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Solutions to Problem Geese

A single, quick fix solution is unlikely to reduce or solve goose problems. Using several techniques in combination is a much more effective strategy. Short-term techniques can relieve immediate problems, but long-term solutions are much more likely to succeed in controlling human/goose problems.

Here is a list of techniques that individuals, homeowners associations, town/city officials or communities should employ to help alleviate conflicts with urban geese.

  • adopt a no-feeding policy;
  • immediately begin implementing habitat modification strategies that discourage future use by geese;
  • begin implementing daily goose harassment techniques (at least once in the mid-morning and once immediately prior to sunset or any time of day when geese are seen at the site, but not on a regular routine as geese will become accustomed to the schedule) in early February or as soon as geese are observed using the site to discourage geese from acclimating to the site; and
  • destroy and remove all evidence of nest building attempts on a daily basis until egg laying begins.

Support waterfowl hunting

Hunting waterfowl should be encouraged during the legal waterfowl hunting seasons using legal methods. Hunting is the most effective and preferred method of removing surplus ducks and geese. Hunting also removes some of the adult breeding birds that are adding to the population. However, hunting urban geese is sometimes difficult because of city limits and firearm ordinances.

Do not feed waterfowl

Do Not Feed Waterfowl Sign

Feeding ducks and geese is a popular practice for many people, but it is also a major reason why geese are attracted to certain areas and remain there for long periods of time. Feeding geese only leads to human/goose conflicts. Feeding also increases the susceptibility to avian diseases, which have the potential to kill large numbers of geese and other waterfowl.

Individuals and communities should adopt and strictly enforce “No Feeding of Waterfowl” (wild or domestic) signs and ordinances. Reducing handouts by well-intentioned people should help make the area less attractive to geese, ducks and other unwanted birds and animals.

There is a free publication from the United States Fish & Wildlife Service on the harmful effects of feeding waterfowl available for download here.

Habitat modification

Urban areas are usually attractive places for geese because they prefer nicely groomed lawns adjacent to water. This preference; reduced predator rates; limited hunting in most situations; and feeding by residents result in nuisance waterfowl concerns in urban areas. The following is a list of habitat modification techniques that can be done on the existing urban landscape. It is also very important that urban planners and building contractors design future projects with these habitat modifications in mind. It is usually much easier and cheaper to do this from the start than to change an existing site. The basic principles of habitat modification include eliminating or modifying the landscape to restrict access to the areas that attract geese for food and water.

Barriers (vegetative, rock, fences, grids)

Ponda) Vegetative buffer strips

Vegetative buffer strips are another form of physical barrier used to deter geese from using shorelines directly adjacent to a water body. Geese like a gently rolling slope with short vegetation at the water’s edge. It provides a clear line of vision to avoid would-be predators and provides them easy access to the water. Creating a buffer strip of tall thick vegetation will deter geese from using this shoreline.

Native warm season grasses are stiff-stemmed grasses that remain tall and erect, even throughout the winter. This characteristic makes them an excellent choice for establishing tall buffer strips for this purpose. In order for these buffer strips to be effective, they must retain their mature height throughout the entire year. Therefore, any mowing of the buffer strips will reduce their effectiveness and may render them useless as a goose deterrent. Some mixtures of cool season grasses and legumes can also function as an effective “goose deterring” buffer strip.

An alternative to using grasses and herbaceous plants as buffer strips would be the establishment of trees or shrubs. It is not recommended to establish trees or shrubs on the dams or levees of waterways. A buffer strip used in conjunction with a suspended cable grid, described below, is particularly effective in deterring waterfowl from using a water body. Buffer strips should be at least 10’ wide to be effective. Several different seeding mixtures, shown below, are recommended for creating buffer strips.

These are simply recommendations. A District Biologist or private seed supplier can also be contacted for further recommendations. The main point is to provide a solid buffer strip that creates a physical barrier at the shoreline. Adjacent terrain, soil moisture conditions, cost, and desired longevity of strip (i.e. trees are more long term than grasses) should all be considered when establishing a buffer strip to deter nuisance waterfowl.

