Fierce Geese Couple Nesting at Daemen

By Sara Siegmann, contributing writer

Two fierce geese nest on campus every spring, and Daemen members have to worry about being attacked.

“With the new season, we see some yearly visitors on our campus. Each year we have a Canadian Geese couple who have made their nest on the roof by the Eco Trail,” Robert Mead-Colegrove, assistant dean for campus safety and operations said in an email to campus. 

The warning sign put up once the geese return to their nest in the spring. Photo by Sara Siegmann.

A Canadian geese couple established their nest on top of a shed on Daemen University’s Eco Trail every year, which is located along a pathway leading to the rear parking lots on campus. 

Students are frequently bothered while passing by on the trail.

“Every time I try to mosey my way onto campus, the geese stare and hiss with the look of evil in their eyes,” Christopher Honrado, a first-year pre-vet major said.

Geese are territorial and eager to protect their young. The geese are fierce and will hiss, puff their wings, or even attack those crossing their path. 

A solution when first addressing the issues with the geese may be to relocate them. However, due to the Migratory Bird Treaty Act of 1918, this cannot be done. According to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, “The Migratory Bird Treaty Act (MBTA) prohibits the take (including killing, capturing, selling, trading, and transport) of protected migratory bird species without prior authorization by the Department of Interior U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.”

According to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Canadian geese were on the brink of extinction in the U.S. in the 1970s. However, a few populations were spotted in California, Alaska, and in the Northwest. These geese families were able to reproduce, and the MBTA was established to allow their population to continue to increase.

Now, the geese population in the United States is roughly 5 million, and bothersome to many. A simple solution for Daemen could be relocating them, however, it is a violation of federal law if you do not have a permit. 

Shannon Wilkinson, a first-year cytotechnology major, had an interesting interaction with the geese as she was trying to walk to her car. 

“Typically when I walk past the geese, I try to make noise, like jingling my keys, so the geese don’t see me as a threat. This day I forgot to, and it did not end well, to say the least,” Wilkinson said.

 “I was checking my phone and not paying attention to my surroundings until I heard hissing and looked up. The male goose is angry and hissing at me. The next thing I know, I feel a slap on my backpack. The female goose jumped down from her nest on top of me. I felt the wings and the feathers hit my face. I just screamed and ran to my car to escape them,” Wilkinson said.

Chloe Lew and Alexander Zveryev, both first-year physician assistant majors, have also experienced conflicts with the geese.

“We were walking to our cars, and the two geese started chasing us. Luckily enough, we were able to run faster,” Lew said. 

Not only are the geese a threat to patrons walking by, but they are also present for a long time.

According to the Indiana Department of Natural Resources, Canadian geese lay their eggs in mid-March to early April, and are incubated for 25-30 days. After the eggs are hatched, the parents are present for approximately 10-12 weeks until the goslings can fly.  

The geese couple with their newly hatched goslings on April 20, walking across campus from the Eco Trail towards Campus Drive. Photo by Cadence Russell.

Daemen has established signs on the Eco Trail where the geese are located to warn patrons walking by. A common solution for the geese is to establish fencing or some kind of barrier. However, because they are located on a university campus near a pathway, it is not a practical solution. 

Another solution to consider is goose repellent. Goose repellent is a liquid made of chemicals the geese do not like the taste of. It is safe and does not hurt them, it just encourages them to find another area for food. However, it is unclear if this would work because they could easily move to another area on campus where there is no repellent. Dogs or coyotes are often a solution for those living in the country, but this is not a practical solution for the college campus. 

The most effective solution for the geese would be to get a permit and relocate them, but it is unclear if this timely process would be worth it since there is only one goose couple. 

Dr. Brenda Young, professor of biology, agrees relocation would be an impractical solution. 

“We are talking about a pair, so it is probably, in my opinion, not worth it,” Young said. 

The shed where the geese nest was part of the Ecotrail project in 2006. Young participated in this project along with other faculty and more than 90 students.

Young said last year Daemen wanted to move the shed so the geese were out of the way where students often walk. 

“The facilities wanted me to move the shed, but I know if we try to move the shed it will fall apart,” Young said.

Young offered other solutions to the hostile geese, such as fiberglass coyote statues to scare them off.

“There is a convention center in Erie, Pennsylvania, that has fiberglass coyotes. However, there is goose poop all over them,” Young said.

Fiberglass coyotes may seem like a good idea, but eventually, the geese will realize they are not real and return to the area. 

Young said the only concern of the geese is their aggressive behavior and stepping in their droppings. They are not imposing any ecological harm to the area. 

Because relocation is unlikely, students are putting matters into their own hands and adjusting their routines to avoid the geese.

“I have been waking up an hour earlier to get a good parking spot in the morning away from the geese nest. If I cannot get a spot early enough I will park far away and take the long route to campus,” Wilkinson said.

Wilkinson said she is not risking another goose attack and will avoid them at all costs. 

Although geese are pests to many, they play an important role in their habitats and ecological functions.

According to the National Library of Medicine, geese consume toxic and nontoxic weeds, grasses, and other plants. This helps to control the growth of such plants. Geese also consume mosquitoes, which aids in controlling the mosquito population as well. Geese play a crucial role in seed dispersal. After geese consume plants with seeds such as berries, they excrete the seed which is then dispersed to grow a new plant. 

Although geese are beneficial to the environment, it can be hard for Daemen members to move past that, as they are very inconvenient. 

“They are not that big of a deal, but it is annoying that I have to take the long way to campus or worry about getting attacked,” Wilkinson said.

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