How to keep Canada geese off your property

canada geese

Spring is just around the corner and with it the arrival of baby animals. So cute. So fluffy. So annoying?

Not everyone enjoys watching mother nature grow up so close to their home, favorite golf course or neighborhood park. In recent years, many Ohioans have felt this way about Canada geese.

Incidentally, now is the ideal time to goose-proof. Once Canada geese have nests with eggs or goslings, it’s too late to try deterrence strategies to minimize visitation. If you don’t want to share space with Canada geese this spring, you better get to it.

Population boom

There was a time — well before I was born — when Canada geese were scarce.  In fact, little to no geese were nesting in Ohio. Things changed in 1956 when the Ohio Division of Wildlife initiated a reintroduction program, bringing 10 pairs of Canada geese to three state-owned wetlands. Aided by federal and state protection, Canada geese populations dramatically rebounded. Today, it is estimated that Ohio is home to 100,000 geese spread across all 88 counties.


Wow, what a huge conservation success! So why would people be upset about hosting a couple of Canada geese and their goslings for the spring?

Well, they can create some major conflicts for landowners.

  • Accumulation of feces. This is probably the biggest issue with housing Canada geese. Put simply, they poop everywhere.
  • Degraded water quality. If you have a large number of Canada geese hanging around a stagnant body of water, pooping wherever they please, you should probably be concerned about the quality of water in your lake or pond. Water quality is compromised when rain washes the poop into the water. You’ll probably notice an excess of algae and submerged plants, which can deplete oxygen and cause a fish kill. Furthermore, goose poop carries pathogens Giardia and Coliform bacteria, which can cause illness in humans when it is accidentally ingested.
  • Property damage. Geese are known for eating grass and, in some cases, landscaping. They can create bear spots and soil erosion. Repairing damage to grasses and ornamental plantings can get expensive.
  • Attacking humans. Geese with goslings or eggs in their nest can get very aggressive. They will nip or hit people who get too close. Small children are particularly vulnerable to attacks.
  • Automotive collisions. Most of us have had the experience of stopping and waiting for mama goose and her babies to cross the road. But Have you ever hit a goose, accidentally? At 11 to 13 pounds, a goose can cause serious damage to a vehicle when it is hit.
  • Agricultural damage. Canada geese are more damaging to agriculture than any other waterfowl species. They graze on the plants and trample the emerging seedlings of virtually all grain crops.

Tips for homeowners

  1. Timing. If you want to eliminate your goose problems, strategies are best employed before geese build a nest, which can occur from late February to April in Ohio. Once geese have nests with eggs or have goslings, no strategy will work until goslings have fledged and adult geese have replaced their flight feathers.
  2. Feeding. To me, this seems kind of obvious, but feeding geese is a bad idea unless you never want to get rid of them. Canada geese quickly adapt to handouts and become reluctant to leave areas where food is provided on a regular basis. If you live in a residential development where you’re neighbor regularly feeds the geese, your problem will only get worse. Geese that are fed will eventually lose their fear of humans and begin nesting even closer to human residences. So tell Tom to knock it off and push for the creation and enforcement of a no-feeding ordinance.
  3. Vegetation buffers. When searching for an ideal place to nest Canada geese are seeking water bodies surrounded by large expanses of mown, cool-season grasses. However, if the visual line of sight between the water and the adjacent grass area is broken, geese will be deterred because they are uncomfortable not knowing what is on the other side of the tall shoreline vegetation. You can try wetland and terrestrial plants such as cattails, sedges, rushes, and warm-season grasses. Aim for a vegetation height of at least 2 feet and a zone width of 10 feet.
  4. Barrier fencing. When tall shoreline vegetation is not an option — probably not the golf course manager’s first choice — geese can be excluded from water with a barrier. Ohio State University Extension recommends surrounding the body of water with a barrier, composed of wire or string, that has at least two lines, one about six inches above the ground and the other 18 inches high. The two-line barrier prevents geese from ducking under or stepping over to reach the water.
  5. Repellents. Two different goose repellents are registered with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. However, the use of repellents can get expensive, especially since the entire grass area needs to be treated. Methyl anthranilate (MA) and anthraquinone (AQ) are both naturally occurring chemicals that, upon degradation, leave no dangerous chemical residue. MA products make grass unpalatable to geese after application, while AQ products cause a slight stomach discomfort to the geese.
  6. Dogs. Any breed of dog can be effective at chasing geese away because they represent a natural predator that make geese uncomfortable. Additionally, geese don’t like to be herded, so continuous movement will eventually push them out of an area. Make sure to give the dog continual access to the flock, or at least 4 to 6 disruptions per day.
  7. Noise. Sudden, unexpected loud noises will scare geese enough to vacate an area. However, this strategy works best in conjunction with other strategies. You don’t want the geese to get used to a specific noise, so try to alternate noises rather than overusing one. Geese can be scared off by the regular use of equipment, ATVs, tractors, leaf blowers and air horns. Just be sure not to use the same one all the time. Distress calls have also been used with some success, but work best when they are used with a visual deterrent or predator decoy.
  8. Visual deterrents. Balloons, scarecrows, flags and Mylar tape can be used to deter geese from visiting. While one visual deterrent is ineffective, two or three different types per acre of field or water can be effective, especially when they are used with noise. To learn more about using visual deterrents to repellents geese, visit Ohio State University Extension.
  9. Predator decoys. Life-like predator decoys can be used to scare geese off. However, they work best when used with other deterrent strategies and have to be moved daily. If a decoy sits in the same place for too long, the geese will get used to it and it will become ineffective.
  10. Domestic waterfowl. Having domestic waterfowl, lets geese know that the area and body of water are safe to inhabit. Removing domestic waterfowl reduces your chances of attracting large numbers of geese.


