Hissing, honking Canada geese destroying yards in central Alberta town

The town of Blackfalds, Alta. is looking at ways to deal with a growing, rowdy population of Canada geese that's moved from marshlands to suburban streets.

Blackfalds, north of Red Deer, fighting back against unwelcome 'party-goers'

A photo taken by a Blackfalds resident in August shows close to three dozen geese hanging out on a street near a community marshland. (Loren Marchuk)

The town of Blackfalds in central Alberta is looking at ways of dealing with rowdy Canada geese.

At a meeting this week, Blackfalds town council heard complaints about Canada geese hissing at residents, waddling in large groups through neighbourhoods and destroying front yards.

The town has received five formal complaints from residents and more grousing on social media.

The problem is most evident in communities that surround marshlands and ponds, with yards backing onto the green spaces and trails.

It's a common setup in new neighbourhood development and it attracts home-buyers and waterfowl alike.

Photos taken in August show nearly three dozen geese walking down a suburban street in Blackfalds, a town of 10,125 people, 14 kilometres north of Red Deer.

Canada geese take Blackfalds streets

4 years ago
Duration 1:11
The town of Blackfalds, Alta is dealing with rowdy geese moving from marshlands to nearby streets.

"One councillor said they look like party-goers and you don't know if they're coming or going," Mayor Richard Poole said in an interview.

While the issue may not be pressing for some residents, co-existing with a rising population of geese can be more concerning for others.

"For the residents on those streets it's disturbing to have flocks of geese walking down their streets, and geese have known to come walking down their streets," Poole said.

"They have kids, and of course geese are known to come hissing after kids."

Destroying nests recommended

The agenda for Wednesday's council meeting included an email from a senior permits officer with Canadian Wildlife Services.

The email refers to the situation faced by Blackfalds as a common one across Canada. The permits officer said Canada geese populations are on the rise and permits to manage them have tripled over the past decade.

The officer recommended collecting and destroying nests, or growing three metres of vegetation around wetlands because the birds are wary of predators they can't see.

The birds are protected under the Migratory Birds Convention Act but permits can be granted by Environment and Climate Change Canada, Canadian Wildlife Service to kill them if they are causing damage or danger.

There has been no decision that any action will be taken at this time.- Mayor Richard Poole

The town's parks manager is looking at the recommendations, but Poole said town staff are being proactive.

"There has been no decision that any action will be taken at this time," he said. "We are right now in the investigative stage."

Geese flocked to Centennial Park this summer but the birds became an issue for some residents after they made their way into neighbourhood streets. (Travis McEwan/CBC)

Gone south for the winter?

Small numbers of the birds were spotted in the wetlands areas on Thursday by CBC News, but none in the street.

Poole is hoping the colder weather may be scaring the birds south a little earlier than usual, but he expects them to return next year as geese tend to return to the nesting grounds and the town wants to be ready.




Travis McEwan

Video journalist

Travis McEwan is a video journalist who covers stories ranging from human interest and sports to municipal and provincial issues. Originally from Churchill, Man., Travis has spent the last decade working at CBC Edmonton reporting for web, radio and television. Email story ideas to travis.mcewan@cbc.ca.