A little background on geese: Geese are a federally protected species and are protected under the Migratory Bird Treaty Act as most birds are. The U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service (USFWS) is the federal agency that oversees migratory birds. The Ohio Division of Wildlife (ODOW) is the state agency that regulates hunting and manages nuisance goose complaints in Ohio. Outside of the hunting season, March 11-August 31, ODOW can issue nuisance goose permits to landowners who are experiencing goose issues. However, before we issue these permits we must see that landowners are doing some sort of harassment to help alleviate their issues.
Activity of geese: Throughout the months of January through March geese start pairing up and returning to their nesting territories. Of course this is all weather dependent. If we have a mild winter like we had earlier this year, geese will pair up and return to their nesting spots earlier than normal. If we have a rough winter, they usually won’t show up in pairs until later or whenever the water is open. If an aerator is installed on the pond, I recommend turning it off during the winter months to allow freeze up. I know you said the one on the pond behind the club house gets turned off during the winter. When you start noticing pairs of geese (2 geese hanging out together, wandering away from other geese, usually in that Jan.-March time) this is when chasing geese off is important. You really want to focus on those pairs of geese that are looking for a spot to nest. If they nested there this spring, they will nest there again next spring. You also want to prevent new pairs from nesting there.
Different harassment tools that can be effective (you don’t have to use these methods. They are simply my suggestions):
- Green laser pointers are a good tool to use early in the morning and late in the evening. You can even use them during the day when it’s overcast out. Here is an example of a green laser pointer to check out: http://www.laserglow.com/GGA . This is the one is $69 which is not that bad compared to the price of others ($1000 +). Having a laser pointer that projects a good distance to scare geese off is important. The key to using them is to shine it around their feet/bodies when they are feeding in the grass. You can use it when they are swimming on the water as well, but it’s harder to see. For some reason geese don’t like it and they usually will fly off. This works best before nesting season and after the molt in June. You may have to use another tactic with the laser pointer. The more the better!
- Bird bangers and whistlers are another good tool to use also. They are noise makers, so be cautious in using them as they might disturb neighbors. Several HOA’s utilize this and it can be used in urban areas, but I would check with the local police department first to let them know you are using bangers for goose management. Here is a website that does a good job of explaining bird bangers/whistlers and ATF requirements: http://www.reedjoseph.com/pyrotechnics.htm . Reed-Joseph International’s phone number is 1-800-647-5554. What you will need to purchase is a single shot launcher ($34) and a box of bird bangers ($50/100 rounds) and/or screamer sirens ($45/100 rounds). If you decide to purchase one of course. With bird bangers, you shoot these over top of the geese and it reinforces that they are being shot at. Reed-Joseph makes bird bangers that DO NOT require an ATF permit. The whistlers do not require a permit as well.
- Running at geese on foot is one of the best tactics to use. Instead of chasing geese into the water, chase them away from the water. The goal is to get them up and flying off of the property. If they do fly off, stick around for about 5-10 minutes just to make sure they don’t return. If they do not fly off, then likely you are not being aggressive enough or you may have to try another tactic. Again, January through March is the key time to harass geese off of your property before they nest. The same can go for using dogs too.
- Noise: Using an empty milk jug or Clorox bottle partially filled with rocks, and tied to a rope can be helpful as a deterrent. You can toss the jug into the air which will cause the rocks to make a noise and should scare the geese.
The key with harassment is to not use the same tactic all of the time, and don’t harass the geese at the same time every day. Try to change it up. If you do the same thing every day at the same time, the geese become used to it. Use multiple tactics and be persistent.
Nuisance Goose Permits that can be issued from the Ohio Division of Wildlife: Outside of the hunting season, there are 3 nuisance goose permits we can issue throughout the March 11-August 31 timeframe: Egg Destruction, Roundup (physical removal of geese, all geese euthanized), and Shooting. We are pretty strict with issuing the roundup permit and shooting permits. These permits should be used as a last resort. There is no cost for the permits through us. Our permits are issued online. You must file a complaint first, which you did for this year. However, you will need to file another complaint at the beginning of 2020 or once the pairs of geese show up.
- Egg destruction: After the pairs of geese show up and get their nesting territories picked out (they nest in the same location every year), they will begin to lay eggs. Usually this happens around the end of March, beginning of April. We can issue egg destruction permits to allow you to work on the eggs to keep them from hatching as a population control measure. The geese have to be nesting on your property in order for us to issue the permit to you. If they are on your neighbor’s property, you will need to get permission from them to work on the nest.
- Nuisance goose roundups consist of a lot of work, cost a lot of money, and require the geese to be on site (your property) the day of the roundup. Goose roundup permits are used as a last resort measure after all non-lethal harassment techniques have failed. The point of the roundup is to give the landowner a clean slate to start from. After all geese are removed, you must keep all new geese that show up off of the property. I’ve seen too many times where landowners fail to follow through on harassment after they pay to have a roundup done. Sometimes they end up back at square one. I cannot emphasize enough how important it is to continue to harass geese. The Ohio Division of Wildlife does not conduct the roundup. The landowner has to be trained to do the roundup, have the proper equipment, and be willing to kill the geese and dispose of them. The other option is you can hire a wild animal control operator. The operator will charge a fee to remove the geese. This fee usually consists of a setup fee and they charge per goose for removal. Most landowners hire a wild animal control operator to do the roundup because they do not want to do it themselves.
- Shooting permits are another option, but not in cities where the ordinance prohibit discharging of weapons. Most of the time, we are issuing this permit to farmers with crop damage.
Wildlife Research Technician
ODNR Division of Wildlife
912 Portage Lakes Drive
Akron, OH 44319