There are ways to get rid of nuisance geese
By Sean Barron
One sure sign that spring is in the air is the increase in bird sounds and sightings.
For many winter-weary residents, the return of a variety of migratory birds is a welcome sight, but one exception looms large for some people: Canada geese.
These birds can quickly go from friend to foe. They often become aggressive while nesting in undesired places, damage plants and leave scattered droppings on lawns, golf courses, in parks and other settings.
Urban, suburban and rural landowners can deal with the nuisance simply by learning effective ways to harass the unwanted birds until they leave a particular area, a wildlife expert says.
“Use multiple tactics,” Bryan Kay said during a recent seminar at Boardman Park’s Lariccia Family Community Center.
Kay, a biologist with District 3 of the Ohio Department of Natural Resources’ Division of Wildlife, spoke on techniques for scaring and deterring the geese. He also discussed certain legalities pertaining to handling the birds as well as some of their habits.
The 1918 Migratory Bird Treaty Act makes it a federal crime to kill or possess such birds except under the terms of valid permits, Kay warned, noting that people can apply for egg-destruction, round-up and shooting permits.
The first and most-common permit allows landowners to addle the birds’ eggs with a sharp object or use vegetable oil to seal eggs, both of which prevent them from hatching, Kay pointed out.
Many geese are drawn to urban settings because they’re not hunted there and they have ample places to nest, he said.
Most of the time, however, effective techniques will deter the birds from congregating in undesired areas such as near buildings and on lawns, Kay continued.
Such methods include so-called “bird bangers,” which sound like gunshots; screamers that resemble high-pitched fireworks; shell crackers to scare geese from a long distance; blank caps, sirens, air horns and whistles; and propane cannons on a timer, Kay explained, noting that repeated use is sometimes necessary to prevent the geese from returning.
Homeowners also are encouraged to stop fertilizing their lawns because fertilized grass is more attractive and nutritious to geese, Kay continued.
While on water such as backyard ponds, Canada geese are safest from predators, he said; decoys, barriers, scarecrows and laser lights can be used to keep the birds off such ponds.
“They all put their heads up and looked at each other like, ‘What was that?’” Kay said, referring to when he used a laser to frighten geese on a shore next to a pond.
Kay advised his audience to vary the timing and methods to prevent the birds from getting used to them.
“It’s almost a full-time job,” he said. “It does take a lot of work, and persistence is key.”
Also, feeding geese is highly discouraged because it defeats the efficiency of the techniques and removes the birds’ natural fear of people, Kay noted, adding that Canada geese tend to be most aggressive while nesting.
For more information, call the Ohio Division of Wildlife at 800-945-3543 (WILDLIFE) or visit www2.ohiodnr.gov. To file a complaint, go to www2.ohiodnr.com/wildlife/goose.