Spring and summer months desperately tempt us to spend time outside on our lawns, parks, golf courses, and lakes. However, this time is also the crucial nesting period for many species of birds, including the Canada Goose. Canada geese are quite large, loud, and aggressive toward anyone they think may be too close to their nests or mate. If a Canada goose has moved into your neighborhood or office park, you’ve definitely thought of getting rid of it, but how?
Canada geese are protected by the Migratory Bird Treaty Act, 16 U.S.C. 703-712. As such, it is highly illegal to in any way harm these birds outside of the legal hunting seasons (usually fall and winter) using the prescribed methods for harvest in areas where hunting is legal. The MBTA is in fact, a set of federal regulations. Thus, harming or killing a Canada goose in violation of the Act could land you in federal court. Trust me when I say that spending the time and money associated with defending an accusation of a federal crime won’t be worth the deed.
Most notably, a famous hunting personality in Illinois recently pled guilty to several violations of the MBTA. As explained in the indictment, the individual had allegedly gone to several local parks, lured the geese and ducks with bread crumbs and then killed the animals to collect their leg and neck bands. Bands are a highly sought after trophy in the waterfowl hunting world and help biologists track bird migration patterns and collect other useful data. The case received national attention and the “hunter” paid enormous fines, even losing his hunting privileges.
Additionally, this protection extends to their nests and eggs. Any destruction or tampering with of the nest of any bird protected under the MBTA, including the Canada goose, is a federal offense. Even if a nest is creating some kind of blockage or slow down for your home or business, it is necessary to contact your local office of wildlife and parks to have the nest, eggs, or birds relocated.
Several legal ways to control the Canada goose population are available. These include using predator decoys that are available at most sporting goods stores, such as a cardboard outline of a coyote or fox. In the southern states, floating plastic alligators in backyard pools can keep the birds at bay. Some dog handlers have devised ways to train border collies or other breeds to chase flocks of the intrusive birds off of park areas and golf courses (we should note that this will require a special permit, so don’t let Fido off the leash just yet).