Date of this Version
Growing populations of resident Canada geese (Branta canadensis) have caused increased nuisance problems in urban and suburban communities. Hazing, or persistent harassment, is often recommended as a nonlethal management strategy to alleviate these problems. Does hazing simply cause a local redistribution of birds, or can it solve nuisance problems by pushing geese to rural areas where hunting mortality could reduce the population? To answer this question, we marked 368 adult and 400 juvenile geese with leg bands in 1 urban and 1 suburban community in western New York State during June 2002 and 2003. This sample included 30 adult females with radio-transmitters and 151 adults with individually coded neck bands. From August 15 to September 25 and October 25 to November 15, we subjected these geese and their flock mates to post-molt hazing with border collies, lasers, pyrotechnics, remote-controlled boats, strobe lights, kayaks, a goose distress call device, or a combination of these techniques. Hazing was most successful using border collies in conjunction with remote-controlled boats (>90% of geese removed in 97% of 37 events), border collies alone (94% of 113 events), and nocturnal use of lasers (64% of 134 events). Radio-marked individuals demonstrated a strong affinity to hazing sites, averaging 16.9 hazing events per individual. Geese moved to areas where hazing was not permitted and were available for hazing only 51% of the time (n = 739). Geese moved 1.18 km (SD = 0.91) events, which was not far enough to place them in areas open to hunting. Although hunting was permitted >5 km from hazing treatment sites, only 13% (SE = 0.01) of adult geese and 7% (SE = 0.01) of juveniles were harvested in 2 years. Hazing alone is unlikely to reduce goose populations in urban and suburban communities by exposing them to hunting in adjacent rural areas.