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Parks and Open Space

What are the trends in goose populations?

Humans have had the largest impact on goose populations in North America. Once almost extinct, re-introduction programs have been a success story across North America. Prior to the 1960s, Canada Geese were entirely migratory and were not normally present in urban areas. Through re-introduction programs Canada Geese were restored to their traditional breeding grounds. They were also introduced into some areas where geese were not typically found before for the purposes of wildlife viewing and hunting.

The Migratory Birds Convention Act, established in 1912, afforded Canada geese protection from over-hunting. To this day, it prevents hunting, killing, capture, translocation, disturbing, selling, purchasing, or possessing Canada geese or their parts (feathers, nests, eggs, etc.), or destroying their eggs or nests except as permitted by regulations under the Act.

Their success after introduction and re-establishment can be partly attributed to the availability of suitable habitat and food in both rural and urban areas. Agriculture provides geese with a high-quality food source and bodies of water that are cut right up to the water's edge provide a safe spot for raising young. Greater urban and suburban development provides protection from both predators and hunting.

Geese habitat was also created in urban environments. An abundance of food in the form of mown lawns and fields, an absence of predators and access to human-made retention ponds are ideal habitat conditions for Canada geese.


Last update: March 5, 2020
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