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January 30 2012 2 30 /01 /January /2012 17:53

by Terra Anders

Residential lakeside homes are sought after for their wonderful views, and temperate climates.  They also often have to deal with pest birds, like geese.  Homes that have large lawns with a clear line of vision from the grass to the shoreline may find geese settling there in increasing numbers.  Geese are grazers, so they like to waddle around snacking on grass and seeds in the lawn. Large groups of geese can be seen settled on lawns, sunning and preening themselves while keeping an eye out for predators. These habits make a large grassy area with a fast, visible escape route to the water, a sought after commodity for geese. As beautiful as they are to look at, these large birds soon wear out their welcome. They can quickly increase in numbers, fouling the grass, sand or boat docks with their droppings. 

The lovely Canada Goose is quite prolific, starting their reproductive life at about 2 years of age.  An average goose couple can produce about four offspring each year.  Since the geese live to be about ten or eleven years, that means that just one pair of geese and their offsprings alone can increase the gaggle to several hundred in just a few years!  If homeowners have not built in well-planned goose deterrents, the mess left by the geese families can depreciate the value of the property considerably.

Hunting geese as a means of controlling the population is frowned upon by many, it is actually a realistic means of controlling goose populations in some areas.  It is allowed in some states, but only under very controlled conditions.  Never shoot Canadian Geese on a property before first checking with the local Department of Fish and Wildlife authorities.  They can provide hunting limitations, removal guidelines and rules that should be followed without compromise.

Actually, some basic landscaping tips and a couple of easy goose control methods can be employed to keep the geese population in check and property cleaner, safer and more pleasant. Geese look for three main things when selecting their long-term residence: safety, food and adequate tall water grasses for nesting. Any kind of effective geese deterrent plan must address all three of these.

Goose-Resistant Landscaping: Making your shoreline less attractive to geese, but still a lovely view for humans isn’t as tough as it wounds. Eliminating the clear view line from grass to water is probably the most effective landscaping technique.  This can be done by setting up a physical barrier of some kind between water and grass. Wire mesh or polyurethane bird netting, even a white picket fence will work as long as the mesh or slat distance is no larger than 3 inches, and fences are at least 30 inches high.  Walking geese will not be happy with this.  If a more natural barrier is preferred, consider a very dense decorative hedge or long patch of wildflowers of no less than thirty inches high.  The barrier should be 20-30 feet wide and placed along the shoreline, then reaching back along each side of the lawn.  Any cattails or tall water grasses can remain on the opposite side of the barrier to help keep birds away from the lawn.

Motion Activated Sprinklers: What about those geese that fly in and land on the lawn?  Not to worry, the key is to make them as uncomfortable as possible so they won’t stay.  Sudden, unexpected water bursts into the large open lawn area can be a surprisingly useful geese deterrent.  Motion sensors detect when a bird is within 35 feet of the sensor, activating a water burst sprinkler system that shoots H20 up to 35 feet out and 45 feet across. Geese are unable to settle down and will take their friends and move along quickly.

Lawns that fail the goose taste test:  Geese that have already settled in will need more coaxing to leave.  Spreading non-toxic goose repellent over the lawn (or even along the shoreline) is another useful deterrent. As the geese snack, they eat the grape extract which irritates the nerves in the bird’s nasal passages and other mucous membranes. It is vexing to the geese and they will soon realize there are no more good eats there. The concentrated spray is mixed with water and dispersed using a standard hand-held sprayer.  Mow the law before treating it and re-treat about every four weeks to maintain.

Once their sense of safety has been removed by the landscaping; the nesting areas have been eliminated; and their feeding area is contaminated, the pest geese will leave in search of a more inviting home. Goose control can be environmentally friendly and still work to keep birds away from private property.

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