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A Wild Goose Chase: The Increasing Population of Canada Geese

The population of Canada Geese has been growing over many years, which has caused damage to local farms, country clubs and possibly environmental impacts

Aquidneck Island residents have been able to continue to enjoy outdoor activities such as walking trails and golf throughout the mild winter, but the one frustration that has outdoor enthusiasts talking is the large amount of goose droppings that are overwhelming the island. 

“The geese look nice, but they are more of a nuisance than anything,” said Adam Zaccara, a Newport resident who works in Middletown.  “They seem to stick to the shore-line, where you want to walk.”

When asked what he knows about the bird, he responded the knew they were a migratory bird.

Although this is a common belief, Fred MacDonald, a volunteer at the  refuge clarified that although they once migrated in the 1950s, the majority of the island's goose population are now year-round residents.  MacDonald said that due to global warming, there is now ample food available for the geese year-round, so there is no longer a need for them to migrate.

Another common mistake is that people call them "Canadian Geese," but the correct reference is "Canada Geese," he explained.   

“At the golf course it’s atrocious,” said Ken Lacey, owner of  on Aquidneck Ave.

MacDonald explained this is because the geese eat grass, so they are attracted to large fields.  He added that they congregate at country clubs in the late summer and early fall, when they molt, the process when birds shed their feathers. 

In addition to country clubs, they have done a lot of damage to the local winter wheat crops, he said.

Lacey said that at his waterfront restaurant, they have only seen two geese, but the amount of droppings is overwhelming.  

He is right to be concerned.  According to the U.S. Geological Survey, geese produce heavy concentrations of fecal droppings which can lead to excess nutrient enrichment of ponds and lakes.

“They taste good,” Lacey said with a laugh when asked what he knew about the bird.

MacDonald explained that was another misconception.  The French delicacy Foie Gras, or goose liver pate, is made by force feeding the bird through a funnel, to fatten the bird.  He added that although it’s a controversial practice, and illegal in the United States, he heard the bird appears to enjoy the process.

"If they only tasted better, we wouldn't have such an issue," MacDonald said with a shrug.  "Then they would be hunted. But nobody wants to hunt them."

MacDonald said there have been some state level pilot programs that train volunteers to oil the goose eggs, which prevent them from hatching.  If the eggs are removed from the nest, the mother will just lay more eggs, he said.  

He thinks the population will only continue to increase. Mating season will begin in late April, and each mother will lay four to eight eggs.  Although coyotes may prey on a few, the geese do not have a natural predator, said MacDonald.

Vero February 28, 2012 at 01:18 PM
He thinks "the bird enjoys the process"? What is this - the Dark Ages?
Sandra J. Flowers, PhD February 28, 2012 at 02:52 PM
Speaking of droppings, is there a plan to scrub the sidewalks near Touro Park? It looks as though crows, pigeons, or other flying critters are relieving themselves considerably on the brick walks... most unsightly and most likely unhealthy.
Chris Christensen February 28, 2012 at 04:39 PM
This could become as controversial as the coyote topic. I would submit that the Geese were here before we were. And Sandra...are you serious? Do you think the pidgeons and others will no longer take a dump if there are clean bricks below them? Geez! Call the Public Works and ask if there is a line item for that scrubbing. Chris the Bigfoot
Glen February 28, 2012 at 05:51 PM
Lacey and MacDonald have different opinions on the taste of this bird. Isn't it illegal to hunt the Canada Geese-good tasting or ? Also, they do have natural egg predators and the coyote is one of them.
Sandra J. Flowers, PhD February 28, 2012 at 06:22 PM
I am serious and I'm not the first to comment on the situation. Public Works doesn't have need a line item for that. Let's be creative and give this job as a "community service" to those who have run afoul of the law (pun accidental).
Ann (Annie) Ritterbusch February 28, 2012 at 07:54 PM
Dogs are often efficient in discouraging these feathered “waste producers”. A good company is www.vanishinggeese.com . The Canada Geese are certainly messy critters who have made Aquidneck Island their home...but they are not fond of dogs. Border collies chase but do not kill. The geese begin to understand where they are not welcome!
Robert E February 28, 2012 at 09:52 PM
Maybe Middletown should hire a hunter to rid us of this dangerous goose problem. seems to be Middletown's answer to any animal problem. How long before these wild geese start attacking our children and pets. We must wipe them all out now before it's too late.
East side February 29, 2012 at 12:40 AM
Leave the Canadians alone!!!
Tom February 29, 2012 at 01:50 AM
Just tax them and they'll leave like allot of residents and businesses have.
Richard Pearson March 03, 2012 at 09:53 PM
Canadian geese are very fine birds. They are even half domesticated and hang around car parks especially supermarket ones. They also hung around butlins holiday camp and grace the staff and campers with their presence and are scene hanging around outside the chalets. In England we have the royal society protection of birds (RSPB) and the royal society for the prevention of cruelty to animals (RSPCA) like us human beings animals, birds and other creatures have the right to be around. We are all Gods creation. Richard Pearson
Bill March 05, 2012 at 01:21 AM
No more England! I wish you weren't around mr. richard pearson

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