Resident Canada Goose Management Frequently Asked Questions

PDF version of these FAQs

What is the resident Canada goose management program?
A program that has been developed to give private landowners (including businesses and other commercial entities) options to address their goose-human conflicts on their sites.

What are goose-human conflicts?
Goose-human conflict is when humans have complaints about geese. Most complaints are from residents and businesses frustrated with goose droppings, usually on specific sites, such as, lawns, beaches, docks, sidewalks, and golf courses. Occasionally geese nest in inappropriate sites, such as in shrubbery near buildings or parking lots where they become aggressive toward people who enter the territory around the nest. Canada geese may also cause damage to agricultural crops through consumption or trampling.

What are some things landowners can do to deter geese from their property?
First, do not artificially feed geese or other waterfowl. Feeding concentrates geese, causes the loss of wild instincts, aggression, and can lead to nutritional imbalance. If permitted by law in your area, hunting geese is a very effective and economical tool to control goose populations. Scare devices can be a cost-effective way to repel geese when applied consistently as soon as geese arrive on your property prior to nesting. There are many commercial companies that sell scare devices such as shell crackers, screamers, bird alarms, motion detector accessories, electronic noise systems, bird bangers, rockets, and distress cries. There are also visual stimuli techniques used to scare geese such as bird scare balloons, plastic flags, and Mylar scare tape. Physical barriers such as fences can be used to exclude flightless geese from lawns during their molt. Barrier fencing works most effectively when placed along shorelines, but it has to be used at times when young birds would not be trapped on land. Fencing may be as simple as two strands of twine at the waters edge.

Many golf courses and airports have reported success using dogs trained to chase geese off the property. Increasingly, lakefront property owners are also reporting that their dogs are effective at deterring geese. Dog service companies are available for hire. Commercially-available repellents can be applied on lawns to deter geese from feeding on the grass. The disadvantage to using repellents is that they are effective only over a short period. Rain or mowing reduces their effectiveness.

Using a combination of several different control methods and changing tactics often to prevent geese from becoming conditioned to any one of them, often has the best results. In addition, studies show that geese exposed to hunting are more likely to respond to scare devices outside the goose hunting seasons.

As a last resort, you can also contact the DNR to inquire about Canada goose nest destruction roundup.

Can I hunt Canada geese?
Yes, goose hunting seasons stretch from September 1 into early February in various locations across Michigan. Some of these seasons are set to specifically target resident geese. The annual Michigan Waterfowl Hunting Guide contains season dates and bag limits; but you should also check local township firearm ordinances for local hunting closures.

Why are Canada geese so often found on golf courses and lakefront properties?
Urban and suburban developments with manicured lawns, abundant water bodies, and refuge offer all the resources that geese need to thrive. Geese are attracted to lawns mowed short, but are not as attracted to taller grasses or other vegetation; therefore, simple landscape alterations can be used to deter geese from your property by making your yard less attractive to geese. For example, an un-mowed 6-foot wide shoreline buffer of tall native grasses or a hedgerow 20 to 30 inches tall can discourage geese from visiting your lawn.

What is the nest and egg destruction program?
This program addresses local resident goose populations on lakes (sites/businesses) that are located in specific geographic areas (Macomb, Oakland, and Wayne counties, Ann Arbor, Alpena, and Sault Ste. Marie) and other designated sites that meet program criteria. Landowners must first use alternative methods to address Canada goose conflicts on their site before being eligible to participate in nest destruction. The nest destruction program allows the landowner to request a permit (no fee) to destroy nests and eggs, which then will encourage the geese to migrate north. Applicants for this program must meet eligibility requirements and attend training. Applicants may also hire a contractor to perform this service. Applicants eligible for this program must first participate in the nest destruction program prior to receiving a permit for goose roundup. The nest destruction program was started in 1998.

How can landowners get involved in the nest destruction program?
Landowners who participated in this program last year and new sites that have received a letter announcing their eligibility will receive additional information on the nest destruction program in the mail. Landowners must first use alternative methods to address Canada goose conflicts on their site before being eligible to participate in nest destruction. Another requirement for this program is a signed petition from 70 percent of the lakefront property owners or a government resolution. A resolution must be approved by the local government official (township, city etc), which represents the property owners on the subject lake, body of water or site, approving nest destruction for their site. A copy of petition or resolution must be sent with application. Applicants must be in an eligible location to participate in this program.

