Canada Geese in urban environments
When discussing urban goose populations, the issues that are typically mentioned include:
Congregating Canada geese can lead to the accumulation of goose droppings. In some cases, the amount of goose droppings can cause people to avoid some parks and fields due to the amount of waste. Its slippery nature could also pose a danger on pathways and slopes. Although often cited as a concern, goose waste is not considered a special health threat to humans and other animals in urban settings. Still, it has been found that goose droppings do harbour some of the bacteria associated with disease. When contact with goose droppings is unavoidable, good hygiene is a suitable preventative measure. Regardless of any risks, walking through grass where geese have been can be an unpleasant experience.
Damage to Turf and Lawn
Geese will feed on lawn and grass in parks, on fields, at golf courses and in yards. They require large amounts of food to sustain them, feeding up to 12 hours a day. Over-grazing can result in bare spots and compaction of turf and may increase the chance of erosion near water bodies.
Many geese in the City of Winnipeg will nest near roads and in parking lots. Once goslings have hatched, their parents will move them closer to water. In some areas this movement results in gaggles of geese attempting to cross busy roads. Many drivers will avoid running over geese and their goslings, but sudden stopping could result in accident and injury.
Geese are great communicators and at their most vocal during mating season and when staging for migration. Geese are quite social and vocalize during mating rituals, communicating when to take off and when to land, and for telling other geese to stay off their territory. They are often loudest at dusk, dawn and even throughout the night.
Aggressive displays by birds are usually due to human presence around nests and goslings. Geese will defend against any perceived threat to their eggs and young often hissing, lowering their heads and sometimes flying at the threat. When geese become accustomed to being fed by people, they often will act in a way that seems pushy or even aggressive as they seek food from the public.
It is easy to focus on the issues stemming from Canada goose populations, but some of the benefits of Canada goose populations include:
- The enjoyment of following geese through their life stages - from hatching to flight, from fluffy yellow goslings to birds indistinguishable from their parents.
- Opportunities to enjoy nature without leaving the City.
- Opportunities to learn about animals and animal behaviour.
- Defining the change of seasons: their migration tells us spring is coming and winter is on its way.
- Recreational value for bird-watchers and photographers.
Depending on the person and their experiences with geese, the positive aspects of urban geese may outweigh any negative aspects. In fact, in some parks, visiting geese and other waterfowl is one of the main attractions.