How to prevent or reduce Canada geese conflicts

Last Updated on March 10, 2021 by Indiana Department of Natural Resources

SOURCE: News release from Indiana Department of Natural Resources

Changing habitat now can help prevent human-goose conflicts later.

Once Canada geese have started using a site, it can be difficult to discourage them from staying there through the season. Preventive action is the best way to deter Canada geese.

Many breeding pairs of Canada geese start looking for nesting locations this time of year. Geese frequently return to areas where they’ve been successful nesting before. They prefer areas within 150 feet of open water that are surrounded by turf grass, which is their favorite food.

If geese are being fed by people, this only encourages them to congregate in large groups and renders attempts to manage them useless. Feeding Canada geese — or any other wildlife — causes the animals to lose fear of humans, increasing the likelihood of conflicts with humans, especially those who have no food for them.  

To discourage Canada geese from nesting at a site, before they nest, you can dissuade them at any time, without a permit from DNR, as long as you don’t harm the birds and don’t violate any local ordinances. Effective techniques can be audial, visual, or physical to include airhorns, whistles, motion sensor lights, predator decoys, and sprinklers.  A complete list can be found at wildlife.IN.gov/3000.htm.

The pre-nesting period is also the ideal time to consider installing temporary or permanent barriers. Common physical barriers include fences, rocks, and strips of native plants. Indiana’s native plants are those that have grown in the state for thousands of years and have adjusted to Indiana’s climate and landscape. Learn more about physical barriers at wildlife.IN.gov/3002.htm.

Once nests are established and for the rest of the nesting season, adult male and female geese will actively defend their nest — this is when most conflicts with humans occur. After the last egg is laid, Canada geese incubate eggs for approximately 28 days. Eggs hatch throughout late April and June. In June and July, adult Canada geese molt their flight feathers around the same time their newly hatched goslings emerge. During this time, using discouragement techniques will not work because neither the adults nor the goslings can fly away.

Canada goose egg and nest management can limit the number of Canada geese produced after nesting. If a Canada goose nest does not have eggs or birds in it, it can be destroyed at any time without a federal permit. Once eggs have been laid, you can take no further action without first registering with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service at epermits.fws.gov/eRCGR/geSI.aspx.   

Remember, using several techniques in combination will be more effective than using just one. Short-term techniques can relieve immediate problems, but long-term solutions are more likely to reduce future conflicts.

Canada goose management plans that have clear actions, community buy-in, and long-term commitment are most likely to be successful. DNR district wildlife biologists can help individuals and communities develop their plans and provide advice specific to the situation. Their contact information is at wildlife.IN.gov/2716.htm.

More information on Canada goose management is at wildlife.IN.gov/2996.htm.