Discouraging Canada Geese

There is probably no single complaint that gets voiced more frequently by the majority of pond owners than the desire to get rid of Canada Geese. Since they first became established in Pennsylvania in the 1930's, resident Giant Canada geese (Branta canadensis maxima) have undergone rapid increases in population size. Giant Canadas differ from migratory Canada Geese in size (they are nearly 50% heavier) and in their year-round residency. They have been identified as a major problem by landowners because of the damage caused by their feeding on lawns, and by the abundance of feces and feathers often produced.

canadian geese in pond

         A pond in East Marlborough Township supporting up to 200 Canada Geese, which provide creating most of its
         annual nutrient input.

A particular problem facing pond managers is the large quantities of nutrients in the form of goose feces. Indeed the amount of P contributed to a pond by goose poop may exceed all other sources of P combined. A good place to begin developing a management strategy is to consult the United States Department of Agriculture Wildlife Services in Pennsylvania, which provides both advice and contract services. A variety of measures for making ponds less attractive to Canada Geese have been tried by land owners, with varying success. These include 1) modification of shoreline vegetation, 2) the use of dogs, swans and "scaregeese" such as plastic owls or alligators, and 3) the deployment of fences, wires or monofilament line in the pond or on the shoreline.

A fertilized lawn, providing high-quality grazing and directly abutting a pond that provides refuge from predators, is a habitat highly preferred by Canada Geese. Riparian buffer strips of natural vegetation, especially bushes, can greatly lessen the attractiveness of a pond by physically impeding movement from land to water and providing the threat of harboring potential predators. Trees surrounding smaller ponds also make landings and take-offs more difficult. Riparian buffers are thus a good idea, not just for controlling sediment and nutrient flow into the pond (see Section II above), but also for discouraging a principal culprit in nutrient loading.