What’s the Deal with Canada Geese in Calgary’s Parks?

Calgarians, especially pathway-users and festival-goers, enjoy a delicate coexistence with the graceful (but sometimes hostile) Branta canadensis. Here are four things you may not know about these iconic avians. 1. Why am I not seeing V-shaped flocks in the sky? By mid-June, most Canada Geese are moulting, a once-a-year process…

Calgarians, especially pathway-users and festival-goers, enjoy a delicate coexistence with the graceful (but sometimes hostile) Branta canadensis. Here are four things you may not know about these iconic avians.

1. Why am I not seeing V-shaped flocks in the sky?

By mid-June, most Canada Geese are moulting, a once-a-year process in which they shed and regrow their flight feathers. This means they’re flightless at the moment, and will be until sometime after Stampede.

2. Why do geese sometimes attack people?

According to the Canadian Wildlife Service, humans and geese both adore grassy spaces near water. Whereas humans see a lovely picnic spot or a golf course, geese see an ideal place to release their bowels and raise five or six kids. When both human and goose populations are high, conflict is likely.

James Borrows, Integrated Pest Management Lead for the City of Calgary, says goose-human relations have been an issue in the city for more than a decade.

“It goes back to the mid- to late-90s, where there were numerous negative interactions between pathway users and the resident goose population,” says Borrows. “In some areas you couldn’t even walk on the grass because of the goose droppings. There was a lot of push from the community that something be done.”

3. They shoot Canada Geese, don’t they?

Not in Calgary, they don’t. Environment Canada issues permits for a range of management methods, including euthanasia. The City of Calgary uses a permitted contractor to deal with our geese in accordance with Environment Canada best practices, but primarily by sterilizing eggs and relocating birds rather than destroying them.

4. Can I share my sandwich with a goose?

Nope. Don’t feed the wildlife, especially not with processed human-food. As Borrows says, “Feeding them bread is a terrible thing. It habituates the birds to people and provides a food source that is totally unnatural.”

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