When Geese Go Bad…

A good friend, former boss, and coincidently, fellow trailer park refugee is now chief of operations for my organization. This spring, he has had to deal with a most ridiculous situation… Captured below, for your reading pleasure, are his words as he battles feathered foe, marginally functional tree-hugging co-workers, and armed militiamen on the organizational payroll…

ROUND 1 (His first e-mail to the masses)

Despite attempts to discourage them, it appears the geese have returned to nest in front of the main building. The male is very aggressive, having attacked at least 3 people this morning. At about 20 pounds he is not much of a threat and can easily be pushed back with a briefcase, handbag or umbrella. But with the hissing and the flapping wings he can be quite intimidating, especially if you don’t see him coming.

Our options now are to try to accommodate them, or have the male euthanized (we have the permit in hand).

Until the fate of the bird is decided, please warn your visitors to keep their head up as they enter and leave the front entrance. Or at least to keep their umbrella handy.

Following this mass mailing, he was deluged with commentary from the troops. He shared the comments with me… some of my favorites:

Had the male attempt a carrier landing on me on Saturday

350 degrees for 3 hours ought to do it.

If you decide to euthanize, I’ll picket the building.

But alas, the attacks continued – not only on employees and visitors, but on my friend as well. Having finally had enough, he shipped out the following a couple weeks later.

ROUND 2 (Follow up, after being amused and harrassed by the masses)

So that both the “grill the goose on an open spit on the front patio as lesson to all other geese” camp and the “have everyone park in distant lots and come in the side door dressed up as baby geese to make the geese comfortable” camp can sleep this weekend, here is additional info, and an update.

Background

The “accommodate vs terminate” nature of the first message was arrived at through discussions with representatives from our landlord and the Department of Natural Resources who govern these matters. Here was the basic logic flow.

Accomodating the geese by allowing them to nest on or near our entrance is not acceptable. We did this last year. It was ill advised. The geese were stressed and even with our obstacles managed to attack an average of a person a day for almost 6 weeks. Like a lot of you, I used to think these attacks were kind of funny. (Some of you apparently even relish the combat and frankly your e-mails scare me a little.)

We need to keep in mind that a lot of our people are just not comfortable with daily confrontation with an aggressive wild animal which is trying to knock them down or bite them. We’ve had employees injured, and others have been traumatized and even sought counseling.

On top of this human impact is the cost. Building barriers, maintaining constant awareness and education, and cleaning the patio are not free. The DNR people expressed mild shock at the measures we took last year and what we tolerated, and discouraged a repeat performance.

With accommodation out of the question, our next option is harassment. The main problem here is that once they’ve paired and selected a nesting area, they are notoriously hard to drive off. Up until they build a nest a lay eggs, active harassment of the pair is permitted. We are not allowed to physically harm the birds, but just about anything up to that is allowed.  There are many documented approaches to dealing with this, such as motion activated noisemakers, dogs, balloons, etc.

This is how we arrived at the termination option. All this harassment takes time and effort, and can be very hard on the geese and the people delivering it. And the experts tell us that it is often unsuccessful. So the state grants permits to have attack geese terminated. State certified personnel trap the animal, euthanize it, and either dress it and donate it to charitable organizations or incinerate it.

Status

Our pair built a nest just off our patio, thus the male had become very aggressive and was routinely attacking people. While we were trying to decide between further harassment or euthanization, someone (and we do not know who) destroyed their nest. The geese became calmer, and started looking for another spot to build a nest. We exploited this opportunity and turned up our harassment efforts (thus the balloons out front). The pair is spending a lot of time over in front of the adjacent building. Last evening the male actually flew into the side of my car when I drove by.  We’ll continue to actively harass them in the hopes of discouraging them from nesting here. But if they insist on nesting in a spot that results in any goose-human conflict (attacks), we’ll pursue euthanization.

Closing

I received a lot of interesting responses to my ealier message.

For those of you with strong feelings about protecting these animals, I strongly encourage you to do a little research before sending me any more emotional appeals. The DNR maintains a good site on human-goose conflict. One thing I learned there is what a great success story the geese represent. They’ve gone from 30 pairs in our state in 1956, to 85,000 birds living in our state today.

For those of you with strong feelings about NOT protecting these animals, please be careful how much detail you put in e-mail.

Finally, some of the replies were just funny, and I wanted to share the one that made me laugh hardest.

