U.S. Department of Agriculture: Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service


Date of this Version

Fall 2009


Published in Human–Wildlife Conflicts 3(2):242–250, Fall 2009.


Canada geese (Branta canadensis) often cause significant damage when they strike aircraft. They are responsible for a reported minimum of $2.6 million in damage per year to civil aviation in the United States. Knowledge of goose movements in relation to airports would allow wildlife managers to allocate time and funds to manage those populations that pose the greatest threat to aircraft. We placed alpha-numeric neck collars on 300 Canada geese within 8 km of both John F. Kennedy International Airport (JFKIA) and LaGuardia Airport in New York, New York. We conducted weekly observations for 2 years within a 12- km radius of JFKIA at locations used by the geese. At the conclusion of the study, 45% of the collared geese remained within an 8-km radius of JFKIA, and four were killed at JFKIA during wildlife control operations. We observed birds at their original banding sites 75% of the time, and within 5 km of the banding location 95% of the time. Geese that remained in the study area were re-sighted at a mean straight-line distance of 3.6 (±3.1) km from their original banding location. We note that 78% of the re-sighting locations used by geese were within 8 km of JFKIA and that movements of these geese could take them over or onto JFKIA. Oiling goose eggs to kill the embryos, rounding up of flightless birds within 8 km of the airport, and bird-control activities at JFKIA and nearby areas all should be continued to reduce the probability of a catastrophic bird strike between aircraft using JFKIA and local Canada geese.