back to article Parks and recreation escalate efforts to take back control of field terrorised by thug geese

Geese are a crowd favourite at petting zoos for tot-flattening abilities rivalled only by the goat. This also means they are not to be trifled with, as a small Pennsylvanian town has discovered. Canada geese have been squatting on a field adjoining a community centre in Palmer Township, Northampton County, chugging White …

  1. Allonymous Coward

    I for one welcome our avian overlords

    Etc etc.

    Icon, because bird.

    1. HildyJ Silver badge

      Re: I for one welcome our avian overlords

      Geese aren't birds, they're evil feathered dragons, fit only for roasting and foie gras.

  2. Alister Silver badge

    My Dad's working collies, whilst able to quell a flock of sheep with a look, are in mortal fear of his geese. They'm bad bastards....

    1. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

      Even if they got on even terms they'd likely just herd them. Years ago when the farmers wife kept hens in the field behind us if the collies were at a loose end they'd round them up, apparently just for fun.

    2. Nolveys

      You don't know fear until you have seen a flock of geese feeding in the corpse of a border collie.

    3. CrazyOldCatMan Silver badge

      collies, whilst able to quell a flock of sheep with a look, are in mortal fear of his geese

      In our local park we have a family of swans and a bunch of Canada geese (as well as misc. ducks/grebes/water rails etc etc).

      The geese are petrified of the swans. The other, smaller waterfowl are petrified of the geese but get on OK with the swans.

      The geese and swans are not at all worried by dogs (except, maybe, big German Shepherds). The cob swan has been known to attack dogs that come *anywhere* near his cygnets..

  3. Aladdin Sane Silver badge

    No luck catching them swans then?

    1. Korev Silver badge


    2. Cuddles Silver badge

      Just one goose actually.

  4. Crisp

    Where I live it's ill tempered ducks.

    You see them in groups on the lake just swanning about.

    1. Korev Silver badge

      Re: Where I live it's ill tempered ducks.

      The little duckers!

    2. Alan Brown Silver badge

      Re: Where I live it's ill tempered ducks.

      ducking about, shirly?

  5. Sgt_Oddball Silver badge

    Multiple geese?

    Canadian geese no less? I spot a sequel in the making to "untitled goose game".

    "Still untitled goose game"

    - this time it's impersonal.

    Troll icon because press Y to honk.

  6. DocNo

    Geese police

    A building I used to work in had geese problems and everyone complained when they brought the dogs in. So the building management found a company that made a dye for the grass that only the geese could see and also didn’t like. They stopped visiting; the parking lot and sidewalks were once again poo free.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Geese police

      More humane than a shotgun, I suppose, although it lacks the advantages of a roast goose dinner afterwards.

      1. elkster88

        Re: Geese police

        A former cow-orker accidentally[1] skittled a tame Canada goose in the company car park with his pickup truck. Roast roadkill goose was an integral part of the next office pot luck lunch. Tasted a bit different than the wild harvested one he also cooked (typically mostly corn-fed), not bad, but different.

        [1] AFAIK

    2. CrazyOldCatMan Silver badge

      Re: Geese police

      parking lot and sidewalks were once again poo free

      My young dog quite enjoys the vegetarian delights of fresh goose poo. But then, being one of our pets, he is a trifle... odd.

      We do have a normal[1] pet. Who is steadily getting less normal.

      [1] She's a young cat and so - in context, attacking anything that moves is perfectly normal.

    3. Michael Wojcik Silver badge

      Re: Geese police

      Geese Police is a real firm. I saw one of their trucks on the road once. (I know, cool story.)

  7. Hans Neeson-Bumpsadese

    "The coyotes were completely ineffective,"

    Did they learn nothing about coyote versus bird conflict from the Roadrunner cartoons?

    1. Allonymous Coward

      I learned that ACME Corp had infiltrated its way into almost every aspect of industry.

      1. Rich 11 Silver badge

        Gotta keep feeding that canidae-industrial complex.

      2. Alan Brown Silver badge

        Did you ever spot that one of the major shareholders was a Mr R.Runner?