Using the seeding mixtures listed below will:

  • reduce the affinity of a water body to geese;
  • act to re-establish native plants where invasive plants may exist currently; and
  • provide habitat for aesthetically pleasing wildlife such as songbirds, squirrels, woodpeckers, hummingbirds, and butterflies.

Warm Season Grass with Wildflowers Seeding Mixture

  • Switchgrass-4.00 lbs./acre PLS (Pure Live Seed)
  • Redtop-1.00 lbs./acre (intended as a cover crop to allow Switchgrass establishment)
  • Wildflower Mixture-1.00 lbs./acre (recommended species include Partridge Pea, Indian Blanket, Illinois Bundleflower, Rattlesnake Master, Red Corn Poppy)

Cost: Approximately $110/acre (includes seed and chemical application, does not include labor for establishment)

This mixture can be used in areas of moist soil conditions, on levees and dams of water bodies, and in areas where vegetative height concerns exist (this mixture will reach approximately 4ft. in height)

*Most reputable landscaping companies and custom seed establishment facilities should be able to provide specifics as to planting these species.

**See associated Habitat Management Fact Sheet: Warm Season Grass Establishment.

Moisture Tolerant Warm Season Grass with Wildflowers Seeding Mixture

  • Prairie Cordgrass-5.00 lbs./acre PLS
  • Wildflower Mixture-1.00 lbs./acre (recommended species include Partridge Pea, Indian Blanket, Illinois Bundleflower, Rattlesnake Master, Red Corn Poppy)

Cost: Approximately $300/acre (includes seed and chemical application, does not include labor for establishment)

This mixture can be used in wet soil conditions and in areas of intermittent standing water (this mixture may reach heights of greater than six feet)

*This mixture can be established by drilling seed through a specially designed warm season grass drill or by purchasing “plugs” of started plants. The seeds will be far more cost effective but may take longer to establish.

**Most reputable landscaping companies and custom seed establishment facilities should be able to provide specifics as to planting these species.

**See associated Habitat Management Fact Sheet: Warm Season Grass Establishment.

Cool Season Grass/Legume Seeding Mixture

  • Virginia Wild Rye-3.00 lbs./acre PLS
  • Orchardgrass-0.75 lbs./acre PLS
  • Redtop-0.75 lbs./acre PLS
  • Birdsfoot Trefoil-1.00 lbs./acre PLS
  • Alsike Clover-0.50 lbs./acre PLS

Cost: Approximately $70/acre (includes seed and chemical, does not include labor for establishment)

This mixture can be used for large expanses of buffer strip establishment, in areas of vegetative height concern (this mixture will reach approximately 4 ft. in height), in moist soil conditions, and on levees and dams of water bodies.

*Most reputable landscaping companies and custom seed establishment facilities should be able to provide specifics as to planting these species.

** See associated Habitat Management Fact Sheets: Cool Season Grass Establishment and Legume Food Plots.

Shrub Establishment Mixture and Spacing

  • Recommended Shrubs: Serviceberry, Buttonbush, Red-Osier Dogwood, Silky Dogwood, Elderberry, Hazelnut, Ninebark, Spicebush, Smooth Sumac, Winterberry
  • Spacing: Linear rows-3’X3’ (three feet between rows and three foot within each row).

Cost: Approximately $1400/acre (includes cost of seedlings, does not include cost of chemical or labor)-4,840 shrubs/acre are required for a 3’X3’ establishment.

Shrubs should be used in moist and wet soil conditions to create tall, woody, geographical barriers. Shrubs should not be used on dams or levees or in areas where height is a concern (these shrubs will reach 15’-20’ in height).

*Most reputable landscaping companies, consultant foresters, and the Indiana State Tree Nursery should be able to provide specifics as to planting these species.

** See associated Habitat Management Fact Sheets: Tree and Shrub Corridors.

Tree Establishment Mixture and Spacing

  • Recommended Trees: Sweet Gum, River Birch, Rough-leafed Dogwood, White Pine, Bald Cypress, Eastern Red Cedar, Black Cherry, Swamp White Oak, Swamp Chestnut
  • Spacing: Linear Rows-6’X6’ (<20’ buffer strip)
  • Linear Rows-8’X6’ (>20’ buffer strip)

Cost: Approximately $350/acre for 6’X6’ spacing and $260/acre for 8’X6’ spacing (estimates include cost of seedlings, do not include cost of chemical or labor for establishment).