Canada geese can be encouraged to abandon the pond, yard, golf course or park. Implement a plan between January and March and try multiple strategies in a rotation before nests are built.

If you’ve tried everything and are still facing an extreme situation, contact your county wildlife enforcement officer, who can issue special control permits.



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  1. Thanks for these tips. I wonder if there’s anything that can be done once goslings have arrived. We have been successful in keeping geese off the property before nesting season. But now they have hatched elsewhere and walked to our property from nearby water. (We back up to a swamp and creek and eventually a river.) Last year I was able to keep parents and babies away most of the summer, but here is another pair (or the same pair) with more babies. I harass them but they will not leave for the creek and/or keep returning. We use the ponds and have ducks so don’t want to fence it in or grow tall plants around it. The area they can range here is fairly large so not easy to manage. Any suggestions? I dread a whole summer of their poop and noise because if one family ends up here more will usually follow. Thank you.

  2. Just since I and my neighbor by the way have just restained our docks we have had geese crap for a week
    Hasn’t happened til now
    Are they attracted to stain?

    • Ken Crum Stop geese from entering your property from the water. Install stakes in the ground around your waterfront, then tie a yellow or white rope to each. This method works by keeping the geese from getting too close. Keep in mind, they can still enter your waterfront from other directions. My husband used to work at a campground with a small lake. They used the stuff like car lots use with the different colored flags. Seemed to work pretty good.
      Also Sammi my sister lives on a lake and her neighbor painted his dock a dark color because it attracts the sun and gets the geese feet to hot to want to stand on it. Also he said the composite instead of wood seems to deter them too.

  3. Seriously you people need to get a life. To be offended by goose poop on your lawn or deck means you must not have anythiing of importance to worry about. You big tough humans clear tbese huge flat lawns and design a welcoming pond on land that would otberwise be occuoied by them. You take it all and leave them nowhere to go. And cant even appreciate how actually beautiful and far morr loyal than humans they are.

    • If you could see how our lab was so sick from eating geese poop,you would understand our concern. She was so severely sick it cost us $1000 for an emergency call on a weekend to an emergency hospital for pets

    • Seriously you need to get rid of your ignorance on the topic..this and a thousand other things i deal with are causes of seem to be jealous of those that have had success in their lives…On the lake where I live, all despise the geese which spread disease and are is important….there is a lot of free space/weeds/grass on this lake and they have plenty of places to go…but not in my yard, where my dog can eat the help, as it looks like from your comments that you dont like humans, and adore these “loyal” pests.. You can’t tell me you would feed them to attract them to your yard if you had the situation….

    • Come visit my yard with your family.
      Goose poop every 4″” of lawn surface! Large piles too! It’s disgusting! You’re probably enjoying your life in a condo! Come help clean up my yard……..EVERY WEEK & see how you like it!

