Canada Geese Management
Canada Geese (Branta canadensis), like all wildlife are a valued aspect of parks. But we have to remember that these birds are wild animals and they need to be treated as such. For example when people feed geese in parks they are actually doing harm to the geese and the parks. Feeding geese habituates the wild birds to associate people with food. Habituated geese tend to quit migrating and become year-round residents to an area. Canada geese are migratory birds. They typically migrate north in the spring to their breeding grounds and south in the fall to their wintering grounds. Surveys have shown that geese in the Bend area are abandoning their natural migration cycle and becoming full time residents. This can be attributed to several factors but two significant ones are the abundance in food and the reduced number of natural predators.
History has shown that when geese populations are too high in parks there are numerous issues that arise for both the geese and recreationist park visitors. To avoid these issues the district is working with the USDA Wildlife Services and Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife to maintain a healthy number of geese within the park system. With the help of our wildlife partners, the district has developed a Canada Goose Management Plan.
Listed below are three activities in the plan that have proven successful in managing the goose population.
- Egg Addling or Oiling: Geese nests are located and the eggs are covered in vegetable oil. Geese are now starting to pair up preparing to mate and reproduce. Nest locating and egg oiling will start the beginning of April and continue through the end of May.
- Hazing: Hazing is done with dogs, people, noise makers, and light lasers. District and USDA Wildlife Services employees, along with dedicated volunteers, use their trained dogs to haze geese both in river parks and on the Deschutes River. Using dogs to haze is very effective since the geese identify dogs as predators. So if you see a dog off leash in a river park or swimming in the river with a yellow bandana around its neck it is helping us haze geese. We have 15 volunteers with 17 trained dogs hazing. They average about 45 hazing hours a month both on land and in the river.
- Capture and Relocating: Another strategy used to help geese act naturally is to relocate geese at a time in their life that they can habituate to a new environment. To discourage future generations of residential geese, juveniles are captured and relocated to a state wildlife reservoir. The juveniles are tagged as a reference for future surveys. This program has been implement for the past three years. USDA Wildlife Services has not seen a tagged juvenile return in those last three years. 41 juveniles were relocated in 2013.
In addition, maintaining dense riparian vegetation along the river is also a major deterrent for the geese going into a park. Miller’s Land Park is a great example; with the dense native vegetation along its banks has discouraged geese from hanging out in that park.
Details of Canada Goose Management Plan timeline:
- Mid-March to mid-May: USDA Wildlife Services and park district employees will continue to locate nests and oil eggs. This process started in March and will continue through May. Volunteers with dogs continue to haze the adults without juveniles. Hazing will be minimal to allow the birds to pair up and mate. Hazing during this time will only be on non-mating adults.
- Mid-May to mid-June: Intense hazing will be conducted by USDA Wildlife Services employees, district staff and volunteers to trigger a molt migration. Studies show that geese will migrate right before they molt if they feel threatened.
- Mid-June to mid-July: When geese feathers molt and the birds are unable to fly. Hazing is stopped during this time. During this time is when the capture and relocation will occur if deemed necessary.
- Mid-July thru February: Hazing will resume until March when the cycle starts over again.
How you can help Canada Geese in our parks and community:
- Don’t feed the geese and ducks. By feeding the geese and ducks, you encourage birds to stay in the area and disrupt their natural migration instincts. It’s unhealthy for the animals and creates more “poo-lution” in our parks as well.
For more information on the Canada Goose Management Plan, please contact Jeff Amaral, BPRD Natural Resources Manager, JeffA@bendparksandrec.org or (541) 706-6202.