Each year the population of the Canada Goose increases on Long Island. These geese do not migrate, they live here on Long Island all year round. Migrating geese do stop over and visit in early spring and late autumn, but they only stay a short time. Migrating geese are the triathlon athletes, they will fly almost 100 miles a day, rest and refuel on our grass for a couple of days and be on their way again. Residential geese are the “couch-potatoes,” they fly around in a five-mile radius just looking for a spot with fresh water and grass to spend their day visiting. Long Island is ideal for them, we have plenty of grass and fresh water.
Each spring we see hundreds of geese with goslings walking around and stopping traffic. The goslings will not be able to fly until they are three-months of age, so they walk everywhere looking for fresh water and grass. Housing communities with ponds are very enticing. Under the cover of dark the geese will walk into these housing communities and put their babies in the pond. The ponds are the safest place for the babies since they have no defense from fox or other predators.
Many people question why we do not hunt them to reduce the population. Well, in 1918 due to a large decrease of wild birds, the Migratory Bird Treaty Act was established to regulate hunting of wild birds. This includes the Canada Goose. Since Long Island is a very human populated area, hunting is very restricted.
There are several alternate methods to control the Canada Geese besides hunting. The most effective method is the use of Border Collie dogs. The Border Collie dog is a Scottish bred herding dog. The Scots would use these dogs to contain the sheep inside the borders of their properties. Border Collies use a unique method of herding. Most herding breeds nip at their herd to push them in the direction they want the herd to go. Border Collie dogs use their unwavering eye and body posture to push the herd. They will position themselves on the opposite side they want to move the herd and pressure the herd in the direction they want. They will also circle the herd to contain the sheep in a circle when stragglers start to wander out of the herd. With these methods, they do not touch the sheep. Therefore, Border Collie dogs are highly recommended for controlling Canada Geese. The Border Collie is also a non-aggressive breed of dog, they are known to be sweet in temperament and intense workaholics.
Here on Long Island, we have companies that use Border Collies to patrol properties where the dogs will herd or chase the geese to the air. With continued patrols, the geese learn to avoid these properties. After three months of service there is a 90% decrease in geese. Many government parks, golf courses and school districts who have geese ruining their grassy fields use this service due to its high effectiveness. Private businesses especially in Hauppauge and Melville use this service so their front lawns do not get eaten up by the geese and the employees are not in danger of slipping on goose excrement in the parking lot and walkways. With the increase in housing on Long Island, private housing communities and apartment complexes have embraced the Border Collie to get rid of their nuisance geese whom destroy the surrounding grass and/or ponds and litter the walkways with their feces.
Service includes a maintenance plan consisting of a minimum of two patrols a day. Some properties may require three or more patrols a day. The Border Collie is controlled by a handler who should be an experienced dog trainer. The handler is trained to set up the Border Collie at a safe starting point for the dog and the geese. For instance, some golf courses border roads. It is best to send the dog away from the road then across a field into the road. The handler’s job is to protect the dog, people and geese from harm. Also, these dogs are trained to respond immediately when called to avoid dangerous situations. Experienced handlers know that dog training is always a continued training effort of positive reinforcement.
As owner of Environmental Geese Control, Inc., I have several teams of handlers and Border Collie dogs. As the lead trainer, I can confirm that each dog has been temperament tested by the American Kennel Club and has received a “Canine Good Citizen” certification to ensure good temperament as well as trained to herd geese.
Kristine Schmidt is the president of Environmental Geese Control, Inc., Shirley, N.Y.