Canada Geese Regulations & Community Actions

Federal Regulations

The Migratory Bird Treaty Act (MBA) of 1918 gave the Department of the Interior’s Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) oversight authority to manage and regulate the harvest of migratory birds in the United States. The MBA consists of four international treaties with Canada, Mexico, Japan, and Russia. This act made it illegal to harvest waterfowl or other migratory birds except during the hunting season or by permit. It prevented the unrestricted egg harvesting and commercial hunting for meat and feathers that was commonplace in the United States in the late 1800’s and early 1900’s. Initially, the federal government was in complete control of migratory bird management. In 1999, the federal government introduced a special Canada goose permit that was specifically for the management and control of resident Canada geese. Permits were issued to State wildlife management agencies so states and their designated agents could initiate resident Canada geese damage management within the conditions and restrictions of the permit. Control activities, including those intended to either scare geese out of or preclude them from using, a specific area, such as harassment, habitat management, or repellents, do not need a permit.

New rules went into effect in September 2006. The Indiana Division of Fish and Wildlife will still issue permits for agricultural depredation and trapping activities concerning resident Canada geese. However, landowners and managers of public lands can register online directly with the United States Fish and Wildlife Service to receive permission for egg and nest destruction activities. An annual report must be filed by October 31 of the same calendar year the nest and egg destruction was completed, by logging onto the same site and clicking on Report of Activity. If no report is filed, the landowner could be denied permission in future years.

Home Owner Associations and Communities

Canada Geese in NeighborhoodThe information provided in this section is meant to help you organize your community to begin reducing your Canada goose population. Reducing damage caused by Canada geese takes the cooperation of the entire community. It may surprise you, but the first steps do not involve geese.

Step 1: Commitment
Often relying on one technique is not sufficient to observe relief from the damage. Control of geese requires a long term community based approach. If the community makes only a minimal, short term effort, no reduction in damage will likely occur, and your time and money will be wasted.

The ultimate goal is to reduce the number of human/goose conflicts. Each landowner and community will have their own tolerance for and relationship with Canada geese. The challenge is to balance the need for nuisance relief with appropriate respect for wildlife. Because Canada geese may fly from lake to lake within an area, the plan also should include working with neighboring communities and property owners to reduce goose damage and population growth in their areas as well.

Step 2: Take Charge
Although it is important to have a committee for support, one person should be in charge. This person, whether elected or appointed, should:

  • have the desire and ability to lead other community members in measures to control geese.
  • have the authority and the support of the community to modify the surrounding habitat as needed.
  • be well educated on goose management issues.
  • be willing to communicate regularly with a qualified wildlife biologist about the latest goose abatement methods.

Step 3: Obtain Community Support
Each person in your community will have a different attitude about the Canada geese in your neighborhood. Be sure that you have the community’s support before taking action. As well, your Home Owner’s Association Board (HOAB) may be more willing to act if you have documented the community’s desire to control the geese. Click here for a petition to circulate in your neighborhood. (in Adobe Acrobat format)

Step 4: Create a Plan of Action
Now that you have the support of the community and the HOAB it is time to create a management plan. This website lists a variety of methods to control goose populations. Goose control can be grouped into three categories: Habitat Modification, Hazing/Harassment, and Hunting. Each community will have to determine the best options for their neighborhood. In some instances the HOAB can relax local bylaws to facilitate the reduction of Canada geese in problem areas. Your Urban Wildlife Biologist can help you decide on a course of action and help determine the best options for your situation.

Remember reducing Canada geese in your area is going to require an integrated and multifaceted approach. There is no one best answer.