Date of this Version
During the last 30 years, Canada Goose (Branta canadensis) populations have become established in many urban and suburban parts of North America. Most of these scattered populations were established when live geese were released in these areas or nearby rural areas by individual hunters, sportmen's groups and game agencies. The birds quickly found lawns in urban-suburban areas an abundant source of nutritious grass for grazing and discovered people willing to provide supplementary handouts. The resident goose populations thrived; in Connecticut alone their population has increased to 9,000. However, the increased populations contributed little to the hunter's take because the geese usually remained in urban-suburban areas where limited hunting occurred. As resident goose populations increased, water companies, homeowners, park managers and golfers began to complain about both the numbers of birds and their fecal material which was deposited everywhere. Unfortunately, there are no easy ways to alleviate the problems. We have found that the chemical repellent, Mesurol, can keep geese away from areas where they are unwanted, but this repellent is expensive. Geese can also be discouraged from using areas if the landowner is willing to drain ponds, replace grass with an unpalatable ground cover such as pachysandra, or use many bushes and hedges to landscape their lawns. For the most part, however, landowners feel the "cures" are worse than the problem. In Connecticut, we also found that resident Canada geese are forced to the Long Island shore after inland waters freeze in mid-winter. Hence a special goose hunting season in mid-winter was initiated to try to harvest these birds, but hunters do not take enough of them to control the populations.