At the August 2012 WHLSPOA meeting, my intent in mentioning my new-found dislike of Canada geese was to open a discussion as to what we should do about them. Over the years I have enjoyed watching adorable little yellow goslings in a single file follow their mom (I assume) while the dad (I think) herds and keeps a watchful eye on his progeny. It has been heart warming to observe true love and responsibility in a monogamous lifelong relationship. Yet my opinion has changed recently as it appears to me that every year we have more and more resident geese, which are prolific poopers, on our lovely lake. My neighbors get a kick (or maybe they are appalled or think i’m nuts) watching me clap my hands, yell and chase these birds with a broom.
About Canada GeeseI certainly don’t have any specific answers but draw your attention to an article on Canada Geese by the Connecticut Department of Energy and Environmental Protection (DEEP) some of whose recommended control measure I’ve captured below. Before getting into that, there were several key points on geese that caught my attention I’d like to share.
Geese are classified by two distinct groups … year-round resident geese and migratory. The migratory geese that transit CT have bred in Newfoundland, Labrador or Northern Quebec, and arrive in Connecticut in early October. Typically they leave for sunnier climes as the lakes and ponds freeze – late December to early January. The resident geese remain here year-round, but interestingly, can serve as decoys attracting the large migratory flocks.
Recommended Control MeasuresMost of the recommended control measures are designed to discourage geese from taking up residence at your (our) lake or pond. This is especially important in light of the “decoy” nature of Geese being attracted to where Geese are already.
- Do Not Feed — using food to attract waterfowl is counterproductive and unfair to both the birds and your neighbors.
- Modify habitats — plant unpalatable vegetation such as pachysandra, allow grass to grow longer and plant hedges or visual barriers between feeding areas and water.
- Erect barriers — erect low fences, especially in June and July when geese are molting and unable to fly. Three foot high chicken wire, welded wire or even soft or nylon or polyethelene fences can be used.
- Frighten birds — this method needs to be planned and implemented early and consistently. Even a single remaining bird can become that decoy. See the State of Connecticut DEEP article for more details. But in a nutshell, the recommended practices include: shell-crackers, whistler rockets, tethered ballons and trained dogs.
Another local source I gleaned information from was an article run June 4, 2012 in the Danbury.Patch.com. Several residents discussed approaches they’d taken to reduce issues associated with Canada geese. Canada geese prefer an open habitat where predators would be visible. The Danbury and Lake Kenosia Commission lined their lake’s beach with an 8-10 foot deep bed of plants which have now matured. A recent count found three goose droppings on the protected side and on the other side which is lawn and soccer fields, they used the term Goose Super Pooper Highway!
Also quoted were officials from Danbury’s Richter Park Golf Course which has had success reducing a flock once estimated at 1200 to 1400 down to 200 geese today. They had permission from CT DEEP to shoot the geese, addle or coat eggs, use Coyote decoys and virtually all of the Connecticut DEEP described methods to manage geese. Golf courses and any lawn becomes an attraction to the geese – who eat the grass – and on a golf course this is an untenable situation. Danbury’s Associated Director of Health was quoted as saying that goose poop is a real public health issue since it raises fecal coliform counts in the water. “The lifeguards are trained to clean up the pooh on the beaches each morning, and discard it in garbage cans, not into the lake.” He said they go out to the floating docks and collect that as well without washing it into the water.
In conclusion, I personally would love to watch the beautiful Canada geese fly over the autumn sky in their iconic V formation away from West Hill Lake forever. But in the interest of protecting the lake water quality, I’d prefer they keep on their way rather than stop.
Please share any ideas you might have.