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Prevention is best solution to handle goose conflict

Two Canada Geese walk by the old youth center during the Annual Spring Bird Count, May 4, 2013, at Langley Air Force Base, Va. The pair were the only two seen that day. (U.S. Air Force photo by Tech. Sgt. April Wickes/Released)

Eggs and nests of waterfowl are protected by federal law and may not be disturbed or destroyed without authorization. A permit is not required to merely scare, repel or herd nuisance migratory birds, provided no attempt is made to confine the birds or destroy their nests.(U.S. Air Force photo by Tech. Sgt. April Wickes/Released)

WRIGHT-PATTERSON AIR FORCE BASE, Ohio. -- Canada geese usually start choosing mates and selecting a territory for nesting in late February to early March. It is during this time that it is most important to harass/scare any geese that may be lingering around your facility. 

Once a nest has been constructed it becomes protected by federal law. Discouraging geese from nesting by chasing, scaring, harassing, etc. is legal and encouraged so that the geese do not have to be destroyed once they become a nuisance. 

Geese start laying eggs sometime from mid-March to mid-May. It takes the female 24 to 48 hours to lay all of the eggs. Incubation by the females begins as soon as all her eggs are laid. The eggs are incubated for about 28 days before they're hatched. 

During the incubation period geese become extremely aggressive while protecting/defending their nests. It's during this time that geese become a nuisance by defending their nests by attacking pedestrians trying to enter/exit buildings. 

Eggs and nests of waterfowl are protected by federal law and may not be disturbed or destroyed without authorization. A permit is not required to merely scare, repel or herd nuisance migratory birds provided no attempt is made to confine the birds or destroy their nests.

The Ohio Department of Natural Resources Division of Wildlife has developed control techniques to alleviate problems associated with Canada geese. These techniques include, but are not limited to: 

› Allow and encourage hunting of geese during legal season;    
› Stop all feeding (especially summer and winter) immediately. Geese that are fed will lose their fear of humans and attack adults, children and pets during the nesting season (March through June); 
› Use scare devices (dogs, orange or mylar flagging, balloons spaced 5 per acre) to drive potential nesting geese from the property. 

Prevention can be accomplished by not allowing the geese to set up their nests, (before the first egg is laid). Once the geese have nested, the first line of action is to place a cordon around the area where the nest is located. 

Secondly, post signs to warn building occupants and visitors. Last but not least, educate personnel entering and leaving the building what to do when Canada geese are encountered (i.e. not to agitate the geese, stay clear of the nesting area, walk away, use an open umbrella for protection against geese attacks, etc). 

Nest/egg destruction and relocating Canada geese will only provide temporary relief, and are not successful longterm solutions. The key to solving the problem is to make the site less attractive to prevent geese from returning the next year and to utilize scare tactics immediately when geese show up. 

If nonlethal tactics have been used in the past without success the Division of Wildlife may issue a goose egg nest removal permit. The Environmental Assets section of the Installation Management Division is responsible for requesting any removal permit(s) for the base. 

A more detailed list of tactics, with basic life history information on Canada geese, is available on the Ohio Department of Natural Resources website :
http://wildlife.ohiodnr.gov/species-and-habitats/species-guide-index/birds/canada-goose

For details contact Darryn Warner, WPAFB Natural Resources Manager, at 257-4857.