Trees established as buffer strips are best suited to small bodies of water to discourage waterfowl from flying into and out of the water body. The recommended tree species above are intended for use in moist soil conditions, are easily established, and grow relatively quickly. The purpose of the trees is to create tall, dense, woody, barriers. Buffer strips established to trees are not intended for dams or levees or in areas where height is a concern.

*Most reputable landscaping companies, consultant foresters, and the Indiana State Tree Nursery should be able to provide specifics for planting these species.

**See associated Habitat Management Fact Sheets: Tree and Shrub Corridors.

b) Rock Barriers

Rock barriers consisting of boulders at least two feet in diameter can be placed along the shoreline. Geese normally like to walk out of the water on bare, flat or gently sloping banks. The effectiveness of a rock barrier can be enhanced when used in combination with vegetative barriers. Rip rap and smaller rock around a pond will not deter geese.

c) Fence Barriers

Fence barriers will physically prevent geese from walking out of the water into feeding areas. They can consist of woven wire, wooden or plastic snow fencing, chicken wire, silt fencing, netting, mylar tape, or several strands of heavy fishing line or wire strung 4 inches, 8 inches, 12 inches, 18 inches and 24 inches above the ground. Make sure that the fence is long enough so the geese will not walk around the ends of it.

d) Suspended Grid Systems

Creating a suspended grid system over a water body is a quick and cost effective solution to deter nuisance waterfowl from inhabiting small water bodies. Suspended grids create a barrier that physically prevents waterfowl from accessing the water body. The attractiveness of an area to nuisance waterfowl is significantly reduced by preventing their access to the water. Creating a suspended grid over a water body is very simple. Supplies for creating this grid include brightly colored twine or rope; 10 to 28 gauge wire; or mylar tape, and stakes or poles strong enough to support the weight and tension of the twine, wire, or mylar tape over the water body.

Simply place stakes or poles in 5’ increments along one side of the water body and then repeat that process on the opposite side. Then connect the corresponding stakes or poles on each side of the water body with the twine, wire, or mylar tape of your choice. Once this is completed for the entire length of the water body, complete this same process in a perpendicular fashion along the remaining two sides of the water body (Figure 1). As the lines are stretched across the water body, they should reach a height of 12-30” off of the water’s surface. Make sure to use bright colored materials so that the geese can see the grid.

Using environmentally friendly and weather resistant materials will provide long term benefits without compromising the environmental integrity of the water body.

Original Water Body

Figure 1a

Step 1:
Stretch twine, wire, or mylar tape across the water body(5’ increments)

Figure 1b

Step 2:
Stretch twine, wire, or mylar tape in perpendicular fashion (5’ increments)

Figure 1c


e) Other Habitat/Landscape Modifications

In urban environments, goose nests are often localized near landscaping features, adjacent to doorways or windows, or along paths, and are not affected by the aforementioned solutions. In such localized instances, quick fix solutions and temporary barriers can be employed. Some of these solutions include: eliminating mulch in landscaping and replacing with lava rock; using snow fencing or chicken wire to block nuisance waterfowl from areas where they are not wanted; using electric fencing to deter waterfowl from entering open areas such as lawns; avoid creating landscaping structures that resemble “nesting structure”, such as landscaping mounds, in areas of high human/goose conflict; applying chemical repellents to lawns and grass areas which reduces the palatability of the vegetation; and employing decoys of “would-be” predators to deter waterfowl. All of these tactics may work as a quick fix and are encouraged as part of an overall nuisance waterfowl management plan. However, none of these solutions listed in this paragraph are permanent solutions, and should be employed accordingly.

No Islands or Peninsulas

Minimize goose breeding and resting areas. Islands and peninsulas are ideal nesting sites for geese. These areas are surrounded by water and offer protection and security from predators. When creating new ponds, lakes or retention basins, no islands or peninsulas should be constructed. Elimination of existing islands is expensive and difficult once the island is built and the pond or lake filled with water.

