Canada geese are a valuable natural resource and a source of recreation and enjoyment to bird watchers, hunters and others. Flocks in flight this time of year are a welcome sign of the change in seasons. However, local-nesting or “resident” geese have become year-round inhabitants of parks, ball fields, waterways, farms, residential areas and golf courses, where they can cause problems.
Information is available on the DEC website (www.dec.ny.gov/animals/7003.html) to help property owners prevent or reduce problems with Canada geese. Several options are available to alleviate damage and nuisance caused by resident Canada geese during the spring and summer months. DEC issued a General Depredation Permit (GDP) that allows the disturbance or removal of adult or juvenile Canada geese or their nests or eggs under certain situations and conditions without having to apply for individual state and federal permits.
Geese should be chased away from an area as soon as they arrive in the spring and persistently chased until they permanently leave the area. Once geese start nesting in mid-March to mid-May, they will be less likely to leave the area. Assuring no birds are physically harmed, anyone may scare or chase geese without a special permit. If doing so within three miles of an airport, it is required that the airport manager be contacted at least 72 hours in advance so they can be on the lookout for any flocks that may be dispersed in the direction of the airport.
To prevent successful goose nesting, “egg-addling” may be conducted in any area of New York State. Egg-addling involves the technique of treating goose eggs to prevent hatching, either by puncturing the eggs or coating them with 100 percent corn oil. This technique prevents the development of the embryo inside the egg without causing geese to immediately abandon the nest or start a new nest until it is too late in the summer for them to do so. Egg-addling will not reduce the overall goose population but it can provide relief for property owners where geese may want to raise their young.
Anyone living in a community where geese have become over-abundant is encouraged to participate in this activity to help slow the growth of local goose populations and reduce the need for more drastic action to alleviate conflicts. After registering on-line at https://epermits.fws.gov/eRCGR/ , one may oil or puncture any number of nests or eggs of Canada geese from property they own, manage or have property owner permission to perform egg-addling activities on. Visit DEC’s Nuisance Canada Geese page for more information about this control option and the technique of addling eggs: http://www.dec.ny.gov/animals/7003.html.
In many cases, landowners will have problems with Canada geese that are not nesting on their property. In those situations, DEC encourages local landowners, local officials and others in a community to cooperate on a community-wide plan to address the problem of overabundant Canada geese. One key is determining where the problem birds are coming from and reaching out to property owners where geese nest to get their permission to locate and addle eggs. Encouraging opportunity and access for goose hunters in the fall is another key.
In addition to the options above, farmers, airport managers and managers of drinking water supplies or swimming areas are encouraged to take advantage of special federal regulations that allow them to take juvenile Canada geese before the open hunting seasons. These are special provisions established in 2007 by the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service (USFWS) to help alleviate the growing problems with Canada geese across the country. No federal permit is required, but authorization from DEC must be obtained in advance and specific timeframes and special conditions apply. Any geese captured must be killed, not released elsewhere. DEC does not allow relocation because resident Canada geese are overabundant throughout the state, and relocation would simply redistribute or add to problems caused by geese.
Special permits from DEC and USFWS are required to take Canada geese to help with problems not covered by one of these categories, such as general nuisance problems on private property. For more information about applying for an individual federal permit, review the federal regulations at: www.fws.gov/permits/ or call USDA Wildlife Services (518) 477-4837. USDA Wildlife Services provides information and management programs, including capture and removal, to people experiencing problems with Canada geese or other migratory birds. They can assist with the federal permit application process. If you are authorized to take geese by an individual federal permit, DEC’s general depredation permit automatically provides the state authorization you need to proceed.
New York’s “resident” Canada goose population is estimated at more than 200,000 birds statewide, despite the annual harvest of more than 50,000 geese during open hunting seasons. Access for hunters remains the most important method for managing the size of the resident goose population. In addition, special provisions and permits for resident geese offer further opportunity to individual property owners, farmers, local governments, homeowner’s associations and others.