We receive a great number of complaints regarding the Geese that have come to call Cary their home. In many locations, there are hundreds of them, often overwhelming and becoming a nuisance in certain parks and ponds, leaving their droppings, and in some cases, becoming aggressive when they are protecting their nests.
Their unique status
First off, the geese in our area are “Canada Geese.” (Not “Canadian Geese” as we often hear.) Canada Geese are classified as migratory birds and are a protected species that are regulated through a complicated process involving the US Department of Agriculture, the US Fish and Wildlife Service and the North Carolina Wildlife Commission.
That is to say that Canada Geese are basically protected under the Federal Migratory Bird Act of 1918 . This Act makes it illegal to harm or injure a goose and damage or move its eggs and nest, without a Federal permit. Not complying with the Federal Act can result in fines ranging from $5,000 to $10,000 and this also applies to an untrained dog’s actions.
What can be done to address this problem?
The Town has been dealing with geese at the Koka Booth Amphitheater and the WakeMed Soccer Park with varying levels of success. We actually have an agreement with the US Department of Agriculture to help manage our goose population at those facilities.
As explained to me by our town staff, that under these regulations, management of the geese population requires a “depredation permit” which means there must be property damage before such a permit can be issued.
Another consideration the Town must take into account is the fact that Cary is designated a bird sanctuary in our own ordinances which provide protection for wild birds. This does not mean that we would not take measures, where appropriate, to address any damage created by such birds but only that we must carefully weigh the pros and cons of such issues.
Until the federal government takes action and removes the protections that are established for these birds, the Town (and private property owners) is very limited on what we can do.
What can you do?
Don’t feed the Geese. Feeding the geese just makes them want to stay, and they tend to congregate when food is easy to find.
Stay away from the nests – Geese tenaciously defend their nests and goslings. Pay attention to where you are, and if you are close to a nest – you don’t want to provoke a defensive response by the female or male.
Harassment – scaring the geese can be used effectively, but there are some programs in place to ensure you do it safely, and humanely.
As always, thanks for listening and please feel free to contact me with any questions, comments or concerns.
Featured photo by e_monk