Post written by Dita Beard
Many citizens become frustrated when Canada Geese occupy our favorite outdoor recreation areas, especially those with bodies of water. Communities can be torn when faced with how manage citizen frustration and support wildlife. Often, lethal and other non-humane strategies are taken, but these strategies are ineffective over the long run.
The problem arose because various national and local agencies resolved to save the Canada geese after overhunting and the use of decoys brought them to the brink of extinction decades ago. Unfortunately, the tactics used to bolster the population of the Canada Goose resulted in non-migrating birds hatched outside of Canada. Due to predator avoidance and nesting behaviors, they tend to seek out areas with bodies of water and plenty of grass to eat nearby – areas that in urban and suburban settings are also in high demand for recreational use by local residents. The overabundance of the Canada Goose and their fecal matter obstruct use of many areas for people and often create great community conflict over how to address the problem. Because they are biologically driven to protect their young and cannot fly during molting season, they appear resistant to any humane attempts to chase them off. The complex problem clearly needed a customized and complex solution.
Luckily, David Feld, a systems engineer, came up with a solution. In an interview with Grist magazine, Feld explains that when his Virginia community faced this problem, he took it upon himself as a community leader to formulate an effective and humane solution. Thus was born GeesePeace. GeesePeace is a program that works with the biologically mandated behaviors and life cycle activities of the geese. From eggs to molting adults, this program can humanely and effectively redirect geese to areas that do not pose a conflict with human recreational needs. The proper implementation of the program yields significant population decreases often in less than a year, and since its inception has become internationally utilized.
GeesePeace provides training, education and step-by-step protocols for population stabilization and site aversion. Population stabilization is done through “addling” the eggs that have not yet developed into embryos by coating them in oil and strategically destroying nests causing geese to relocate. When the adults are preparing to molt after the first round of egg addling, with no goslings to tend to, they are able to migrate before they molt when faced with the site aversion tactics. The site aversion is achieved with border collies whose presence causes the geese to see the location as no longer safe.
Deer Peace uses the same strategy customized for deer population control, which is another common complex source of human-wildlife conflict. Using the biologically-driven behavior of a given species to inform redirection strategies, effective and humane solutions emerge that benefit all parties involved and allow for a balanced population of wildlife for urban and suburban residents to enjoy without conflict. Hopefully this method can be developed as a model for all human-wildlife conflict in urban areas.
David Feld, director of GeesePeace, answers questions. (2007, February 19). Retrieved February 18, 2015, from http://grist.org/article/feld/full/
DeerPeace. (n.d.). Retrieved February 18, 2015, from http://www.deerpeace.org/DeerPeace1.html
Geese Peace Program. (n.d.). Retrieved February 18, 2015, from http://www.geesepeace.com