Canada Geese in the Puget Sound Region -
a Brief History
In the late-1990s through the first few years of this decade, Canada Geese were rounded up and killed each summer in Seattle's public parks (and at other locations, such as the University of Washington campus and private golf courses) as part of regional efforts to control their numbers. Urban wildlife are understandably attracted to the lush green spaces and easy access to water that many of the parks offer. Unfortunately, geese have come to be viewed by some as nuisance animals, mainly because of the copious amounts of feces they leave on beaches, play fields, and park lawns.
A Program to Promote Humane Alternatives to Killing
The "lethal removal" of geese has been opposed by PAWS and The Humane Society of the United States (HSUS), who in 2004 developed and launched a pilot program to help Seattle Parks and Recreation explore humane methods of managing the conflict between geese and people in some of the city's most popular recreation areas. The goal of the PAWS/HSUS partnership is to see this program evolve into a permanent replacement for the "lethal removal" of geese in Seattle parks, and to serve as a model for other communities experiencing similar conflicts with wildlife.
The Seattle Goose Program wrapped up a three-year pilot project in September 2006 and continued to provide volunteers in 2007 and 2008 for work parties and other projects. PAWS is pleased to report that our combined efforts toward humanely solving human-goose conflicts at select public beaches and parks around Seattle has been deemed a success. We've laid the foundation for a program that can be fully-integrated within Seattle Parks and Recreation with continued support from PAWS and The HSUS as well as members of the community.
Permanent Parks Program
To date, it is PAWS' understanding that no program of humanely managing geese has been established in Seattle's parks, however, thanks to the work of volunteers and community members who have supported humane solutions, lethal removal of geese on parks' property has also not been reinstated. PAWS hopes that when a program is finally started, these are some of the humane methods we hope to see regularly employed.
- Locating goose nesting sites so eggs can be addled by trained volunteers and personnel (treated with corn oil in order to keep them from developing and hatching).
- Using light-emitting "laser" devices, goose-deterring kites, and trained dog teams to encourage geese to leave the most problematic areas.
- Cleaning goose poop from the beaches and recreation areas used most by people—this helps reduce complaints about geese making parks and beaches unusable by the public.
- Educating the public concerning conflict resolution with geese and effective, humane methods used.
- Exploring additional humane techniques designed to move geese away from high-impact areas, such as habitat modification.
How You Can Help
You can help by letting your Seattle and other community leaders know how important humane management of conflicts with geese and other urban wildlife is to you. Encourage your community to join in on these efforts. To learn more about humane goose management, visit the Humane Society of the United States page.