What is the Canada goose round up program?
If landowners are still experiencing conflicts with Canada geese after they have tried a variety of control methods (including nest destruction in eligible areas), they may request a permit to have geese on their lake or site rounded up and transported to designated release sites. Most participants in this program hire a licensed nuisance animal control company to remove the birds. The first goose roundup in Michigan was in the early 70's. The number or requested roundup permits have continued to increase ever since.

Is Canada goose round up effective?
Round up is not an effective long-term solution for addressing Canada goose conflicts and has had limited success in reducing the number of goose complaints. Round up provides only short-term resolution of human-goose conflicts because adult geese instinctively return to previous breeding sites. It does provide property owners temporary relief, but the same or different birds move back into the area within a short time. Unless the attractive habitat is modified, or birds are removed from the population (via hunting), geese will return. Relocating geese is not a long-term solution, because as human and goose populations grow, there are fewer places to put rounded up geese where the natural habitat can support them and they will not cause additional conflicts. Many sites report that geese are back within several weeks of round up. Because round up of Canada geese is very costly and it is difficult to find suitable locations for relocation, the DNR requires that sites try other alternative control methods before being eligible for the round up program.

The DNR encourages landowners to increase their tolerance of Canada geese to reduce human-goose conflicts in situations where there are no human safety or health threats. DNR requires applicants to attempt alternate control techniques to address human-goose conflicts before they are permitted to destroy nests/eggs or round up birds. DNR encourages homeowners to learn more about non-lethal techniques including habitat modification and scare tactics to reduce conflicts. You can find out more information on alternative methods to address goose conflicts on our Web site, www.michigan.gov/dnr, under Wildlife and Habitat, Wildlife Species, Problem Wildlife.

What will happen to the geese that are "rounded-up" but are not relocated?
Some geese rounded-up during June may be killed and prepared by a licensed meat processor for distribution to charitable organizations for use in soup kitchens.

How can I participate in this program on my site if I haven't in the past?
If you are experiencing conflicts with Canada geese on your property, you are encouraged to address them using methods such as scare tactics, repellants, fencing, landscape alterations, and trained dogs. If you have questions about these methods or they are not successful, contact your local Wildlife Biologist. Click here for a list of Wildlife offices.

What costs are associated with Canada goose round-up?
Most sites will be charged a non-refundable $200 DNR permit fee per site ($100 for single family residences). In addition, applicants must bear any costs charged by private contractor services to roundup, capture, and relocate the birds.

What if I am not the only landowner on my lake and want to round up geese?
If you are not the sole owner of the body of water, you must submit a petition with signatures of at least 70 percent of the lakefront/riparian property owners. A resolution approved by a local government official that represents the property owners may also be used.

Can I hire a contractor to help with the situation?
Absolutely. A list of private nuisance animal control firms that are specifically permitted and trained to handle resident Canada geese is located on the DNR Web site at www.michigan.gov/dnr. Click on the Wildlife & Habitat tab then Wildlife Permits.

Why is there a fee for Canada goose round up activities?
The DNR permit fee structure was recently approved by the Natural Resources Commission (NRC) to partially cover DNR's cost to administer the resident Canada goose program. In the past all the funding for this program has come from hunter dollars. We estimate that the new fees will cover approximately 50 percent of the program cost. Our records also show that approximately 54 percent of the sites that apply for round up activities actually conduct that activity. DNR spends a significant amount of time processing, issuing, and tracking these unnecessary permits. We also want to encourage landowners to address their Canada goose conflicts by using alternative measures.

Are there any special criteria for multiple sites under one Nest/Egg Destruction and/or Round Up permit?
For applicants that have multiple sites, sites must be located within one mile of each other in order to be included on the same application and permit. Information we have on Canada goose brood movements indicate that about 80 percent of broods will move one mile or less between nesting sites and brood-rearing areas.

In general, multiple lakes cannot apply for nest destruction or round up permits under one application. Lakes that are identified and named as separate and individual water bodies (e.g., on plat maps, USGS topo maps, etc.) must apply as one site in an application, regardless if they are connected by channels. Likewise, lakes that have separate lake associations must apply as one site in an application.

Applicants that do not comply with the above criteria will risk ineligibility of program participation the following year.