Geese invading grassy and populated areas are causing residents to ask both the Champaign and Urbana Park Districts to manage the geese population better.
However, some residents are trying to get rid of the geese humanely.
Geese have invaded neighborhoods, parks and green spaces over the years, resulting in complaints from citizens of excessive fecal matter and associated health concerns. Most recently, residents in the Robeson Meadows West area have contacted state officials about geese in their area.
The Urbana Park District has been attempting to control the Canada Geese population to a manageable level since 2012. The most recent event to control the population was in 2020, when it killed 175 geese, in what was called a harvest and a charity.
Animal activists groups called the action a “slaughter,” with some outraged by the district’s goal to kill 60 to 100 geese in Crystal Lake Park and donate the meat to local food banks. Defenders of the action said it allowed about 35 geese to be released back into their habitat.
The district had to apply for a permit from the Illinois Department of Natural Resources (IDNR), which allowed the goose meat from the harvest to be processed by the United States of Agriculture so that it can be donated to food banks in the community.
Ben Williams, Urban Waterfowl Project Manager at the the department, assists the public with nuisance migratory bird issues like, but not limited to, Canadian geese. Williams said the Champaign-Urbana area is a perfect habitat for geese who tend to settle in grassy/agricultural areas.
“C-U offers a refuge for Canada geese where they are safe and provided food and water, and we are seeing geese take full advantage of it,” he said. “Some geese will even brave lower temperatures and snow cover to remain in these areas year-round.
In Illinois, Canada geese, like all waterfowl, are protected by the federal Migratory Bird Treaty Act and the state Wildlife Code. It is illegal to kill or remove geese or to destroy, move or disturb their active nests, eggs or young without a permit from the Illinois Department of Natural Resources according to Wildlife Illinois, a government-sponsored website with “research-based information about how to coexist with Illinois’ wildlife.”
Friends of Geese, a Champaign-Urbana based animal rights organization, are leading other activists to protest for more humane ways of removing the geese. Through its Facebook community, it posts articles and references on how to deal with geese and why their species shouldn’t be killed off from the area. The Friends of Geese organization not only protects geese, but also other birds that inhabit the Champaign-Urbana area and outside of it.
Williams offers solutions for handling geese for citizens of the area if they are being a nuisance instead of killing them.
“To discourage adult geese, one thing people could try is some sort of harassment. This could include using dogs, shouting, etc.” Williams said, reiterating, though, that it is not legal to physically harm the geese. He also suggests these management tips might not be as helpful after spring as there are usually active nests or with goslings, or young geese, and they are not allowed to be harassed.
Another tactic for lowering the geese population is to remove or destroy the eggs; however, a permit must be obtained from the IDNR for this activity.
Friends of Geese use a Facebook group titled, “Urbana Friends of Geese,” where anyone with a Facebook account can join and see their posts. One of the biggest issues facing Canadian geese is the waterfowl hunting season, which started in the beginning of November.
According to the Hunt Illinois Waterfowl Specific Regulations, the daily limit of geese kills is three. The Friends of Urbana are claiming that hunters are killing six times over their limit in the Champaign-Urbana area. The organization offers alternatives and articles for homeowners on how to deal with geese humanely instead of hunting or killing the geese in their area.
Citizens continue to try and find different ways to deal with geese as there is no one solution. To avoid further conflict with geese and more information on Illinois wildlife, brochures are available at https://www.wildlifeillinois.org/ along with resources to a Wildlife Control Operator.