  4. Stacy. I do not have anything of importance to worry about. The fact is geese wouldn’t be anywhere near my house if not for the human built pond that abuts my lawn. Due to artificial lakes, ponds, lawns and other turf areas, Canada Geese are FAR more numerous in our part of the country (Oklahoma) than they were historically. If not for human activity, geese would be relatively rare around here. They rip up my lawn grazing and they are regular crap machines. I would love to shoot them, but unfortunately I live in town.

  5. I can’t agree with the response from “Seriously you people need to get a life.” The fact of the matter is, we have a lovely man-made pond that gives the surrounding resident properties inestimable pleasure with natural wildlife. We have great blue heron, black bellied whistling ducks, rabbits, muscovy ducks, owls, and a huge variety of birds, cardinals, blue jays, doves, red-winged blackbirds, and many more. We all watch out for and take care of the wildlife winter and summer. I particularly appreciate the muscovy ducks which are very gentle, and will eat out of your hand. I promise you that they talk to me when I go outside to put out birdfeed. Unfortunately, a pair of geese have spawned goslings, and are constantly stalking the yards around the lake. They are quite aggressive and even vicious to the other wildlife, which all get along. The miracle of species that are compatible with each other is a blessing to observe. But the geese attack any wildlife that they think will get a bite of food, and they covet it all. It’s just heartbreaking to watch these geese attack the other animals and fowl. And as others observe, they are filthy will their poop. None of the other wildlife spoil the environment as the Canada geese do. And their droppings carry disease. No, they are not welcome here, and I promise you, I have a life, and my life deeply appreciates the wildlife around my man-made lake. P.S. We are a mere yards from an Interstate, there must be something the wildlife likes over here….

    • If you could see how our lab was so sick from eating geese poop,you would understand our concern. She was so severely sick it cost us $1000 for an emergency call on a weekend to an emergency hospital for pets

  6. There are excellent humane management modalities that work to lower and limit Canada goose populations, but the trick is you need to combine at least 3 or 4. In most places where geese are a problem, it is because the town waited too long to do anything and then didn’t do the right things, didn’t do them long enough and/or didn’t do enough of them. Landscape modification and egg addling are mainstays and there are newer things like hybrid grass that geese (and deer) don’t like that can be used in combination. In addition, there is pelleted bird birth control called Ovo-Control for geese (and Ovo-Control-P for pigeons) that is successful.
    Goose poop may not be pleasant but on the other hand, it IS why your grass is so nice – it is the best fertilizer there is. Despite every effort to paint geese as disease machines, very very few people get any disease from goose poop. They are vegetarians, there is literally nothing in their poop to make you sick. While all living things have the potential to pass some bacteria, the truth is that, despite every possible attempt to paint Canada Geese as disease factories, no one has ever gotten sick from a goose and every bacteriologist and avian expert has confirmed this. They are not the cause of E.coli, which not only can form without a human or animal host, but is almost always the result of septic tank problems or sewage issues. They do not cause giardia (primarily from children who are not toilet-trained) or crytosporidiosis (exclusively found in newborn puppies and kittens, never geese) and they do not cause blue-green algae blooms. DNA water testing can determine the source of any water problem. Frankly, if geese were that dangerous to humans, they’d have killed us off thousands of years ago.
    I have not found geese to be aggressive unless they are protective of their nests, which ANY animal will be. I have NEVER found geese to be vicious and I’ve never found them to attack other wildlife and I live on a creek that has a variety of creatures.
    The real problem is not the geese; it is the USDA which has created a business out of the geese exclusively to make money from their slaughter and they do, to the tune of billions a year. Then they encourage hatred in the public and get town councils and HOAs to sign kill contracts, which do not EVER solve the problem. What it does is create long-term employment for their killing division, Wildlife Services. This is not difficult to accomplish today when more and more people have an marked inability to co-exist with nature. We can’t even co-exist with each other.
    Kindly remember, geese are not the ones doing drive-by shootings, causing road rage, rape, robbing 7-11’s, starting wars, creating pollution and they did not cause covid or global warming and climate change.

  7. STACY is, obviously, having constipation issues. Otherwise, why would she even have ANY interest in this tropic–given her expressed attitude?

    FACT: There were 500,000 Canadian Geese in the 1980s, there are 5 MLLION now. (Apparently, they’re not suffering, too much, from those of us who don’t want poop on every square-inch of our property!) They have been known to not only be a nuisance, but a menace, too. A flock of Canadian Geese brought down US Airways Flight 1549. Stacy may feel differently if she had been been on that flight!


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