The Canada goose is a fascinating bird, it has a wingspan of up to 6 feet, and it can weigh as much as 14 lbs. Watching these birds at a pond or lake and feeding them by hand can be a rewarding experience. But, when Canada geese move into your yard, they soon start to outstay their welcome. How to get rid of geese? Is a popular question for good reasons; they leave droppings everywhere, and they can get aggressive if they feel cornered. These geese can live up to 10 years of age, and some live for much longer, and this means that the problem is not going to be resolved easily. Of course, most people don’t want to hurt or kill a wild bird that’s just doing what it does naturally. So, learning how to get rid of geese with kindness is the better option, and that will be the focus of this article.
Before we can learn how to get rid of Canada geese, it will be easier when you can recognize them from other types of geese. Identification is easier than you may imagine. The Canada goose has a long black neck and head with white cheeks and chin strap. The torso is a gray/brown color on top, and underneath, it’s white with black legs and webbed feet. The bill is black and flat, and it’s hard to distinguish between males and females, but males are usually larger. The only similar looking goose is the wonderfully named Cackling Goose (Branta Hutchinsii), but even this bird lacks some essential features of Canada geese. There are many geese that can be a problem for homeowners, and the humane removal methods covered in this article should work on all geese.
All geese are naturally drawn to flat grassy areas around a clean surface water area. These are the ideal conditions to find food, and homeowners with ponds bordered by pristine lawns are most at risk. Another factor is feeding; if you encounter geese and feed them bread, they are far more likely to make themselves at home.
At this point, it’s natural to think that this scenario sounds pretty idyllic, and most people like to have close encounters with friendly wildlife. So, why would you even want to know how to get rid of geese in the yard?
The main problem caused by geese is their droppings which seem to multiply at a rapid rate. Goose droppings will damage the grass, and the water source will become polluted. If you’re a keen gardener or you like to grow food, you’re in for a nasty surprise. Geese will feed on a wide variety of grains, and they supplement their diet with your tasty plants. If you have a goose infestation be prepared to lose a lot of plants in your yard.
Another harmful characteristic of goose droppings is that they contain a number of harmful microorganisms, including bacteria, viruses, E.coli, and parasites. This material will coat the paths, grass, and driveways, and it represents a health risk for people and animals. This poop is also a slipping and tripping hazard because it’s slimy, and it reduces traction if you walk over it.
Many people understand that geese can be aggressive under certain conditions. If there are younger geese present, they will attack, and they are quite capable of knocking over and even biting smaller children.
When geese graze on the lawn, they will lower the grass length to less than 3⅔” high. This is the optimal height for mowing, and shorter grass will damage the health of the entire lawn. The minimum height for grass is 2½”, but a goose doesn’t care about that, and barren patches of lawn will appear.
Canada geese are also loud, they honk regularly, and this doesn’t stop when the sun goes down. A honking goose can be louder than a barking dog which will lead to a disturbed night’s sleep.
Finding the best bird repellers and using other techniques to keep the geese away can be a hit and miss affair. Canadian geese can be pretty smart, and you may need to try more than one approach until you hit on one that gets the job done. Here are nine of the best ways to get rid of geese in ponds and yards.
Using water to frighten away Canada geese has a certain poetry to it. But, this can be an effective method because these geese like water, and yet they hate it when it’s splashed on their bodies. Using a motion-activated sprinkler system can scare geese away from the water sources near your home. This is an environmentally sound approach. It’s safe for the homeowner and the Canada geese too. A motion-activated sprinkler can even be placed near the plants and veggie patches to keep them safe. A good sprinkler can cover up to 1,200 sq ft., and several can be spread in vulnerable locations. There are two potential drawbacks, the water usage will be higher, and overwatering could be a risk if the geese are persistent.
Geese like shorter grass because they can easily detect the presence of predators that could be lurking in longer grass. Keeping the grass longer than 6” may deter a Canada goose from making a home in your yard. But, if you’re searching for how to get rid of geese on lakes and ponds, this method may be less effective. Surface water sources are a real draw for geese, and it may be necessary to have grass up to 20” to deter them. Keeping the grass long around water may be impractical and unsightly, but there are other options. Planting rushes, cattails, and certain long warm-season grasses can improve the aesthetic appeal of the pond and deter geese at the same time.
Installing a simulated predator such as a coyote decoy can be an excellent deterrent for geese, and it’s an affordable solution if it works. There are many predators that hunt geese, and a decoy can force birds to leave the area. There are people that have had success with a simple homemade silhouette decoy. But, in most cases, these simple decoys are simply not realistic for a savvy goose.
The predator that you choose may be closely related to where you live. As an example: geese in Florida will avoid alligator decoys. Fake coyotes and dogs work well in many locations, and a fake dead goose tends to make live geese uneasy about the location.
Swans have a very low tolerance for Canada goose shenanigans, and fake swans on the surface of the water could be a good deterrent.
