Public Health & Safety Concerns
Resident Canada goose populations have increased dramatically. Flocks of non-migrating Canada geese have become established in urban areas. Canada geese have responded to landscape features that provide expanses of short grass for food, lack of natural predators, absence of hunting, and hand feeding by some people.
Problems develop as local flocks grow and the droppings become excessive (geese produce 2-4 pounds of droppings per day). Problems include over-grazed lawns, accumulations of droppings and feathers on play areas and walkways, nutrient loading in ponds, public health concerns at beaches and drinking water supplies, aggressive behavior by nesting birds, and safety hazards near roads.
The following information was taken from an article titled “Avian Diseases: Carriage of Bacterial Pathogens by Canada Geese and Blackbirds” written by Dr. Larry Clark, Wildlife Services Research Biologist at National Wildlife Research Center:
Urban Landscapes – Fecal samples from Canada geese were collected throughout the year from a number of sites throughout the United States. This study characterized the prevalence of Escherichia coli serogroups (salmonella, listeria, and campylobacter) in Canada geese. The overall prevalence for E. coli ranged from 2 percent during the coldest time of year to 94 percent during the warmest months of the year. During March through July, when nonmigratory geese dominated the local goose population, the prevalence of enterotoxogenic (ETEC) form of E. coli was 13.0 percent. During the same period, the prevalence of enterohemorrhagic (EHEC) forms was 6.0 percent, while prevalences for enteroinvasive (EIEC) and enteroagglomerative (EAEC) forms were 4.6 and 1.3 percent, respectively. All samples positive for E. coli were examined for genes coding for virulence factors. Prevalence for salmonella was less than 1 percent, while prevalence for listeria in goose feces ranged from 8-12 percent. The prevalence for campylobacter ranged between 0-60 percent depending upon the sampling location. This data will prove useful in focusing attention on the risks that increasing populations of urban Canada geese may pose to public health.