Damage caused by Canada geese often is very apparent. Look for over-grazed lawns and accumulations of droppings and feathers on walkways. High numbers of geese can be seen, honking often can be heard, and droppings rapidly accumulate. Even if the birds are not actively foraging at a particular time of the day, droppings are signs of geese in the area.
Damage to Structures
Canada geese generally do not damage structures.
Damage to Livestock and Pets
Canada geese may attack animals that approach a nest or young.
Damage to Landscapes
Canada geese are particularly attracted to lawns and ponds located near apartment complexes, houses, office areas, and golf courses. The birds can rapidly denude lawns, turning them into barren areas of dirt. Canada geese eat crops such as corn, soybeans, wheat, rice, alfalfa, and grasses grown for lawns and golf courses. In some areas, crops that are sprouting can be severely damaged by grazing. Muddy fields can be compacted by trampling, which may result in reduced yields.
Health and Safety Concerns
Canada geese may charge or attack people and pets if nests are approached. They may inflict a painful bite or strike with the edge of a wing. People may be injured after slipping on goose droppings.
Geese may create hazards on roads and traffic accidents in urban areas. When in the vicinity of airports, they are a significant threat to public health and safety. Thousands of cases have occurred in which Canada geese have been hit by military and commercial aircraft on takeoff, in the air, or upon landing. The most significant military aircraft disaster caused by birds occurred at Elmendorf Air Force Base on September 22, 1995, when an aircraft struck several Canada geese on take-off and crashed, killing 24 people. Also of note was U.S. Airways Flight 1549 that was forced to land in the Hudson River after colliding with a flock of geese.
The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) Wildlife Strike Database reports 627 collisions between Canada geese and aircraft from 2012 to 2021 (average of 62.7 per year). This is similar to 1,238 reported strikes in the 20-year period from 2002 to 2021 (average of 61.9 per year). According to the FAA, “Mourning doves are the most common species of bird struck by civil aircraft in USA, accounting for 11% of the birds identified to exact species, 1990–2019. Waterfowl (ducks and geese) account for only 5% of the strikes but are responsible for 28% of the strikes that cause damage to the aircraft.”
Canada geese contaminate turfgrasses with their feces, which can become a public health hazard in parks, ball diamonds, golf courses, and residential areas. People should wash their hands before eating and change shoes before entering their homes or vehicles. Droppings from Canada geese may contain cryptosporidium, Giardia, toxoplasmosis, campylobacter, chlamydiosis, E. coli, listeria, Pasteurella multocida, salmonella, avian influenza, and encephalitic viruses. Although droppings of geese may carry several diseases, few cases of human illnesses have been attributed to feces.