Canada geese are very common on farms and can cause significant damage and contamination of crops. Over the past several decades, populations of Canada geese have flourished, mainly due to human-induced changes to the landscape. After the winter season, geese concentrate their feeding on different species of grasses and sedges, whereas in the fall and winter, they feed on berries, seeds and agricultural grains. Damage to grain crops, overgrazed pastures and degraded water quality are all a result of slowly increasing Canada goose populations.
Canada Geese feed on grasses and sedges throughout spring and summer months, including leaves of skunk cabbage and eelgrass. Throughout the rest of the year, geese focus their efforts towards berries and seeds, and are often found foraging throughout agricultural fields. Geese also show a preference for blueberry crops.
Canada Geese favor habitats with short vegetation near water bodies. Parks, airports, golf course and even lawns can attract geese. These habitat types not only offer a convenient food source (grasses are easily digested by this species), but the short vegetation allows mature geese to keep a close eye on wandering chicks while also keeping watch for approaching predators.
Nests are built as large “bowls” on elevated ground (e.g. muskrat mound) built with dried grasses, lichen, and other plant materials, along with some down and body feathers. Canada Geese lay 2 to 8 eggs. Once hatched, goslings will remain in the nest for about six weeks. Within days of emerging from the nest, the young can walk, feed and dive.
Managing Nuisance Canada Geese
Generally speaking, no permit is required to scare geese off your property. If you plan to kill geese, relocate live birds, remove nests or eggs, or scare geese off the property using a firearm or an aircraft you will require a permit. Permits are free, and can be acquired from a local DNR office.
Several techniques can be used to discourage geese from the property:
- Mowing less frequently can be a cost-effective and simple way to reduce the prevalence of geese on your property. Canada geese tend to favor young grasses, which is why they are often seen in freshly cut hayfields on the agricultural landscape. Mowing less frequently will result in taller, more mature grasses that are not as appetizing to geese. If there is a wetland on the property, leaving a strip of taller grasses around the wetland may help discourage geese from frequenting the habitat.
- Scarecrows can be placed in areas frequented by geese. However, scarecrows are often most effective if used when geese first show up on the property, making this technique more of a deterrent. If geese have been on the property for a significant length of time, they may already know that there is no danger. Air horns, sirens, propane cannons, flagging tape, balloons and even kites can be used to try and scare geese off the property, but, these scaring techniques are most effective when the geese first arrive in the spring.
- A small game hunting license is required to hunt geese, and open season for geese in Nova Scotia is around mid-September (September 6th to September 20th, 2016) and then again from the beginning of October until the end of December. Follow these links for more information on the Migratory Birds Act and provincial regulation. Hunters also require a Federal Migratory Game Bird Hunting Permit as well as the Provincial Small Game Hunting Stamp to hunt geese in Nova Scotia.