What to do when flightless geese make a molting mess.
The Canada goose thrives in a variety of habitats, including such areas as neighborhood ponds, office complexes, city parks and other developed areas. This ability to habitat-adapt sometimes bring them near people. This closeness can be frustrating for homeowners and property managers when geese begin to molt in the summer, according to the Georgia Department of Natural Resources’ Wildlife Resources Division (WRD).
“Our offices typically report an increase of nuisance calls about Canada geese in late June and early July. This increase is almost certainly caused by the fact that geese seem to be ‘hanging around’ an area longer than usual,” says Kara Nitschke, migratory gamebird biologist with the WRD Game Management Section. “They are hanging around because they cannot fly right now. Geese go through a molting process in midsummer during which they lose their flight feathers and are in the process of growing new ones.”
What can you do if you have goose problems? Most times of the year, geese can be deterred with the use of harassment techniques. But, because geese cannot fly during the molt, these techniques may not work right now. During the molting season, WRD personnel encourage affected property managers and homeowners to be patient. The new feathers will soon grow in, and the geese will regain their ability to fly and will likely move on.
However, if geese continue to cause problems, here are a few tips to try:
- Harassment: First, try a variety of harassment techniques (also called hazing), including metallic streamers/tape, noise makers, or even trained herding dogs. These techniques may scare the geese away from your property.
- Chemical Repellents: Repellents can be sprayed on the grass in your yard to deter geese from feeding in treated areas. Most repellents require re-application after mowing or after rains.
- Physical Barriers: Barriers, such as wire or string 12-18 inches above the ground, or heavy vegetation (like cattails), along property lines or the shoreline can deter geese from using your property. This method requires consistency from the property owner and may not always be 100% effective.
- Special Permits to Remove Geese: In cases where the above techniques have been unsuccessful, homeowners who want to reduce or eliminate the goose population on their property can obtain a permit from their local WRD Game Management office (www.georgiawildlife.com/about/contact). This permit allows for the legal and lethal removal of the animals. The removal can be done by the homeowner or by a licensed nuisance wildlife trapper (list found at https://gadnrle.org/special-permits#nuisance).
It is important to remember that Canada geese are a protected species under state and federal law. It is illegal to hunt, kill, sell, purchase or possess Canada geese except according to Georgia's migratory bird regulations.
For more tips and information about Canada geese, go to www.georgiawildlife.com (click on “Living With Wildlife” on the home page, and then scroll down and click on “Canada Geese”).