Canada Geese over-concentrations are a common problem on Haliburton shorelines these days. This article is about foiling these potential foulers!
For a variety of reasons, Canada Geese love lawns or areas where the vegetation is cut low on shorelines. They are a tundra species that feels at home in open areas with unobstructed sight lines for safety reasons. They like to take their young up onto lawn-like open areas to forage where it is easier to see any approaching predators such as foxes or coyotes. They also love to eat the high carbohydrate shorter grasses offered up by lawns or lawn-like environments created by humans bringing suburbia to cottage country. This food then turns into up to pound of feces a day fouling properties and adding E-Coli to the lake.
The key to discouraging Canada Geese from congregating on shoreline open spaces is to make sure that they see a wall of plant material at least 24" high when they look at a shoreline from the water and not large expanses of inviting manicured lawns,
Leora Berman, from "The Land Between" organization, has just completed a shoreline Canada Geese control project at Head Lake Park in the Town of Haliburton. Large numbers of geese had caused the public beach area to be closed due to E-Coli contamination for many years.
Berman studied how the geese were using the area surrounding the park for two years before designing her control strategy. The geese used one area for nesting in the early spring, a second for feeding the young before they learn to fly and a third, the main park area, for foraging during the lead up to the annual southern migration.
Lines of "flashing tape" were used to discourage Geese from using the nesting area while rows of vegetation, planted perpendicular to the shoreline every 20 meters, were employed to giving adult geese a sight line camouflaging the lawn-like fledgling feeding zone.
The result has been a ninety percent drop in the geese population in Head Lake Park, dramatically reduced fouling of park open spaces, and a beach that's once again open for swimming.
Canada Geese are an iconic national symbol for most Canadians. Unwittingly, humans have created open spaces that extend a virtual invitation to these majestic birds to congregate in non-traditional areas creating all sorts of conflicts in the process. Many now consider the geese as pests but the problem has been caused by us, not them.
Having created the problem it is now up to us to understand the impact of what we have done and to find ways to eliminate or minimize the root causes of problem geese populations.
So help your lake and yourself by planting native plants that grow to 24” or higher on your shoreline and Foil Those Fouling Geese.
Author Terry Moore is Research Director for the C.H.A. and a Lake Steward on Halls/Hawk Lakes