  8. Timo

    Federally protected

    ISTR that Canada geese are federally protected in the US, so a layperson can't just go move nests or do any harm without severe penalty. So there is an industry of certified goose-botherers that has cropped up, with their dogs or their shotguns with blanks.

    1. GrahamRJ

      Re: Federally protected

      Why are they protected? If they were rare then I could understand it, but the world is currently in no danger of running out of Canada geese.

      Mind you, the fact that anything apart from millionaires' bank accounts is federally protected in the US is at least a demonstration that some parts of their administration aren't totally batshit insane.

      1. Ben Trabetere

        Re: Federally protected

        "Why are they protected? "

        I asked a coworker about that when I lived in Ohio and our office parking lot was being menaced by these chin-strap thugs. It was against company policy to shoo away or otherwise torment the birds, and harming one could get you fired. He said they were protected by the Migratory Bird Treaty Act of 1918.

        I argued that our geese were year-round residents and, as such, should not qualify as "migratory."

        There was a retention pond next to the office, and the goose problem was temporarily resolved when the company rented a pair of swans from a fellow who rented them out as scaregeese. The swans paddled around the retention pond for a few days, and the geese went to menace elsewhere. The geese returned a couple of weeks after the swans were relocated. Not sure if that qualifies migratory.

        1. CrazyOldCatMan Silver badge

          Re: Federally protected

          The swans paddled around the retention pond for a few days, and the geese went to menace elsewhere

          That's because swans are even more evil thugs than geese.. Fortunately, swans don't come in flocks..

          (Family groups maybe - but the parents will always drive away their adult cygnets when it comes round to breeding time so that the new cygnets won't face competition..)

          1. Robert Helpmann??

            Re: Federally protected

            Fortunately, swans don't come in flocks.

            Quite right. They come in bevies and wedges.

            1. jake Silver badge

              Re: Federally protected

              If you're lucky, swans come out of ovens.

      2. jake Silver badge

        Re: Federally protected

        They are protected as a part of the Migratory Birds Act ... but that doesn't mean you can't shoot them. There is a designated hunting season, but take note of bag limits. Also, you CAN get federal permits to remove non-migratory populations which have become nuisances. When we first moved into this property, we had around 80 Canada Geese that lived here year-round, squeezing out local waterfowl. The prior owner had fed them regularly, making them into rather dangerous, noisy, stinky, messy, destructive "pets".

        It took about two years (and the ire of local greenies) before we received our federal permit to remove the problem. It's been almost two decades of carefully culling the flock, but now we now have a manageable population of what is in essence domestic Canada Geese. And ongoing permission to cull them as required, to keep the population under control. (We are audited yearly.)

        Don't worry, the harvested culled critters don't go to waste. They do, however, go to waist ... Them's seriously good eats!

        1. not.known@this.address Silver badge

          Re: Federally protected

          Quote: "They are protected as a part of the Migratory Birds Act ... but that doesn't mean you can't shoot them. There is a designated hunting season, but take note of bag limits."

          I went and shot the maximum the game laws would allow - two game wardens, seven hunters and a cow...

          Mine's the camouflage one with "An Evening Wasted With Tom Lehrer" in the pocket :-)

          1. jake Silver badge

            Re: Federally protected

            Lehrer wasn't satirizing hunters, he was satirizing city slickers with a deer tag.

            On the rare occasion that I wear camo, it's bright orange. I don't want the likes of Dick Cheney mistaking me for game. This wardrobe change only happens on opening weekend of deer hunting season. That's when the city slickers come out to the woods and blaze away at anything that moves, thus causing any wildlife with a central nervous system to dive for deep cover until the clueless idiots go home again.

      3. GrumpyKiwi

        Re: Federally protected

        They're not protected in NZ, they're a major pest - you can hunt them any time of the year using any method. They're also smart enough that they're bloody hard to do pest control on. They're big enough that shotgun rounds designed for ducks are shrugged off, and cunning enough to not let people get close enough to use larger rounds. The best bag I ever got required sitting with a supressed rifle on a hill more than 200 meters away from the pond - I got just two. The remaining 30 or so took flight.