No aerators or fountains

Minimize open water during winter. Open water during winter attracts local and migrant geese. As well, geese are attracted to the spray associated with fountains and sprinkler systems.

Harassment techniques (hazing /scaring)

Canada GeeseHarassment techniques are used to frighten and discourage geese from using your property. They are non-lethal and it is legal to harass Canada geese without a federal or state permit as long as they are not injured, touched or handled by a person or a dog. Different harassment methods can entail the banging of pots and pans, clapping hands, following with a leaf blower, chasing with dogs, water spray devices such as garden hoses, pyrotechnics or anything that makes a loud noise. Make sure to scare the geese away as soon as they fly in. Once they get comfortable and feel safe in a certain area, they are much more difficult to run off.

Harassment techniques will only be as effective as the amount of effort employed. Harassment techniques must be used repetitively each time geese appear on your property to be successful.

The following techniques may be used to harass geese, where safe and legal to do so. However, some may not be legal in all areas. Check local ordinances and laws before using techniques indicated with an asterisk (*).

  • Noisemaking Devices
    • Air horns or whistles
    • Blank pistols *
    • Bangers; screamers; whistlers- specialized projectiles fired from a 15 mm launcher; cracker shells – fired from a 12 gauge shotgun; and firecrackers *
    • Propane cannons *
    • Recorded distress calls
  • Visual Devices
    • Motion sensor lights
    • Flags or eye spot balloons
    • Dead goose or predator decoys
    • Mylar tape
    • Scarecrows
    • Dogs – used to chase or run geese off
    • Remote controlled boats, cars or planes
    • Hand held lasers *
  • Water Spray Devices
    As contrary as it may sound, geese do not like being sprayed with water. Note that highly pressurized water can result in injury to geese, thus pressure washers are not appropriate for harassment purposes.
    • Garden hose or sprinkler
    • Motion activated sprayer
  • Chemical Repellents
    Chemical repellents can be applied directly to the grass at the problem area and do not harm the geese. Disadvantages of chemical repellents are high cost and having to reapply them frequently. They are most effective on small areas. Some repellents may be restricted use and must be applied by a certified applicator.
    • Methyl anthranilate (ReJeXiT, Bird Shield) – makes the grass unpalatable to geese
    • Anthraquinone (http://www.flightcontrol.com/) - rainfast and contains a UV additive that makes the grass appear speckled to the geese. Treated grass gives geese a stomachache.
  • Nest DestructionCanada Goose Egg
    Nest removal can be carried out, at any time, as long as no eggs are present. Repeatedly removing nesting materials usually will force breeding geese to relocate, build a new nest or nest later in the season. Nest construction may last for several weeks and the first egg may be laid less than 24 hours after the nest is constructed. Once the first egg is laid in a nest, no further action can be taken without first registering online with the United States Fish and Wildlife Service.

Nest and Egg Destruction

Egg Destruction Brochure

It is against federal law for anyone to destroy a Canada goose nest that contains one or more eggs without first securing permission through the United States Fish and Wildlife Service. Permission may be received by registering online. Landowners must register each employee or agent working on their behalf.

Once registered, egg treatment or nest destruction can occur. Be cautious if attempting to conduct these activities yourself as Canada geese are very aggressive during the nesting period and may attack a person coming close to their nest. A person may either shake the egg for at least 60 seconds, puncture the large end of the egg with a sharp object, or coat the egg with corn oil to prevent it from hatching. Only eggs that are over 14 days old and float in the water float test should be removed from the nest. If the eggs are removed or broken to early the goose will just lay more eggs.

The eggs can be treated by using food grade corn oil only and placed back in the nest. This will trick the goose into sitting on the eggs for an extended time, but they will not hatch. The oil blocks the pores on the eggshell and the egg becomes unviable.

Nest removal with eggs present is an effective way to reduce goose reproduction and reduce the local goose population in the long-term. If the goose can be seen on the nest, remove the nest after she has been sitting on her eggs for 14 days. If the nest is taken earlier, she is likely to re-nest and lay new eggs, so it is important to wait for 14 days after the last egg is laid. It is probably better to leave the eggs a few days longer than two weeks, rather than take them too early.

