Services

By: Geese Relief  09-12-2011
Keywords: Goose, geese, Border Collies

Canada Goose populations have dramatically increased in golf courses, schools, parks, airports, commercial and residential areas in and around Oregon because:

     habitat is abundant
geese have a high reproductive potential and a long life span
mortality from hunting and other predation is low


Geese live in a particular area that meets their needs for food, reproduction and security. Together these factors provide a goose habitat. Geese are grazers that feed primarily on short grasses such as those found in parks, lawns and golf courses. They need feeding sites with open vistas and access to lakes and marshes to escape danger. Golf courses, parks and large lawns next to ponds, marshes and lakes often provide all of these ingredients. Docks, yards and beaches provide secure "loafing" sites for preening and sunning.

Canada Geese are extremely prolific. Able to reproduce at 2 or 3 years of age and living to over 20 years, a pair of adult geese raises an average of about 5 young per year. At normal reproduction and mortality, a pond or lake with 3 pairs of adult geese can multiply to nearly 50 birds within 5 years and to over 300 in just 10 years. Being social birds, geese congregate in "flocks," except during the nesting season. Most birds in these flocks are related and return to the same nesting and feeding areas every year.

Did you know that geese:
  eat more than 2-5 pounds of grass per day
produce about 2-3 lbs of waste per day
weigh 5 to 25 pounds
mate for life and will stay together throughout the year
are federally protected by the Migratory Bird Treaty Act

A single adult goose can destroy up to five square feet of turf each day, dropping over two pounds of fecal matter daily. This fouls your facility's lawns, greens, equipment and sidewalks which runs off into your ponds, streams and waterways causing massive algae blooms. Canada Geese prefer to eat grass, especially young succulent shoots, found in abundance on mowed, fertilized lawns, putting greens and fairways. Canada Geese can also become aggressive, charging and even biting your guests, patients, students or employees.

In addition two recently completed United States Department of Agriculture National Wildlife Research Center studies characterized E. coli in goose feces found in urban environments.  Both studies found the overall prevalence of pathogenic E. coli in Canada Goose feces to be 25%. Also four general potentially pathogenic E. coli and two virulence factors were identified. One virulence factor is known to produce severe diarrhea, while the other is associated as a causative agent of infantile meningitis.

Why do we have resident Canada geese?
Oregon now has a large population of resident geese along with the migratory flocks.  The resident geese numbers have risen because of differing factors.  The first being their protection under federal law.  Another is action by environmentalists who have successfully restored the population of these beautiful birds.

What methods can be used to alleviate our goose problem?
There are several other ways to deal with geese but they are not  as effective as Border Collies. The most effective way to humanely control the goose population on your property is to introduce a “predator” into the environment. Since it is not practical (or safe) to reintroduce wolves, coyotes and foxes into commercial and residential areas, specially trained dogs are the natural answer. Geese are “hard wired” to fear foxes and wolves. Unlike other breeds of dogs, border collies look and act like the natural predators geese fear most. Border Collies have a predatory crouch, stalk and stare that they use to move livestock. They creep over the ground silently which panics geese. While the dogs mean no harm, these mannerisms are very unnerving to geese and they soon move on to a “predator” free environment. We sometimes recommend other techniques in conjunction with our services. Scare devices such as flags, mylar tape and balloons do not work alone as the geese quickly learn that they cause no harm. The Border Collies on the other hand, are viewed as predators. Noisemakers and pop guns can be helpful if not overused, again in conjunction with dogs. Turf chemicals need to be reapplied after rain or watering and can be very costly in larger areas  

                                                    
How long does it take?
This highly depends on the site. Typically, it takes 2-4 weeks to  assess the problem and change the feeding and flight habits of the geese. Then it becomes a matter of maintenance

Where do the geese go?

The geese will go wherever they wish, typically to an area where they will not be harassed. There are plenty of "wild" places in our area where the geese are accepted.

What about nests?
It is against the law to harass a nesting goose or to tamper with its’’ nest or eggs. To do so
requires a special permit from the US Department of Fish and Wildlife Service. We will work on your behalf to apply for and obtain this permit which will allow us to perform the egg depredation program.

Why Border Collies and not other breeds?

Border Collies have a herding instinct and are quite content with the chase. Other breeds have kill or retrieve instincts and are not satisfied until they capture and return their prey, leading to  frustration and loss of desire. The geese perceive the Border Collie as a natural predator, seeing them as a wolf, coyote or fox because of their intense "eye." Other breeds are not perceived as predatory.

How do animal rights activists view this service?

There are several animal rights activist groups that condone the use of Border Collies as the only humane way to deal with the Canada Geese problem. Canada Geese are protected under the Migratory Bird Treaty Act of 1918 which made it illegal to harm, take or posses these migratory birds.  PETA (People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals), the United States Department of Agriculture Wildlife Services Division, the United States Department of the Interior/Fish and Wildlife Services and the Humane Society of the United States have all endorsed the use of hazing nuisance Canada Geese with properly trained herding Border Collie.  The coalition to prevent the destruction of the Canada Goose recommends the Border Collie as the method of choice to rid areas such as golf courses, airports, school grounds, recreation fields, corporate parks, etc. of geese.

                 LIFE CYCLE OF A CANADA GOOSE

Mating
Mating season is February to early April.
Geese will find a new mate if the mate is killed or dies.
Geese return to the area of their birth each year to mate  and nest.

Nesting
Nesting season is Mid March to May.
Geese begin to nest at the age of 2.
Geese will return to the exact site of the previous years nest or sometimes a nearby pond or other body of water.
When geese are chased from their traditional nesting area they
find alternative sites to nest.
Geese will appear in pairs during nesting season. A solitary goose typically indicates that a nest is in the vicinity and       "he" is standing guard.
The average number of eggs in a nest is 5-6. However, there can be as many as 10-12.
Incubation time is 28 –– 30 days.

Hatching/Maturing
The goslings will be able to fly in 2-3 months.
During the maturing time the adult geese do not leave the area.
The geese will attack humans while protecting their young.
The maturing period of the goslings overlaps with the molting season for the adults.

Molting
Molting season runs from early June to late July.
Adult geese lose wing feathers during this time and are unable to fly.
Geese can fly again approximately 6 weeks after molting.
Generally by August all geese are able to fly.
During the molt geese need to be near water (any water) for easy escape from predators.

Migration
Migration season is October through March.
Migratory geese flight range can be 2 –– 3 thousand miles.
Migratory geese do not become resident geese unless they are injured.
Resident geese do not know how to migrate.
Resident geese can fly long distances as their migratory cousins, but generally  have learned that it is not necessary.

Generally, during this time (from end of molt to beginning to mating) resident geese will be"pond hopping" and foraging  to find food, water and safety. Although, resident geese have a flight range of 100-200 miles, they typically stay within   a smaller radius.
Migratory geese will "pond hop" and forage during this same period until their migration
habits take them back north for mating

Keywords: Border Collies, geese, Goose, Migratory Bird