Seattle Parks and Recreation Jesús Aguirre, Superintendent
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Resident Canada Geese: FAQ
April 2002

What are resident Canada geese?
Resident Canada geese are non-migratory Canada geese that live and nest mainly in the U.S.

How did they get here?
In the late 1960s, wildlife biologists brought them here from the Columbia River basin to expand their range and to bolster their dwindling populations.

Why are there so many?
Resident Canada geese have stayed in our region because the climate and food supply are well suited to their needs. The estimated population in Seattle is 3,000, and in the region, 25,000.

Aren't they protected by federal law?
Resident Canada geese are protected under the Migratory Bird Treaty Act; to addle eggs or remove Canada geese, a property owner must get a permit from the US Fish and Wildlife Service.

What harm do they cause?
Each bird leaves up to three pounds of droppings each day, much of it in parks, on golf courses, on waterfronts, beaches, athletic fields and other places. The droppings are expensive to clean up and make parks and other facilities unusable. In June of 2000, the Seattle/King County Board of Public Health unanimously adopted a resolution supporting the decision to request the removal of up to 3,500 adult geese in Western Washington. The resolution states in part: "the accumulation of goose feces . . . presents a public health concern throughout the region due to increased risk of exposure to disease organisms by humans who come into contact with the feces . . . Canada goose feces contain disease-causing organisms which include salmonella, giardia and cryptosporidium."

How has the government tried to control the problem?
Parks departments and other agencies around the region have tried many methods, including:

  • Daily cleaning and sweeping
  • Letting grass grow longer
  • Tying Mylar fringe or "scare eyes" to docks and other waterfront structures
  • Applying commercial repellents to grass
  • Sending geese out of the area
  • Using dogs to chase the geese away
  • Egg addling
  • Limited euthanasia

Has any of these methods worked?
Each works, alone and in combination with others, in a limited way. Geese acclimate to longer grass and eat it eventually. Likewise, they grow used to fringe and scare eyes, which then no longer scare them. The commercial repellents wash away with the rain and need to be reapplied frequently to be effective. Other communities outside the region no longer welcome relocated Canada geese from our region. Using dogs merely chases the geese from one spot to the next, and is not beneficial as a regional solution. Egg addling results in the hatching of fewer eggs, which in turn reduces the growth in the population. Limited removal has reduced the number of Canada geese from some locations.

What will happen in 2002?
Seattle, Bellevue and other cities in the region have a contract with USDA Wildlife Services. Under the contract, USDA is authorized to addle up to 2,500 eggs and to remove up to 4,200 geese from the 12 counties surrounding Puget Sound. USDA will step up its addling efforts, which customarily include two visits to each nesting site. Each city will continue its combination of methods to control the goose population.

Who should use the hotline?
The hotline is for property owners in Seattle Bellevue, Federal Way, Kent, Kirkland, Mercer Island, Mountlake Terrace, Redmond, Renton, Woodinville and unincorporated urban areas of King County who have geese nesting on their property.

How does it work?
Simply leave your name, mailing address and daytime telephone number. You will receive a packet in the mail that includes a permission form, to be signed by the property owner, for biologists to enter the property and addle Canada goose eggs.

If I experience a Canada goose problem on my property, what else can I do about it?

  • Do not feed the Canada geese.
  • Put up a temporary fence near the water’s edge during June and July.
  • Let your grass grow longer and fertilize less.
  • Plant a shrub buffer near the water’s edge.
  • Apply commercial repellents to your grass.
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