If the goose cannot be seen on her nest, the following guidelines should be used. Remove any nests that contain eggs that are warm to the touch during the following periods:

  • From Lafayette north: The week of April 9 th (about the second full week in April).
  • From Lafayette south to Bedford: The week of April 2 nd (about the first full week of April).
  • From Bedford south to the Ohio River: The week of March 26 th (the last full week of March).

View a map of these guidelines.

These times may vary depending on spring temperatures and other local conditions. Nests with cold eggs should be left alone, because the goose is still laying eggs. Return two weeks later to remove any nests that are cold on the first attempt. The entire nest and all eggs should be removed and placed in garbage bags. These can be sent to a landfill.

A method you can use to help you age the Canada geese eggs more accurately is the float test. Click here to see a diagram. Take the eggs and put them in a bucket with at least 6 inches of water. Eggs younger than 14 days will sink. These eggs should be dried off, oiled, and returned to the nest. Eggs that are older than 14 days will float. These eggs should be removed unless the eggshell is pipped, which means the gosling is pecking through and ready to hatch. Leave all the eggs in a nest when one egg is pipped. All the goslings will be hatching within a few hours.

Egg and nest destruction is a very effective way to keep local populations of Canada geese in check.

Trapping and Relocation Permit

Trapping TechniqueTrapping Options Brochure

It is illegal to remove and relocate geese without a Trap/Transport Permit. The District Wildlife Biologist issues this permit. Trapping and removal will be conducted only during the bird’s flightless period (molt), which will occur from about mid-June through early July. The only exception to this will be if a human safety or health hazard exists. Once a Trap/Transport Permit is obtained, landowners can trap and relocate geese themselves or hire trained, permitted nuisance animal control personnel to provide the service. A list of operators can be found here. information on traps, proper handling of birds, and transport equipment will be provided by a biologist. All geese must be relocated to an approved area designated by the District Wildlife Biologist.

Keep in mind that the relocation of Canada geese will only alleviate goose conflicts for a short time. Trapping and relocating is just like putting a band-aid on the problem. It is not a long-term solution. Geese have strong homing instincts and often return to the area where they learned to fly, even after being relocated hundreds of miles away.

Trap and Lethal Removal Permit

Landowners now have the option to apply for a trap and lethal removal permit. The District Wildlife Biologist issues this permit. The same time frame for trap and relocation applies here. Once the permit is obtained, landowners or public managers may contract with a certified nuisance control operator to provide the service. All goslings trapped are to be relocated to an approved area designated by the District Wildlife Biologist. Adult birds will be transported off site and euthanized according to American Veterinary Medical Association standards. If you are thinking of hiring a certified nuisance control operator to trap and euthanize geese, you might want to contact your local Farmers and Hunters Feeding the Hungry chapter to see if they would be willing to work with the nuisance control operator to have the geese processed for food bank use.

This method does remove adult breeders from the population, which will decrease the number of birds in that local area. However, be aware that other geese may move into the now available habitat. Landowners wanting to use this measure should display a willingness to use other abatement techniques including harassment, habitat modification, and egg and nest destruction to prevent nuisance geese from becoming a problem in the future and having to repeat trap and removal on a yearly basis.

Agricultural Depredation Permit

Farmers experiencing crop damage greater than $500 by Canada geese may request an agricultural depredation permit from their District Wildlife Biologist. Non-lethal techniques must be utilized during this same time. The permits allow shooting of depredating Canada geese outside of the normal hunting season from March 11 to August 15.


GeeseThere is no one technique or strategy that can be used every time or everywhere to control nuisance goose problems. Resolving a problem requires a management approach and goals from everyone including individuals, homeowners associations, communities and city/town councils. Combining the use of several techniques listed above will greatly improve the effectiveness of dealing with human/wildlife conflicts.

Remember, it is best to use preventative techniques BEFORE the nuisance problem gets started in an area. Once geese are established, it can become very difficult to deter them from a given area, particularly after nesting has begun. Think long-term management, not just short-term solution.