        Any Canadian goose dinners we get are well earned and have required teamwork, a good dog and more than a little luck.

  9. Lazlo Woodbine

    "Flying hellbastards"

    You owe me a new keyboard...

    1. Mike Richards Silver badge

      Re: "Flying hellbastards"

      It sounds like an awesome WW2 airforce unit.

  10. iron Silver badge

    Should have put Ron Swanson on the case.

    1. Aladdin Sane Silver badge

      He would have done precisely nothing.

  11. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward



  12. Commswonk Silver badge

    Once Upon A Time...

    When working at <redacted, but slight clue later!> some 24 years ago I and a colleague had to go to a farm to set up a (very temporary) SHF link for some news OB. I knew that trouble loomed when on trying to get through the gateway into the farmyard a couple of domestic geese (i.e. the white variety) squared up to me, notwithstanding the fact that I was driving about 9 tonnes of vehicle. I couldn't stay in the cab all day so I got out and the geese made it perfectly clear that I and my vehicle were not welcome on their territory.

    Anyway the spot where we had to park and work was a short distance from where the geese were at their most protective so work continued uninterrupted until it came to pass that we decided on a brew - up, only to realise that the milk was in my colleague's car, and that was still within their designated security zone.

    With 2 malevolent geese standing there my colleague was unwilling to risk going to her car, so I had to act as a decoy to lure the geese away from it. The geese decided that they really didn't like me, allowing my colleague to retrieve her car unmolested. I then had to run back to safety to avoid the avian hooligans, so "mission accomplished" and a brew was served.

    24 years later and running from geese - or anything else for that matter - is something I'd rather not have to do.

  13. HammerOn1024


    Funny... where I'm from we call them shotguns. They are very effective in removing said geese problems. The same system is very useful for getting rid of all sorts of unwanted lifeforms. Cheep to operate, train folks to use and quite safe to transport to multiple locations.

    Environmentally friendly materials for the system are available too. And the remains of the offending lifeforms are compostable... either directly or post cooking and served with a meal.

    1. Dr Dan Holdsworth

      Re: Funny...

      Birds like wild geese are typically very frightened of weird, fast-moving unidentified things, and a spot of laser light from a nice bright green laser looks to birds like an extremely dodgy thing, especially when the laser is waved around in a threatening way.

      Effectively all you need is a fairly persistent and childish individual with a laser to frighten geese all day long, until they get fed up of being tormented and depart for somewhere else.

      1. CrazyOldCatMan Silver badge

        Re: Funny...

        fairly persistent and childish individual

        Which I suspect covers most of El Reg commentards..

        1. jake Silver badge

          Re: Funny...

          I once overheard my Grandfather tell my Grandmother that he'd stop acting childish if he ever grew up. He was in his early 90s at the time. IMO, life's far to short to live the last 75+% constantly forcing one's self to be an "adult" (whatever that means).

          1. vogon00

            Re: Funny...

            Never mind forcing one's self to be "adult"... i have a hard enough time forcing myself to be "nice"...

    2. Mark 85 Silver badge

      Re: Funny...

      Shotguns work. A town I used to live in had a pigeon problem. Literally hundreds of them downtown and hanging around the square. The city fathers decided the shotgun approach would work. So one Saturday morning, around a hundred citizens met on the green armed and ready. After about 2 hours they had to call it off as complaints were rolling in about bloody birds falling out of the sky onto houses, cars, and children.

      I shudder to think what goose falling would do to a car. On the other hand... they are tasty.

      1. jake Silver badge

        Re: Funny...

        "I shudder to think what goose falling would do to a car."

        Probably not as much damage as you might think. I ran into one that was flying low across Hwy 101 just South of Cloverdale a couple years ago. I was doing about 70MPH. Took out the right front running light and put a slight dent in the grill/headlight trim of my 1975 F-250. No other damage. There is a lot of air in feathers and bird bones, provides some cushioning on impact.

        No other damage to the truck, that is ... The only bits of goose that were salvageable were the right leg and breast. Threw 'em into the little smoker, 220F, no seasoning at all, just wine barrel stave smoke for about 2.5 hours. Tasty.

