Dealing with what Canada geese leave behind drives some people crazy


ABSECON, NJ – A Canada goose’s brain is smaller than its pile of droppings, but the ubiquitous bird is not a dummy.

There is a thriving market for tools and services designed to scare them away, including lasers and an armada of highly trained border collies who love to hunt them. There are even decoys made in the likeness of alligators, coyotes, and swans, a distant and larger cousin that can intimidate a goose. Canada geese, protected by federal migratory bird laws, hook up quickly, however, and will continue to peck the grass while pooping on them once they realize the decoys won’t hurt them. wrong.

“Canada geese are smarter than you might think, and they are excellent parents,” said Lynsey White, director of humane conflict resolution with wildlife for the Humane Society of the United States. “They are mostly harmless. It’s the droppings that bother people.

Charles Sabatini, an engineer who lives in a suburb just outside of Atlantic City, took a different approach to his goose problem last summer with an old, faded Ford pickup truck. He said he was only trying to scare them, but one witness thought otherwise and so he ended up being charged with illegal hunting.

“I was just driving around them and honking my horn trying to get them out of my lawn,” Sabatini said outside his house on Thursday. “I ended up getting four tickets.”

Sabatini said he was not hunting and that he did not kill or injure any geese that July afternoon. The charges were dropped last month, and Sabatini apologized for addressing foul language to the eyewitness who confronted him on the street, and also agreed to follow the rules regarding nuisance geese.

“I learned more about geese and how much they knock than I wanted,” said Nancy Adams, Sabatini’s partner. “We call this experience the goose gate or the goose gate.”

The fight is real: While Sabatini’s reaction may have been extreme, the Canada goose conundrum is real. Once hunted to near extinction, the Canada goose rebounded and hundreds of thousands of people settled permanently in the Delaware Valley instead of migrating north. Millions of people also live in every other state in the country except Hawaii. In many ways, the Philadelphia suburb is a perfect home for geese with expansive, flat, mown lawns, golf courses, corporate parks, and athletic fields, where they can eat fresh grass and defecate.

It is goose poo that causes the most complaints, as it covers football fields, stains sidewalks and, unfortunately, attracts dogs. Geese poop a lot, up to 12 times a day, according to some sources, and collectively that’s between one and two pounds a day. There is also a service for that.

“They don’t play,” said Shyla Omorogieva, co-owner of Delaware-based Goose Poop Removal Services, which uses a vacuum system to remove excrement.

A Rutgers University report on Canada geese said birds can help the ecosystem by dispersing seeds, through their droppings and acting as prey for coyotes, foxes and other predators. However, according to the report, large groups can displace other waterfowl, and the droppings contain “several bacteria and parasites that can be pathogenic to humans.”

Yet the Canada goose is the symbol of the region’s beloved Wawa, and some people can see their beauty. The website claims that most of a goose’s daily dumping ground has been overdone.

“Their poop smells better than ours! One author wrote on the site.

Canada geese gather at Heritage Park on Thursday in front of Charles Sabatini's home in Absecon, New Jersey.  He tried to use a van to scare the geese.

Driving: Sabatini, who lives one block from a pond filled with Canada geese last week, keeps a record on the bird. The Humane Society’s guide to Canada geese is one of its documents. A document comes from the US Department of Agriculture, which states that vehicles are an approved method of harassing geese.

“He’s a tough bird. They barely moved, ”said Robert Herman, Sabatini’s lawyer.

Barbara DiMauro, the eyewitness, said she was driving when she saw Sabatini steer her truck towards the geese. DiMauro, who volunteers for a bird rescue, said Sabatini drives fast enough to stir up dust and make donuts on his lawn in pursuit of the birds.

“The geese were in distress,” she said. “He was trying to crush them. “

Canada Geese and signage near the lake in Heritage Park on June 10, 2021, in front of Charles Sabatini's home in Absecon, NJ.  He says they're a nuisance, defecating all over the place.  (Tom Gralish / The Philadelphia Inquirer / TNS)

Human methods: White, of the Humane Society, said the agency supports various methods of treating pest geese that are ethical and not harmful to birds. One method of population control is called “adding eggs” and may include oiling, piercing or removing eggs from the nest. Oiling involves rubbing corn oil on the eggs.

“The oil prevents oxygen from being absorbed,” she said.

The Humane Society also supports “aversion therapy” with trained border collies that will hunt geese. Bob Young, 60, founded his South Jersey-based business – Geese Chasers – on this model when his dog hunted geese near a golf course years ago.

“The gardener asked me if I would come back,” Young said.

Young, who franchises the business, said border collies work best because they will go into the water, which is important for the harassment to set in. They will not attack geese either, which would be illegal.

“They are shepherds, not waste pickers,” he says.

Sabatini does not have a dog. He resorted to blows with a stick when the geese reappear. The truck is still on the lawn, but the geese it chased last year have probably already hung on.

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