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Right in my Own Backyard - Treaties and Laws: A Canada Goose's best friend! - by Brandt Carter
posted: Sept. 30, 2021

Right in my Own Backyard header

Treaties and Laws: A Canada Goose's best friend!
In addition to squirrels, moles, voles and chipmunks, many folks have newer backyard pests - the dreaded Canada geese. They can be the biggest nuisance of all. It's hard to believe that at the turn of the 20th century, these waterfowl were endangered. Then a successful lobby to protect the remaining geese led to the Migratory Bird Treaty Act of 1918 and the Migratory Bird Conservation Act of 1929, which prohibited hunting, possessing, purchasing and exporting of migratory birds "or any part, or egg of any such bird." These laws are still in effect today. The United States Fish and Wildlife Service monitors enforcement; violations are federal felonies and are subject to fines and imprisonment.
In the early 1960s, an active repopulation program began. Now many areas have too many geese.
Geese flock together and rarely migrate to Canada because they are so pampered in the warmer United States. Lawns, public gardens, golf courses, and retention ponds are the new goose ghettos. So what are landowners to do?
Although the best solution is to remove them, roundups to take geese away from neighborhoods usually happen when overcrowding occurs. In these instances, excess geese are relocated to public spaces. More often, individuals have to resort to alternative means of control. Sprinkling grape Kool-Aid powder on a lawn can be a deterrent because geese have a digestive aversion to methyl anthranilate, a natural compound found in grapes. This causes a burning sensation in their stomachs. In other instances, border collies are engaged to give chase, hopefully driving away the geese.
For more advice, go to for Purdue University's advice on controlling Canada geese or for the Indiana DNR's advice. In the end, this may well be another instance when we have to learn to live with nature. In spite of the annoyance geese cause, seeing the V formation of a flock in flight to new locations or hearing their croaking honks as they buzz the yard can bring a thrill.

Brandt Carter, artist, herbalist, and naturalist, owns Backyard Birds at 2374 E. 54th Street. Visit her web site Email your bird questions to
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