Goose Round-up – ‘Yee-Haw’ – Turfgrass Science at Purdue University

Goose Round-up – ‘Yee-Haw’

The Giant Canada goose (Anatidae: Branta canadensis maxima) recently has become one of the most serious pests of parks and golf courses in the Eastern half of the United States. These geese are probably the most adaptable of all waterfowl and, if left undisturbed, will readily establish nesting territories on ponds in residential subdivisions, condominium complexes, city parks, or on golf courses.  While most people will readily welcome a single pair of geese on a pond, a pair can soon turn into a flock of 50 to 100 birds.   A flock of Canada geese of this size will soon foul ponds and surrounding landscapes and damaging greens, tees and golf course fairways.  In addition to damaging the course, injuries to people who come too close may occur, especially when nests or young are threatened.

Geese can be difficult to disperse once they become established in a golf course pond or feeding site. In the United States, all species and subspecies of the Canada goose, as well as their nests and eggs, are federally protected by the Migratory Bird Treaty Act.  Promptness and persistence are the keys to success when attempting to repel nuisance waterfowl.  Frightening devices and repellents should be put into place as soon as the first geese show up, before the damage starts.  These devices are much less effective after the birds have become acclimated to the site.

In cases where large and persistent flocks of geese have taken up residence over a period of years, it will be beyond the golf course superintendent’s ability to manage them alone.  In such cases, the advice and perhaps the direct assistance of a state (e.g., Dept. of Natural Resources), or federal agency (e.g., U.S. Dept. of Agriculture, Wildlife Services Division) may be required.  These agencies should be consulted and worked with to ensure success. 

Geese, like all waterfowl, molt all of their primary wing feathers at once and become flightless for a short period in early summer (mid-June – early July).  This period of flightlessness can be taken advantage of by conducting a ‘goose round-up’.  This consists of using canoes, RC boats, or trained dogs to herd the geese off of the water and people on land to funnel them into a series of fenced enclosures.  Once the flock is pushed into the small holding pens the geese can be physically captured, restrained and put into approved crates for relocation. This is a costly and time-consuming process that should be used when all other efforts have failed. Remember that capturing and relocating geese requires federal and/or state permits.


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