  14. Ochib

    You mess with the honk, you get the bonk

  15. jmch Silver badge

    "if there's something winged in your neighbourhood, who you gonna call?"

    Paw Patrol?

    1. Mike Moyle Silver badge

      Re: "if there's something winged in your neighbourhood, who you gonna call?"


    2. Evil_Goblin

      Re: "if there's something winged in your neighbourhood, who you gonna call?"

      Paw Patrol downvoted as I'm convinced that my toddler uses it as a form of anti-parent psychological warfare

    3. CrazyOldCatMan Silver badge

      Re: "if there's something winged in your neighbourhood, who you gonna call?"

      Paw Patrol?

      I think getting in the local puma brigade to deal with geese might be aking to cutting off your arm to cure a minor skin complaint..

      1. jake Silver badge

        Re: "if there's something winged in your neighbourhood, who you gonna call?"

        Nah. They avoid our geese, probably for the simple reason that the geese live too close to human activity. Mountain Lions (Puma, Cougar, Catamount, etc.) don't travel in "brigades", they are (mostly) solitary. Also, with rare exception, they quite sensibly avoid humans at all costs. They are, all in all, a very easy big predator to share space with.

        I've seen one maybe twenty times in all the years we've lived here, nearly always just before sun-up ... although I see evidence of their existence regularly. We live on the junction between three of their territories, and quite appreciate the fine job they do controlling the wild turkey population and taking care of deer with broken legs and the like. I've lost a couple dozen lambs to them over the years ... but only lambs that managed to stray beyond the field the rest of their flock was in. I don't fault the cats for this, and look on it a being another variation on the angel's share.

  16. Alistair

    You should see the marina

    Last I was there, despite the temperature being about -10C, and the bay at about 70% frozen, the number of geese in residence had to be close to 6 or 7 *thousand* birds. And damn do they get into some ugly arguments with one another. Loud. In January.

  17. Paul Cooper

    In Ancient Rome, Geese sacred to Juno were kept on the Arx, the ancient acropolis of Rome. This dates back to a time when geese gave warning of invaders after the dogs had failed to do so. There was an annual festival where dogs were sacificed while the Geese were led in triumphal procession.

    Given that bit of history, I don't think dogs are going to bother geese one little bit!

    1. BuckeyeB

      I'd put my Jack Russels up against any pack of geese. These w*****s are crazy.

  18. Chris King

    Hell Hath No Fury... hung-over swans.

    I used to live opposite a pub next to a waterway, and swans would congregate there. If you decided to eat or drink outside when the swans were around, you were taking your life into your hands - they would relieve you of your food, and help themselves to your drinks.

    They would then sleep it off for a while, but invariably woke up all bad-tempered and fighty.

    They weren't in the same league as Mister Asbo though.

  19. jake Silver badge

    Selectively shooting them is the only thing that will work.

    They have become non-migratory for a reason ... that reason being that the location is perfect goose habitat. Humans NOT hunting is a part of the reason it's such a good habitat ... even if you shift the existing population, wild ones will settle into the slot and take over. Obtaining a federal permit to send in hunters to remove most of the problem birds, leaving only a few behind to fill what would otherwise become a vacuum, is the only thing that will work long-term. Once you've got the basic problem under control, standard hunting licenses should be able to maintain it.

    Of course the greenies will shout down this logical approach to a man-made problem ...

    1. IGotOut Silver badge

      Re: Selectively shooting them is the only thing that will work.

      Although the shotgun does work you are curing the illness.

      Have they bothered to work out why they are so attracted to the area?

      It most likely is down to idiots feeding them

      See Gull (not Seagull as there is no such beast) issues in UK coastal towns for a great example of this.

      1. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

        Re: Selectively shooting them is the only thing that will work.

        "in UK coastal towns for a great example of this"

        If only they'd stay in the coastal towns. Or at least, just on the coast.

        1. jake Silver badge

          Re: Selectively shooting them is the only thing that will work.

