state department of wildlife can provide information about hunting seasons, regulations and permits.