Canada geese can be found throughout Ontario. Some stay in southern Ontario during the winter but the great majority travel south to the United States, or even to northeastern Mexico.
The Canada goose finds a mate during its second year and once paired, the couple remains together for life. Usually five to seven eggs are laid, with older birds producing more eggs than birds nesting for the first time. The female incubates the eggs for 25 to 28 days while the male stands guard nearby.
Unlike many waterfowl species that feed mainly in the water, Canada geese feed mostly on land. In spring and summer, they graze on the leaves of grassy plants, and also eat a wide variety of flowers, stems, roots, seeds and berries.
Red foxes, coyotes, wolves and bald eagles may prey on adult geese.
Canada geese sometimes flock to parks, shorelines and golf courses. They may damage gardens by eating plants and make a mess of lawns.
Very rarely, geese act aggressively towards people or pets.
Please keep in mind…
Wild animals have the same basic needs as humans – food, water and shelter. Sometimes, humans and wild creatures come into conflict when animals are trying to meet their basic needs. Often, conflicts can be prevented if we're willing to make small changes to how we think and act.
People and wild animals live side by side in Ontario. We all share responsibility for preventing and handling human-wildlife conflicts. If you must take action against wildlife, please consider all your options and follow all relevant laws and regulations.
Conflicts with Canada Geese
How Can I Prevent Conflicts?
Limit food sources
- Never feed Canada geese.
- Clean up spilt seeds under bird feeders.
- Mow your lawn less frequently as geese prefer tender grass.
- Check with your local lawn seed supplier for coarse grass species suitable for your climatic conditions.
Make your property unwelcoming
- Portable propane-fired exploders, sirens or air horns will scare geese off your property but equipment must be moved regularly because geese become accustomed to it.
- Bright flashing strobes can disturb geese after dark or just before dawn.
- Sound-recorded distress calls of Canada Geese or other bird species may persuade flocks of geese to move from your property.
- Sound recordings of eagles or falcons as well as eagle and falcon models or kites may also scare geese away.
- Lengths of shiny or bright materials, flags or balloons strung between stakes or attached to trees and allowed to move in the wind create a visual distraction that geese may avoid.
A swan family decoy, set in small ponds or lakes, has been effective in some cases.
- Geese may be disturbed by water sprays designed to activate when movement is detected by infrared sensors.
How Can I Handle a Conflict?
If geese are nesting around your property
- Dense tall grass, shrubs, aquatic plants, trees and bushes can prevent geese from directly accessing shorelines, grazing areas or safe cover.
- Fences can be made from woven wire, poultry netting, plastic netting, plastic snow fencing, monofilament wire or electrified wire.
- Grids or multiple parallel lines of wire, cable, twine or rope, stretched 30 to 50 centimetres above the surface of ponds or over new plantings, will prevent geese from getting into the area.
- Some scare tactics and all lethal measures require a federal permit before you take action. Scare tactics that require a federal permit include the use of firearms, raptors or aircraft and dogs. Speak with the Canadian Wildlife Service about permits.
Lethal action is a last resort
- If non-lethal control of Canada geese is not successful, lethal action may be an option. Such action includes legal hunting, shooting out of season or egg destruction by federal permit.
- Hunting is an effective way to manage goose populations and prevent conflicts. Regulations, seasons and municipal bylaws must be followed. You may hunt geese in the open season with a valid hunting licence for migratory birds. You can also encourage hunting on your property.
For more information and assistance…
For information on Canada geese…
• Check out Hinterland Who's Who
For information on how to prevent conflicts with Canada geese
• Canadian Wildlife Service (PDF, 324 kb)
• Ontario Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (PDF, 340 KB)
• Toronto Wildlife Centre
Return to Living with Wildlife - Species Fact Sheets list.