Ever Wonder how We Handle the Geese in Downtown Akron? Here's Your Answer

04/27/22

Category: Downtown Akron Blog

 

Have you ever entered a park or trail completely dominated by Canada Geese (maybe even a park or trail in–gasp!–downtown Akron)? Have you ever wondered how these unruly, wild birds are handled? Well, Ohio Geese Control (OGC)–an organization created to ensure a “healthier and happier environment by humanely managing migratory bird populations”–has some answers for you! 

Above: Ohio Geese Control patrolling the canal in downtown Akron (Photo: Payton Burkhammer)

One way OGC manages the Canada Geese in Ohio is with the help of trained Border Collies. Where do these dogs come from? Stazie Hyslop, regional account manager at OGC, tells us rescue centers are their first port of call when looking for new dogs to be part of their management program. The dogs are trained onsite with handlers certified by the Ohio Department of Natural Resources (ODNR), in the safe and humane harassment of Canada Geese. The strategies used are also approved by PETA and the Humane Society. 

When the dogs are not on the job, they go home with their handlers, where they’re part of the family and socialize with other people and pets. “All our dogs live with the handlers in various locations across Northeast and Central Ohio and have a strong bond both in and out of the working environment,” says Hyslop.   

Above: Ohio Geese Control (Photo: Payton Burkhammer)

Border Collies are a herding breed, so their instinct is not to harm the geese, but to herd them. When the collies first approach the geese, they begin harassing them with a predatory stare called “the eye.” This tactic is usually enough to scare the geese away, and there’s always space between the two species to make sure neither of them is harmed.   

Other geese-deterrent tactics that can be used in combination with the Border Collies include habitat modification, which consists of reducing grassy areas, islands, and nesting structures; and egg depredation, which is the process of plundering eggs to impair population growth.

Above: Ohio Geese Control (Photo: Payton Burkhammer)

Canada Geese are known to be particularly hostile during nesting and gosling season. Not only are they aggressive and noisy, though, but their droppings can be dangerous for Akron’s waterways. “The droppings are known to carry diseases such as Salmonella, E-Coli, and Listeria, and heavy concentrations of goose droppings can also contain nitrogen, which can pollute ponds and lakes, leading to excessive algae growth and reduced water quality,” says Hyslop.  

OGC looks at its services as a maintenance program. If the geese believe the threat of the collies has been removed, they will likely return to the area where they were harassed. For this reason, OGC’s services must be regularly used to ensure the continued dispersion of the geese. OGC will continue to maintain the goose population in Akron and keep our sidewalks and waterways clean.