How NJ towns can get rid of geese without resorting to a gas chamber
Some believe Canada geese are beautiful, but towns all over New Jersey continually struggle to keep the birds from fouling parks, lakes and other recreation areas.
This spring officials in Edgewater came under heavy criticism from animal rights groups for proceeding with a plan to capture and gas the geese to death with carbon dioxide.
According to Aaron Guikema, the state director of the U.S. Department of Agriculture's Wildlife Services Program in New Jersey, there are a number of non-lethal steps that can be taken to keep Canada geese away.
He calls it "an integrated wildlife damage management approach," which means you've got to try it all.
Guikema explained this can include many different methods to make the birds uncomfortable, including a variety of “harassment hazing type techniques, using dogs to try and scare the geese, different types of balloons, propane cannons, lasers, remote controlled vehicles.”
It can also involve “modifying the habitat to make it less attractive to geese. It can be different types of exclusion, which is fencing, different types of plantings that keep geese from having easy access to certain areas.”
He added “there are also a number of repellants that are out there that can be applied to turf, to make the turf unpalatable to geese so then their food source is gone and so they’ll go elsewhere.”
Another anti-geese technique involves managing the nesting of the birds.
He said this can mean “destroying the nests if there are no birds in them to try and get them to nest elsewhere, and egg addling which can be done using corn oil, shaking, puncturing the eggs.”
Guikema stressed anything done to the eggs requires coordination with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service because Canada geese are a protected species.
He stressed using dogs to herd away Canada geese is usually effective because “they’re programmed to try and look out for predators and they see a dog as a predator. It’s an engrained response.”
Unfortunately, he says you can’t expect the geese to leave and never come back if you scare them with dogs, explosions or other types of harassment.
“You know it’s something that you have to be diligent with, changing things up, there’s no one magic approach that’s going to work every time,” he said.
Guikema estimated there are currently about 80,000 Canada geese living full time in the Garden State, but he stressed at this time of year it’s especially hard to chase them away because many are now parents, which means they’re going to be with their babies throughout the summer.
If you approach them, they will give a menacing hiss and may chase you.
“There have been instances where aggressive geese have bitten or chased people, and they can lead to injuries,” he said. “People fleeing may fall or the geese may hit them with their wings.”
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