Keeping Our Wildlife WildThere is an abundance of suitable alternative habitat but geese, like many other creatures, are attracted to areas with free food!
If you care about the waterfront environment and/or the health and well-being of the geese, ducks, swans and other waterfowl then please take the time to read the information below which has been obtained from the Humane Society, Environment Canada, Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources, and the Canadian Wildlife Services.
Canada Geese are beautiful birds that originally bred in remote northern locations, migrating south to rest and feed during spring and fall. After populations were introduced into southern Ontario a few decades ago, the Canada Geese became resident and often remain year round. The Canadian Wildlife Service estimates that there are more than 400,000 temperate-breeding Canada Geese in Ontario today, far more than would have occurred without human interference.
Canada Geese are grazers and prefer grass. They return to the same sites to nest year after year. Both parents defend the nest and the goslings. As their life span is often 10-20 years and they breed every year, small waterfront parks quickly become overcrowded and this causes problems for the geese, the other birds, the environment and also for humans. Geese pollute the water and soil the landscape, restricting recreational use and park enjoyment.
Did you know that geese poop on average every seven minutes while feeding? Every seven minutes amounts to a pound or more of poop per goose per day, resulting in a rather unattractive landscape for both humans and birds – especially grazers!
Aside from the pollution, feeding the geese adds enormously to the population problem and is very dangerous for them. Higher populations are much more susceptible to disease and poor quality food stresses the immune system’s ability to resist infection. Geese naturally feast on wild grasses, aquatic plants and small invertebrates. Feeding bread and other “human” food and even poultry food can make the entire flock sick and cause nutritional deficiencies that can soften bone, causing deformities of the wing which prevents them flying – a very severe handicap for a wild bird. Unnatural feeding causes geese to congregate and geese will stay more persistently where people offer handouts. Birds will delay migration or not migrate at all which can result in birds starving or caught in ice in more severe winters or cold snaps. Unconsumed human food will of course attract other scavengers such as rats, pigeons, gulls, crows, raccoons etc.
Feeding also habituates geese, reducing an otherwise healthy fear of humans and other potential predators. Habituated geese are vulnerable to attack by other predators, malicious humans, entanglement in litter and vehicle collisions.
Watching birds in their natural environment is a wonderful alternative to feeding them in public parks. Bird-watching allows participants to observe how waterfowl really interact with their environment and is rarely associated with the risks to animals, environment and public.
Although feeding waterfowl may seem beneficial and gratifying, it has negative consequences for the birds, the environment and public health and should be discouraged.
PLEASE HELP KEEP OUR WILDLIFE HEALTHY AND WILD.
Audubon International Fact Sheet
Canada Geese and Shorelines
Cool facts about Canada Geese