June 27, 2014 6:18 pm

How to avoid a negative encounter with a Canada goose

MISSISSAUGA – Following a serious accident involving an OPP officer riding a motorcycle and a goose, near Barrie, Ontario and another involving an Ottawa-area woman on bicycle, officials are warning against an increase in conflicts unless people learn how to better deal with geese.

According to conservationists, goose-related incidents with humans are likely to increase.

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Canadian Wildlife Service says there are about 400,000 Canada geese in the southern regions of Ontario. That number has levelled off because of population management programs, said Credit Valley Conservation manager of natural heritage Bob Morris.

“I think we can anticipate more conflicts, unless we start taking some steps to control their numbers, and their behaviour.”

So how do humans control goose numbers and behaviours?  Here’s a list of things you can do to discourage negative human-geese interactions, according to Credit Valley Conservation.

1)       Grow taller grasses. 

Geese are attracted to short-cut lawns.

“They thrive on the nitrogen in that young grass,”said Morris. “We’re not asking you to convert your lawn to tall grass everywhere, but if you can break up the sight lines – just put hedge rows or tall grass strips.”

2)     Redesign parking lots.  

The goose’s “most demanding requirement is the ability to see predators coming,” said Morris. That’s why goose and gander often choose such spaces to build nests and raise hatchlings.

“We create those wide open spaces,” he said.

Once vehicles are gone, at least from places of business,  the timing is right.  Predators come out at dusk, so they have a clear sight line of potential danger.  Breaking up the spaces with hedgerows and thicker, taller trees can also prevent goose and gander from setting up a nest.

3)     Don’t feed the geese.

“It’s not unlike what we say with bears,” said Morris.  Feed them and they will come back.

4)     Beware of being too wary.

Canada geese are growing increasingly adaptive.

“Thirty years ago, Canada geese almost always landed and took off from water,” said Morris. “They have now adapted and learned to land and take off on land.”

He said geese are now landing on top of billboards and trees, learning cars will stop for them, and teaching their young these new habits.

Morris isn’t suggesting to purposely drive toward any birds, but he does agree they will pick certain paths they have taken before to cross streets.

“They will go there again, and again.”

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