A picture of Canada geese playing the a puddle of melting snow.
A picture of Canada geese playing the a puddle of melting snow.

Canada Goose

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The Canada goose is an ubiquitous waterfowl. In Toronto they tend to get underfoot wherever one goes, and they can become rather annoying.

Canada goose in the middle of the road.

Canada goose in the middle of the road.

While we should strive for finding a balance between civilization and living in peace with the local wildlife, perhaps the human effort to accommodate sharing habitat with Canada geese has gone a bit overboard. Canada geese are literally everywhere and they seem to be very well aware of their rights. They will not move even if you try to shoo them away. Flocks of Canada geese leave their droppings all over the place and make a huge mess.

A picture of Canada geese.

Wild Canada geese (Branta canadensis) inside the Toronto Zoo.

Yet the way humans interact with them is rather ridiculous. North Americans do tend to have an unusually high tolerance of indigenous pests (AKA local wildlife) wrecking havoc, and go into extraordinary trouble to try to spare the life of some rabid raccoon that is trying to dismantle a house, or to find excuses for a coyote that is killing the dogs in the neighbourhood — and that is just downtown Toronto.

Canada geese appear to be “the holy cows of Canada“. They can literally stop traffic by walking in the middle of the road and refusing to get out of the way of cars stopped and honking behind them. Occasionally they cause a traffic accident — I once had a coworker whose car had been wrecked because someone drove right into the parked car while trying to avoid some Canada geese on the road.

I don’t even understand how Canada geese as a species managed to exist so long, and multiply so successfully without any instinct to flee from bigger, stronger, and dangerous looking creatures such as humans. If they never flee, how did they manage to avoid being hunted to extinction?

I really don’t know what could be done to make these annoying creatures respect (or at the very least fear) humans, or teach them to get out of the way of cars. Perhaps one day people will discover that Canada geese are made of meat…

It might not help with the annoyances inside the city but it does appear to be legal to hunt Canada geese in Ontario.

Canada geese browsing in the grass in May.

Canada geese browsing in the grass in May.

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Last updated: July 3, 2014

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