A goose may be deterred by a strobe light that may scare them away during the day or night. There are two main devices that fall into this category. The first is sound activated, and the second will strobe throughout the night. The idea of a pulsing light may seem like a real problem for people living in the home and surrounding areas. But, with careful and creative placement, it is possible to cover the rear and sides of the home without covering the home in too much light. This type of device has a significant disadvantage because it can attract mosquitoes and other bugs. But, the better models have customizable settings that can be programmed for exposure times and intervals. This will prevent the flooding of insects into the porch and outdoor entertainment areas.
One of the most effective Canada goose deterrent options is a liquid bird repellent that is safe and easy to use. These substances usually contain a chemical called Methyl.Anthranilate (MA) can be sprayed or fogged onto large areas. This may sound strange, but this is a safe formula that has a grape odor when it’s sprayed onto surfaces. The nano-particles in the goose repellent irritate their receptors, and they tend to shy away from treated areas. This formula is effective in deterring geese, but it’s also a good option for other nuisance birds, including blackbirds, gulls, pigeons, starlings, and others. All of these birds will be less likely to seek a home in your yard if liquid geese repellent is present. If you want a low-cost alternative, you can spray or fog grape flavored Kool_aid on the grass because it also contains the MA formula.
An electronic predator call can be effective because Canada geese don’t like loud and scary noises. If you have geese investigating your property, they will feel less at home if they can hear the sounds of potential predators. This is especially true if they are looking for a place to live over winter or they are searching for a nesting area in spring. If you own a dog, then their bark may be enough to scare a goose away, and they can live in peace somewhere else. When dogs are barking at geese, this should be encouraged because it will be clear that they are not welcome. If you don’t own a dog, you can make recordings of dogs or other predators and play the sounds with a Bluetooth speaker that you can position outdoors. Another popular option is to create other unpleasant and loud noises that a goose will not enjoy, such as loud rock music, banging pots and pans, and periodic shouting. As an added bonus, these techniques work equally well if you’re investigating how to get rid of grackles or other nuisance birds.
If you have a pond in your yard, it may be a good idea to surround the perimeter with mesh or wire fencing. This is not a viable solution if you have a larger surface water area to cover or if your property is situated next to a lake or river. It may be possible to fence the perimeter that runs alongside the water source, but that may be impractical. This method can be successful if it’s paired with other Canada goose deterrent techniques, such as the predator decoys, longer grass, and liquids fogged or sprayed nearby. The preferred course of action is to make it difficult for the geese to stroll into the water and then come back onto dry land in your yard. Remember that geese are good flyers, but they prefer easy access to the water. If you choose to run wire across the pond to prevent the geese from landing and swimming, there is a good technique to try. Run the wire in a checkerboard pattern that can create 10”-12” squares at a height of 8” off the surface of the water. This is an obstacle that geese will not overcome easily, and it works well with other larger birds too.
Controlling and deterring Canada geese can be a real challenge, and eliminating their sources of food can be helpful. But, there is a real problem; these geese have a very versatile diet, and they are quite adaptable to new food sources. Given the opportunity, geese will eat human food, and they may even prefer it after a while. So, it’s important to keep your garbage secure to block off a potential food source that geese will be attracted to. Most geese will restrict their feeding to your grass if there are no other easy food sources in the area. They also love to eat legumes, and keen vegetable gardeners must take steps to protect their crops.
Varying the grass seed from year to year may prevent familiarity with grass that could prevent a goose from returning.
As we mentioned earlier, spraying the grass with MA makes the grass taste disgusting. If you have regular visitors and neighbors, make sure they understand that they shouldn’t feed the geese on your property. This is a kindness; geese may like human food, but salt and grease are bad for them, and it lacks the nutrients that they need to stay healthy.
We mentioned earlier that dogs could be a very effective deterrent when you have a Canada goose infestation problem. In fact, the mere presence of a dog barking at the geese may prevent them from coming into the yard. There are three dog breeds that are an ideal choice as pets and a goose deterrent; they are German Shepherds, Border Collies, and Australian Cattle Dogs. Let’s look at each of these three dog breeds in a little more detail:
If you decide to adopt or borrow a dog, remember that they have needs too. Always have a bowl of clean water out to keep them hydrated and shelter them from the elements. The dog should be fed once a day, and treats are a great motivator if you’re training them to hassle geese.
The old adage, prevention is better than the cure, can be applied to the removal of a goose infestation. If you have a large lawn that is bordered by a pond, you’re opening yourself up to some unwanted Canada goose visitors. As we mentioned earlier, there are two main reasons why a goose would want to set up in your yard.
The best way to make your yard less attractive to geese is to reduce the lawn size and to introduce areas where a predator could be hiding. The easiest method is to remove some grass and replace it with shrubs. This will add to the aesthetic appeal of a garden, and the goose will be nervous because predators may be lurking nearby.
When Canada geese begin to visit your property, it can be a fun novelty because most people enjoy interacting with nature. But, this feeling will disappear quickly when the geese damage the lawn, honk loudly, and spread contaminated poop throughout the yard. This problem should be approached in a methodical manner, and it’s a good idea to observe the habits of the geese before action is taken. If they are seeking nesting spots or grazing in certain areas, these places are the ideal locations for deterrence efforts. Now that you have a better idea of how to get rid of geese, it’s time to put these techniques into practice to get your yard back to normal.