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Canada Geese - Hard to Scare?

When it comes to pest control, geese are some of the toughest birds you'll ever come across.

Often seen in parks or riverside, they can be quite an intimidating nuisance when trying to keep them away from areas they are not welcome. To some degree, these birds can even figure out that you're trying different scare tactics and become somewhat immune to them after repeated attempts.

And worst of all: a recent study suggests that some scare tactics may even be counterproductive. According to a recent University of Illinois study published in Science Daily, Canada geese were twice as fast to return to a park after being chased out than on days when they were free to enter and leave the park as desired.

Researchers in the Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Sciences worked with personnel from USDA-Wildlife Services to deter geese from Chicago's Marquette Park, located near Midway Airport - a terrible spot for geese, considering their knack for airplane collisions. The team attached GPS trackers to the birds, and during the winters of this study, they scared birds off by approaching them while clacking boards together.

Over the course of this study, the research team found that birds who were harassed into leaving either retreated into another area of the park or returned within the hour. The study suggested that geese are smart (and stubborn) enough to recognize when a threat is non-lethal, and have adapted well enough to urban environments that they don't feel uncomfortable in man-made places where they don't belong.

Scare tactics are a deterrence method, which discourages birds from staying in an area through fear or discomfort but does not fully physically bar them from entry. The only true exclusion methods that completely block off birds are bird netting and the patented AviAngle, which both prevent birds from accessing a protected area. These methods have their place in certain parts of the airport, like hangars and parking garages, but both would be difficult to employ in a wide-open space like a park.

So, it is natural that the researchers chose a scare tactic. What could they have done differently to more effectively to ward off geese? When assessing any bird problem, the first thing to do is determine what resources draw them to an area. As this is a park, water and grass still need to be accessible for human visitors. Since those resources cannot be eliminated, the University of Illinois team could have employed multiple deterrence methods in conjunction with one another, as this works better than employing any single deterrence method alone.

This is a challenging problem to tackle, as we are dealing with open spaces, difficult birds, and close proximity to an airport. Had AviAway been called to tackle the issue, our team would have assessed the site, installed bird deterrents and implemented practices as we saw fit, and continued monitoring the area to determine our success. Which of our solutions do YOU think would work best here?


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