MY MESSAGE:

“The male is very aggressive, having attacked at least 3 people this morning. At about 20 pounds he is not much of a threat and can easily be pushed back with a briefcase, handbag or umbrella. But with the hissing and the flapping wings he can be quite intimidating, especially if you don’t see him coming.”

THE REPLY:

“Sounds like my boss.”

And the saga continues… while in the office this afternoon, i saw the nesting pair once again near our building. They seem to be happily settled in a grassy island in the middle of the parking lot. My guess is that we’re going to have to call in the militia…

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25 thoughts on “When Geese Go Bad…

  1. My company builds things that blow other things up. Let me know if I can be of assistance.

    If it’s any consolation, we had a similar situation but with alligators.

  2. DF,

    I’ll bet those are Canada geese aren’t they? They can be very aggressive and being on the receiving of a goose biting you whilst it beats you about the head with its wings can be somewhat disconcerting.

    I work at large manufacturing site that is dotted with surface impoundment ponds for everything from biox to cooling tower blowdown. I don’t know why the geese (and ducks) are attracted to these when there are plenty of other natural marshy areas around, but they are. We’re also inundated with jack rabbits too, but they’re much more polite than the geese are.

    It’s always funny to hear the diverse viewpoints from your workforce, isn’t it? It truly does “take all kinds”.

    🙂

  3. We used to keep geese. We had to leave a stick by the gate so the postman could defend himself when delivering mail.
    The first time the terrible Goddess was attacked by the gander, she grabbed hold of his neck, swung him round her head a couple of times and hurled him away. He never went near her again. I have always been treated the same way but never learnt my lesson …… ho hum.

  4. umdalum – ya build da ‘boom booms’? i’m surprised you had a gator problem…

    wanderer – always the creative problem solver! i like it…

    lksn – filed under “i could not make this up”… there were heated debates, alliances formed, etc. i was glad not to be at the helm – but rather sit back and throw out the smart assed comments…

    rob – why yes, they are Canada Geese. and they are lovely birds, til you skate across the walkway through their poo for the 8th time in the same week… as a kid, i remember it a rare treat to see one. now? not so much…

  5. DP – ‘mornin! didn’t see you there, trapped in moderation (“Moderation” and “DP”? right…)… I like the Terrible Goddess’ approach to males. Hmmm…

  6. Canada geese took up residence every spring in the pond by the mall where we used to live in the States. By the middle of June the water was green and stunk and the dock where the kids could walk out to look at the coy was covered in poop. Last year there was a rather large male who would fly at the dock and menace anyone there.

    Up here there is a national park with a lake for swimming that will give you a good case of summer itch from the geese poop that covers the bottom.

    Geese are disgusting.

  7. az – something to be said for that sort of logic! i can hit the goose in the parking lot with my car, claim ‘self defense’ and the issue is solved. with the boss? not a good plan…

    annie – they really don’t take the hints well that they should settle further away from those tall, noisy things called “people”… i’m not a fan. when riding my bike, there are certain stretches of path that are a veritable gauntlet of poo – i’ve learned to slalom to avoid a green racing stripe up the back of my jersey…

  8. My tender years were spent in a rural setting and as a young lad, I was frequently attacked by geese. I favour the “shoot first and ask questions later” approach to those hissing bastards.

  9. You know, they could try the Humane French Methode…overfeed them, then feast on their delicious livers. Now, where did I put those crackers….mmmmhhhhh.

  10. kyknoord – one of our more rustic folk actually sent my friend pictures of his two young boys holding up geese that had been freshly killed. Kindly offered to bring in “the boys, the guns and the dawgs” to assist if needed…

    dolceii – of course! chaining down their little goose ankles first! birdie bondage rocks. fully.

  11. I am vermin eradication officer in my building, and I get complaints about killing the mice. Stupid humans!

    By the way, Goose is excellent. Marinade the breast in Worcester Sauce, and grill it.

  12. toby – and let’s not forget to use the feathers for stuffing pillows! good to the last drop!

    uncle keith – “vermin eradication officer”? do you get extra pay for that or is it a labor of love? and who defines “vermin”?

    Bb – perhaps slightly less messy than the landmines you were considering to manage traffice in the workplace…

  13. dolceii – gives an entirely new meaning to the concept of pest control…

    uncle keith – Do you do children’s parties?

    dolceii – Wasn’t it the corporate types at Nike who came up with the ‘bring your child to work day’. oh, no… wait…

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