Canada geese have made themselves at home in Georgia, and not everyone is happy about it.
The adaptable bird can live in a variety of places, from open farms and rural reservoirs to suburban neighborhoods and office parks.
Beginning last fall, morning walkers noticed a gaggle of geese started showing up on the Northeast High School football field.
Jacqueline Johnson, who regularly exercises on the track, isn’t bothered too much by them.
“A lot of people are scared of them and they done stopped walking,” Johnson said last fall. “But they don’t do nothing, seems like to me. You know, I’m scared of dogs. Now if a dog was around here, I wouldn’t be up here.”
Johnson walks along the edge of the track to track her mileage.
That keeps her as far away as she can from the geese, which is pretty smart, according to Greg Balkcom, a waterfowl biologist for the Wildlife Resources Division of the Georgia Department of Natural Resources.
“Geese that have adapted to people, either because they are being fed or because they are so close to humans on a daily basis, can become aggressive,” Balkcom said.
Nuisance complaints typically follow the increase in the goose population.
Nesting season is getting underway, which can cause the geese to become more aggressive.
“When you have resident geese nesting near developed areas like office complexes or apartment buildings, the geese will defend their nest against all intruders, and that includes chasing or charging people,” Balkcom said.
Canada geese are a protected species under state and federal law, which means it is illegal to hunt, kill, sell, purchase or possess the geese except according to Georgia’s migratory bird regulations.
Homeowners can discourage nesting by using chemical repellents, Mylar balloons, wire or string barriers and noise makers.
Permits also are available to reduce goose reproduction by destroying nests or tampering with the eggs, such as coating them with oil and preventing oxygen from penetrating the shell and killing the embryo.
“A permit is easy to attain, and can be useful in certain situations — such as a homeowner that may have the geese nesting close to home,” Balkcom said. “Additionally, it is a way to keep a minimum number of adult geese on the property without the population growing too large through years of unchecked reproduction.”