Don't Feed the Wildlife...Especially the Geese!

By Peter Daechsel

Have you noticed that we have a growing population of resident Canada geese in our neighborhood? If your home backs onto a lake or if you are a golfer, you have, for sure, seen the damage and mess first hand. This situation is only going to get worse, much worse, if we don’t take action to manage it.

The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission website states, “Sometimes resident or non-migratory, Canada geese damage property or crops, introduce disease, or present threats to public safety”.

At a recent meeting of the Deercreek Men’s Golf Association, there was a decision made to form an ad hoc committee to evaluate the options available for managing Canada goose activities at Deercreek. One thing is clear; if we do nothing the population will grow very quickly and the attractiveness of our wonderful community will be diminished. Here’s why, - some not so fun goose facts:

  1. Geese have a life span of up to 24 years.
  2. Geese are grazing animals, eating grasses and succulent plant material.
  3. An adult goose eats up to 4 lbs. of grass daily.
  4. An adult goose drops 2 lbs. of fecal matter daily.
  5. Geese typically return to the same nesting and birth sites every year.
  6. The average clutch size is slightly more than 5 eggs per nest.

It is estimated that an established goose population increases by 20% each year.

Tom Maxwell, Deercreek’s Head Golf Professional estimates there are approximately 200 geese in our neighborhood. In five years, if we do not manage the geese population, that number more than doubles. We already have a problem; imagine the extent of it if the geese population doubles! Do we want to be known as “Goose Creek?”

Based on initial research, there are a number of techniques to be considered for successful and cost-effective management of Canada goose activities. It appears that no one technique alone will be enough to overcome this challenge. Some of the options include:

  • Discontinuance of feeding
  • Habitat modification
  • Humane hazing and scaring techniques
  • Chemical repellents
  • Control of reproduction

In virtually every article on Canada goose management, the first control measure is to not feed them. It is known that feeding waterfowl can lead to crowding and increased susceptibility to diseases. So please, do not feed the geese or any other wildlife. They may be cute as fluffy little goslings, but they quickly grow into prolific adult geese.

Our plan moving forward is to:

  • Complete our research on available techniques.
  • Benchmark other Jacksonville communities that are further ahead of us on this topic.
  • Contact the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Wildlife Services to determine what support they may provide.
  • Draft a recommendation for a community goose management program.

In the meantime, we welcome input (and support) from the community. Please forward your suggestions to fldex@bellsouth.net and please do not feed the geese.