MSPCA-Angell Headquarters

350 South Huntington Avenue, Boston, MA 02130
(617) 522-7400
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Angell Animal Medical Centers – Boston

350 South Huntington Avenue, Boston, MA 02130
(617) 522-7282
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Angell West

293 Second Avenue, Waltham, MA 02451
(781) 902-8400
For on-site assistance (check-ins and pick-ups):
(339) 970-0790
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Angell at Nashoba – Low-Cost Wellness Care

100 Littleton Road, Westford, MA 01886
(978) 577-5992
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Animal Care and Adoption Centers – Boston

350 South Huntington Avenue, Boston, MA 02130
(617) 522-5055
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Animal Care and Adoption Centers – Cape Cod

1577 Falmouth Road, Centerville, MA 02632
(508) 775-0940
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Animal Care and Adoption Centers – Nevins Farm

400 Broadway, Methuen, MA 01844
(978) 687-7453
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About Geese and Waterfowl

The term “waterfowl” refers to migratory birds who live in freshwater habitats, such as geese, swans, and ducks. All waterfowl share the characteristics of webbed feet and flattened bills. In Massachusetts, the Canada goose is the species of waterfowl that most often comes into conflicts with humans. Canada geese are distinguishable by their large size, white cheek patch, and black bill, head, and neck. They weigh about twelve pounds and have an average wing length of twenty inches. Canada geese form permanent pair bonds and both parents vigorously defend nests and goslings. They can often be seen and heard flying overhead in a “V” formation, which allows each bird to fly in the wind draft of the bird in front of it, saving energy and taking turns as the leader to break the wind.

There are two different populations of Canada geese in Massachusetts: the migratory population and the resident population, who are descendants of captive geese used for hunting. Due to the fact that the resident goose population never learned how to migrate and the abundance of attractive human-made habitats like golf courses, artificial ponds and lakes, and municipal parks, this resident population lives in Massachusetts year round.


Waterfowl conflicts with humans usually involve landscaped areas and maintained lawns. When grazing, geese do not permanently disturb or physically damage turf. Rather, conflict usually occurs because of fecal deposits and the aggregation of large numbers of birds.

The most effective approach to reducing geese conflicts involves using a number of different techniques, and being responsive and flexible while observing the program’s performance. Some of the many options available are vegetation management (the use of tall grass or other naturally occurring vegetation to deter geese and ducks), fencing, harassment techniques (including the use of trained border collies), hazing, repellents, and oiling eggs. Killing geese, in contrast, is inhumane, ineffective and unnecessary as it merely opens up habitat for new geese to move into.

Learn more about resolving conflicts with geese.


Waterfowl are not a health threat to humans. The botulism strain that affects waterfowl is not transmittable to humans. Additionally, hough there has been concern in the past about the impact of goose droppings on water quality in municipal lakes and ponds, it’s more likely that poor water circulation and other sources of contamination account for water quality issues. Additionally, researchers have not found any significant health threats from goose feces. Geese are not inherently dangerous to people, but they will vigorously defend their nest and goslings, and feeding geese can actually make them more aggressive as their natural fear of people decreases. Learn more about the problems with feeding geese.


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