Wildlife advocate urges Calgarians to 'humanely' stop Canada geese from nesting on decks

Canada geese nesting on your deck can be annoying but also dangerous for your family and the birds themselves, says the Alberta Institute of Wildlife Conservation.

Highrise towers make for dangerous homes for geese, Holly Duvall says

In May of 2014, a family of geese took up residency at Calgary's Municipal Building. The city cordoned off the area until the eggs hatched. (Scott Dippel/CBC)

As Canada geese migrate back to southern Alberta, they'll be looking for new homes.

Wildlife experts in Calgary are trying to prevent the birds from settling into nests on people's decks and patios.

Canada geese nesting near humans can be annoying but also dangerous for your family and the birds themselves, says Holly Duvall, executive director of Alberta Institute of Wildlife Conservation.

Holly Duvall is the executive director of the Alberta Institute for Wildlife Conservation. (Alberta Institute for Wildlife Conservation)

Calgary's tall condo buildings are very attractive for goose families because they have a good view of the area and potential predators, and can be near water without risking getting wet. In two- or three-storey buildings, goslings can also fall off or learn to fly from a deck without injury.

"They're very little so there's not as much of an impact when they do hit the ground. But obviously a lot of our highrises are a lot taller than that," Duvall told the Calgary Eyeopener.

"So if we can prevent them from nesting in the first place, then there won't be the issue."

Break the habit

Geese usually return to the same place each year to lay their eggs and raise their young. Duvall is hoping to break that habit, when the location is a condo tower, so that the geese go back to safe nesting places.

Another issue is that geese are increasingly comfortable nesting downtown. A few years ago, one goose family even laid eggs near the steps of Calgary City Hall.

A mother goose guards her eggs in a planter at City Hall. (CBC)

Duvall recommends making your deck or patio as uncomfortable as possible. Move your lawn furniture around to block floor space, install netting along rails, and put up coloured flags or balloons. Bird stores sell balloons, specifically for this purpose, with big eyes on them that work well to scare geese.

"You want to humanely prevent them from accessing these areas, as much as possible," she said.

Don't touch the birds

If geese do nest in a dangerous environment, they can be moved only by a professional with a permit from the Canadian Wildlife Service. Geese are protected under the Migratory Birds Convention Act.

Moving the geese can be dangerous, too, Duvall said. The birds have been known to attack wildlife staff or fly off, abandoning their goslings.

"If we can start preventing now, then these things will become less and less over time," she said. "The sooner we start it, the sooner we can hopefully end the nesting in these areas."

Each spring, the wildlife institute gets about 100 calls from homeowners looking to have geese moved, she said.


With files from the Calgary Eyeopener.

Corrections

  • A previous version of this article said only a professional from the Canadian Wildlife Service with a permit can move a goose. In fact, the Canadian Wildlife Service will issue a permit to a professional, allowing that person to move the goose.
    Mar 26, 2018 1:59 PM MT