In the middle of February the lakes are quiet in northeast Illinois; coated with ice and snow. I just got off the phone with a client in central Illinois and he is not so lucky. Half of his lake is open water and the geese have congregated on his lake, creating lots of noise and droppings. Soon the ice on all the lakes will start to melt and the geese will return. Some are migratory, waiting for open water further north, and some are resident geese that nest.
“How do you get rid of them?” I am asked many times each year as a lakes consultant and a Waterfowl Nuisance Wildlife Control specialist.
Goose control is not an easy issue. The resident geese, in particular, are very persistent. It is hard to believe that they were almost extinct in the 1950’s from over-hunting Now, having protection status as a migratory species, they can only be hunted during the fall migration. But many geese don’t migrate, or they travel only as far as the next open water area.
Goose control methods:
Start early. Multiple methods will likely be needed in order to be effective. Geese start arriving as soon as there is open water – so have your goose control methods in place before ice-out.
- If your lake has islands and numerous goose nests, ask a specialist about depredating the eggs. Destroying the eggs without a permit is illegal, although the raccoons and coyotes can do this without concern
- Oiling of the eggs is very effective and reduces the goose control population slowly as the older geese die off and are not replaced. This is a long term solution.
- Install native plants along the shoreline. Critters that may predate on the geese hide in the native plants. Geese prefer mowed lawns so that they can see their predators.
- I have performed goose control for 18 years I have noticed that native shorelines are the single best form of goose control. Lakes and ponds with native shorelines have geese that visit, but few, if any, will nest and become residents. If the geese do nest their eggs are a treat for raccoon and coyotes, so few, if any hatch.
- Lawn sprays, such as Flight Control, applied on turf near the lake will cause the goose discomfort when they eat the chemical. It also has optical properties that geese can see from the air, and this discourages them from landing. The lawn spray needs to be applied five times per year to be effective, starting in March (in the Chicago area). The spray is applied every few months except during June when the geese are flightless due to the molting of their flight feathers.
Goose control is not an easy task and you need to be persistent. It will pay off with fewer geese and less droppings, but you need to start early. It may take several years for the longer term solutions such as egg oiling and native shorelines to work, but ultimately they are the most effective.
Make your plans early and call Integrated Lakes Management to assist you with your goose control needs at 847-244-6662 or visit us atwww.lakesmanagement.com.
Sandy Kubillus, Certified Lake Manager at Integrated Lakes Management