When spring returns to Lake Gardner we can expect to see the Canada Geese return. Each year as this Canada Goose population has grown, our yards, parks, lakes are increasingly fouled with goose feces. The problem has continued to escalate in recent years, and this year our town will begin to take steps to help reduce the population through barrier fencing at the Lake Gardner Beach & Dam area.
This informational guide is being provided as a courtesy of the Lake Gardner Improvement Association. Through it we hope to inform homeowners how they can help control the goose problem on their property and our lake. It explains why problems with geese arise and how homeowners can reduce these problems.
Why are there so many geese returning each year?
The main reason for this increase is that we have inadvertently created a goose nesting paradise in our area by combining two habitat features that Canada geese like: mowed lawns and lakes. Geese prefer to eat low-fiber grass, high in protein and carbohydrates. When you mow your lawn, you increase the number of new, low-fiber grass blades. When you fertilize, you add nutrients that increase the protein and carbohydrate content. A mowed, fertilized lawn is perfect goose food. With a nearby lake to provide a landing and take-off site, drinking water, and a place to escape from dogs and humans, life looks pretty good to a nesting goose. In addition, there are few wild predators in town to threaten eggs or goslings.
Female geese usually return to nest in the area where they learned to fly. Every year more and more geese return. Geese can live as long as 20 years, so there are many generations of geese returning every year. The result is the population explosion you have noticed in your neighborhood.
How can I get the geese to leave?
No matter which methods you try, you must respond quickly, you must be persistent, and best results are achieved when you use more than one method at a time.
The effectiveness of these methods often depends on whether the geese are walking or flying into your yard. In March and April, when geese return, the flocks are attracted to the first grassy areas and lakes and ponds free of ice. During May and early June the geese disperse to nest. In late June, geese are molting and cannot fly. After the molt, the flocks remain together but can once again fly to large, grassy fields all over town. Geese usually leave in late October or November.
Stop All Feeding - Homeowner efforts to frighten geese away are often frustrated by people feeding the geese next door or across the lake. If you or your neighbors are feeding Canada Geese, you might as well give up trying to scare them away.
Hazing - In some cases, repeatedly and vigorously chasing geese from your property while armed with a broom or water hose will cause the geese to relocate. Hazing is most effective when the geese first arrive. When geese are molting and flightless, hazing is less effective than temporary barrier fencing. A permit is not required to scare, repel, or herd geese to protect your property, provided no attempt is made to confine, injure, or kill the birds.
Barrier Fencing - Barrier fencing is a very effective method for excluding walking geese from your yard. This method consists of placing a physical barrier that geese cannot pass through between the water and the area you want to protect. Barrier fences can be purchased or constructed from woven wire, plastic construction fence, chain link, netting, wood, or boulders. Retractable fencing is also available from Lake Restoration, Inc. An effective barrier fence for walking Canada geese uses durable material with openings no larger than 3 inches by 3 inches that is at least 24 inches high. Before you build any fence, check local ordinances and subdivision covenants. However, low fences may also be a temporary solution when geese have young or are molting. For example, 5 strands of 20-pound-test monofilament fishing line, strung at 4, 8, 12, 18, and 24 inches above the ground will exclude walking geese. Flag the lines to warn people, and expect pets and wildlife to knock them awry.
Repellents - Two Canada goose repellents, Turf Shield® and ReJex-iT® AG-36, are registered for turf and lawn. The active ingredient, methyl anthranilate, is made from natural, biodegradable, food-grade ingredients, and is not toxic to humans, dogs, cats, or birds. Methyl anthranilate must be carefully applied to be effective. Failure to properly apply it may not decrease goose problems, or may “burn” grass or injure fish.
Landscaping - Landscaping your property to make it less attractive to Canada geese and their broods is considered the most effective long-term and environmentally sound method of reducing goose problems to individual yards and lawns. Canada geese avoid feeding and loafing in areas where plants obstruct their view of the surrounding area. A hedge near the water with a gate to allow human access can be decorative as well as effective at reducing goose access to your lawns. The hedge should be at least 30 inches tall and must be dense enough to exclude geese. Or leave (or plant) a dense strip of naturally occurring trees and shrubs (20-30 feet wide) along the shoreline. A narrow (3-4 feet wide) S-shaped footpath can provide access to the lake (see Figure 5). An unmowed shoreline buffer of native grasses and wild flowers that grow 20-30 inches tall in a strip 20-30 feet wide along the shoreline can discourage goose visits. Use a mowed S-shaped footpath (3-4 feet wide) to provide access from your yard to the shoreline.
Sources of Supplies
Traditional barrier fencing supplies are available from most hardware/garden supply stores.
Goose D-Fence Set – A removable fence system
Lake Restoration, Inc,
Rogers Minnesota 55374
Toll free: (877) 428-8898 - http://www.lakerestoration.com/
Flight Control - lawn spray goose repellent
Phone: 732-929-4657 http://www.flightcontrol.com
Bird Shield Repellent Corp. - lawn spray goose repellent
P.O. Box 785
Pullman, WA 99163
Tel. 509-332-1989 (Turf Shield®) - http://www.birdshield.com