The GeesePeace program was developed to “humanely achieve a permanent end to conflicts with Canada Geese in America.” Visit the website www.geesepeace.com for more information.
The MSPCA worked closely with the GeesePeace founders to bring the successful program into Massachusetts.
The program is based on three main components.
ONE: POPULATION STABILIZATION
The first part of the program works to ensure the population of geese on a site does not grow by curtailing reproduction through egg addling. Egg addling ensures that no new goslings are born by coating eggs in the first two weeks of development with corn oil. Addling is an important part of the program for two reasons. First, it keeps the geese population from growing and second, it decreases the loyalty adult geese have to a certain site. Adult geese with no new goslings are easily moved off of a conflict site. Recent studies indicate that after an unsuccessful breeding season, geese may depart on their own accord to embark on a molt migration. An egg addling program is easy to operate and virtually cost free; only a handful of volunteers or staff members are needed to start an egg addling program. The US Fish and Wildlife Service lifted the cumbersome permitting process and towns can register land where they wish to addle online.
TWO: SITE AVERSION
The second part of the program, which can only be successful if egg addling has occurred in the spring, turns areas which were once geese havens into unfriendly territory. The site aversion component of the GeesePeace program is best accomplished through the use of a Border Collie. Geese view border collies as predators and Border Collies are easily able to flush geese off land and water. It is essential that Border Collies chase geese in water, as geese consider water bodies their safety zones. Once that safety zone is taken away, they skip out of town pretty quickly in search of a more accommodating environment. Training is critical for both the handler and the dog. Using a Border Collie service can be expensive, but towns can get creative. For example, Sharon, Massachusetts bought a Border Collie from a reputable service and the service trained the seasonal staff on how to handle the dog. Roy became the town’s mascot and one of the main attractions in the town’s annual parade. Some towns have been successful in recruiting dedicated volunteers who work with a dog for the community at no charge. Partnerships can also be made among town parks, school districts, local businesses and private and municipal golf courses who can share the expense and maintenance of a Border Collie service.
THREE: ELIMINATE FEEDING
Geese will move elsewhere once supplemented food handouts are removed and they are forced to depend on the area’s natural food supply. Education, through informative signage and public outreach efforts to explain the potential harm feeding can cause geese, is most successful. Also providing a kiosk where visitors can learn more about geese behavior and biology and why feeding is not recommended has proven to work. The use of peer pressure can serve as another important tool to discourage people from feeding geese—enlisting volunteers from the community to pamphlet visitors to the park and speaking at local schools and town meetings are great ways to spread the word. A presentation within the school to teach children not to feed geese is another option. Children can then teach their parents and grandparents why wildlife is best kept wild. Ordinances to regulate feeding may also help raise public awareness, but past experience has shown that people have a more positive response to educational efforts rather than unexplained feeding bans.