LONDON, Ohio – They are a common sight in urban areas, taking up residence along riverbanks and community ponds, stopping traffic as they waddle across roads, and making a fine mess of well-manicured lawns and golf courses. Canada geese are viewed by many as a nuisance, but several options exist to help control their populations. Learn more at Ohio State University's Farm Science Review.
Marne Titchenell and Bill Lynch, Ohio State University Extension wildlife program specialists, will present "Coping with Canada Geese: What Works, What's Legal!" at 12:30 p.m. on Sept. 22 and 23 and 10:30 a.m. on Sept. 24 at the Gwynne Conservation Area Aquatic Amphitheatre. Farm Science Review will take place Sept. 22-24 at the Molly Caren Agricultural Center in London, Ohio.
The specialists will provide visitors will basic biological information and ways to keep the birds off lawns, golf courses or in other urban areas.
"Canada geese have become highly adaptive to habitat change and human activity. That well-manicured lawn and that lush green golf course interspersed with ponds? Canada geese love that environment," said Lynch.
There are 11 subspecies of Canada geese. All are migratory and rarely seen, save for one: the giant Canada goose. It's this species that causes the most problems.
"Their droppings around ponds, lakes, metro parks and other places make their way into the aquatic ecosystem and cause nutrient and algae problems. The geese overgraze grasses, and they can be very aggressive when protecting the nest," said Lynch. "In metro areas, they have become a huge problem. Not to mention they drive out native waterfowl in natural habitats."
Titchenell said that several options exist to drive away Canada geese including using scare tactics and repellents, putting up physical barriers, modifying the habitat to make is less desirable, and hunting them during designed times of the season.
"Canada geese are protected under the Migratory Bird Treaty Act, so outside of hunting season, one can't do a thing to physically harm geese, including the giant Canada geese, without a special nuisance permit," said Titchenell. "But there are methods that do work well to keep geese away."
One method that has potential is using a coyote decoy to scare away Canada geese. The birds have few natural predators, and the coyote is one of them.
"Placing coyote decoys on the property and changing the position of the decoys to simulate the animal establishing it territory scares the geese away," said Lynch. "You definitely have to rotate your methods though. These birds are smart and will eventually figure out the tactic."
Canada geese species were not always a nuisance. Native to North America and common in Ohio when pioneers were settling the area, the birds were practically driven to extinction due to overhunting. In the 1950s, the giant Canada goose was reintroduced to the state as sport, but the popularity of hunting the bird never reached the proportions of earlier times. The non-migratory and adaptive nature quickly domesticated the bird. Within two decades, the giant Canada goose was found in over half of Ohio's counties.
The Gwynne Conservation Area will host over 20 various natural resources seminars during Farm Science Review. Topics include controlling aquatic plants and algae, wetlands, bats, muskrat management, tree identification, emerald ash borer, maple syrup, conservation tree planting, selling timber and native warm season grasses.
For a more detailed schedule, log on to http://fsr.osu.edu and click on "schedule."
Farm Science Review is sponsored by the College of Food, Agricultural, and Environmental Sciences, Ohio State University Extension, and the Ohio Agricultural Research and Development Center. It attracts upwards of 140,000 visitors from all over the country and Canada, who come for three days to peruse 4,000 product lines from 600 commercial exhibitors, and learn the latest in agricultural research, conservation, family and nutrition, and gardening and landscape.
Tickets are $8 at the gate or $5 in advance when purchased from county offices of OSU Extension or participating agribusinesses. Children 5 and younger are admitted free. Hours are 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Sept. 22-23 and 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. Sept. 24.
For more information, log on to http://fsr.osu.edu. Farm Science Review is also on Twitter (http://www.twitter.com/OhioStateFSR), Facebook (http://www.facebook.com/FarmScienceReview), and Ning (http://fsrosu.ning.com).