          All of the UK is coastal. It's just a little island, with no elevation to speak of. I've seen gulls on the highest hilltops of Eryri and in the heart of the so called "highlands" of Scotland. Takes a bit of a storm to blow them into the Yorkshire side of the Pennines, but I've seem 'em there, too.

  20. Grogan

    Back around 1999/2000, I had an apartment in the Etobicoke district of Toronto Canada, near Lakeshore BLVD. A stone's throw from my building was a nice lake side view of belching smoke stacks, and there was a nice park. It was also overwhelmed with geese (Canada geese) and I am not exaggerating, I've never seen so many geese anywhere in my life. You couldn't walk on the park lawns, as you'd be slipping in goose shit and you couldn't take children to this park for geese would chase people and try to hit them with their wing bones. People don't realize it, but geese are dangerous birds and can easily break a child's leg. But nobody was allowed to do anything about the geese, any time a call for action came up people were "Nooooo!" (and of course most of these people didn't even live in the area).

    Noisy, smelly, ornery things. I hate them.

    1. jake Silver badge

      "I hate them."

      I can change your tune. Try roasting them with carrots, onions, celery and fennel. Salt, pepper and the ubiquitous bay leaf doesn't hurt. Serve with potatoes (any cooking method, I like mashed). Turn the drippings into real gravy for the spuds. Two or three veg of choice rounds out the meal.

      The smell of one cooking might attract your neighbors, so share. They are plenty big for a crowd.

      Don't forget to turn the carcass into stock! Waste not, want not.

      1. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

        Re: "I hate them."

        "Turn the drippings into real gravy for the spuds."

        Don't forget the Yorkshire puddings which, of course, are a starter.

        1. jake Silver badge

          Re: "I hate them."

          I save Yorkshire pud for beef. Call me a purest.

          Besides, I save the goose (and duck) fat for roasting spuds. Sticking it into a iron pan that's hot enough to start it smoking seems to be sacrilege somehow.

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: "I hate them."

            What, no dog meat in the Yorkshire pudding?

            1. jake Silver badge

              Re: "I hate them."

              Your comment is not even wrong.

    2. whitepines Silver badge

      If the government won't let the pest problem be cleaned up, perhaps petition to close the park (stop taxing and funding it) and sell it off to the highest bidding developer? Sounds like tragedy of the commons, but with a twist -- if the park isn't usable as a park, why pay for it?

      All of the parks around here are much the same. Covered in goose shit and the brazen buggers even stand in front of vehicle traffic to halt it.

  21. Neoc

    "Now they're rolling out the big guns: real coyotes"

    Yes, because that concept worked so well in Oz with rabbits and cane toads...

    1. jake Silver badge

      Except ...

      ... the coyote is native to North America. Last time I checked, Pennsylvania was in North America. So no, nothing at all like rabbits & cane toads (and cats!) in Oz.

      In actual fact, the coyotes of the Lehigh Valley, where Palmer Township is located, have been there since at least the 1940s, after Humans made the territory more hospitable to them by deforestation and eradicating the local Wolf population. They weren't "brought in", they simply moved in to fill the niche that was made available to them.

      In fact, I'm willing to bet that the park in question already has a population of coyotes ... they are very opportunistic and can fit in with humans pretty much anywhere. Even the City of San Francisco has a local population of coyotes. All the Township probably needs to do is encourage them instead of harassing them.

  22. BuckeyeB

    Maj. Eaton: And it will be, I assure you, Doctor Brody, Doctor Jones. We have top men working on it right now.

    Jones: Who?

    Maj. Eaton: Top... men...

  23. MrSamsoniteIWasWayOff

    Two Words: Baby Ducks

    They gots lasers, and can combine to form into Hyper Duck to fight the geese.

  24. Michael Wojcik Silver badge

    My heart knows what the wild goose knows, and the wild goose knows a fake coyote when it sees one.

    (It's just as well. According to a documentary I've seen, coyotes don't fare well against birds.)

  25. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Not geese but - NSFW

POST COMMENT House rules

Not a member of The Register? Create a new account here.

  • Enter your comment

  • Add an icon

Anonymous cowards cannot choose their icon

Biting the hand that feeds IT © 1998–2021