The Canada goose problem has gotten out of hand at Brooks the last few years. Their numbers seemed to be staying the same however their damage from foraging was pushing threshold levels. Dealing with goose poop is one thing but when damage from digging creates golf ball size holes in your greens, action needs to be taken! I wrote back in June about the Iowa DNR coming to Brooks to tag our local Canada goose population. They managed to tag around 70 with pretty high odds another 30+ snuck away when they saw them coming! Although I feel we have nearly the same number of geese from year to year it seems there behavior and lack of fear has been the biggest change. I was optimistic this spring after repeated snowfalls in April that our local hatch would be reduced but somehow they managed to lay eggs 3 different times!
We have tried a number of control options over the years with little success:
- Coyote decoys both 2 D and 3 D became their friends and scared more golfers than geese
- Alligator heads floating in ponds confused more golfers than geese, we must have smart geese that realize alligators don’t live up north!
- Bottle rockets and firecrackers move them from one place to another but are a nuisance to neighbors and golfers
- Plastic pellet guns would get them to run but couldn’t tell if it was from my vehicle getting close enough to shoot or the plastic pellets
- Goose sprays actually did work but were cost prohibitive
One proven method that did work with reducing our goose population brings us all the way back to my first year at Brooks over 15 years ago. The geese were awful and a nuisance. I began researching border collies and was a much younger, single guy. That October I went to River Falls, Wisconsin to pick up a pup. Poa was his name and he actually made a Reporter cover years ago. He was a great dog and very intelligent. His breed has a natural herding instinct so really didn’t have to teach him how to chase and herd but rather typical commands to come, sit, etc. He went to work with me every day and rode around with me on the course. If we found geese on the wetland he would head in for a swim. I used to have golfers come up to me worried about Poa drowning because he would stay in the water for over an hour at a time. Funny thing is when he was tired he would come find me. When the geese grew big enough to fly they were so sick of being chased they left. It worked and we had a loyal golf course dog that the golfers loved. One unfortunate morning when I was in the clubhouse for a meeting Poa was sitting on my passenger seat waiting for my return when one of my employees drove by that he thought was more interesting than waiting for me to return. It was a wet morning with a heavy due and Poa had been running in front of the guys when he slipped, was hit, paralyzed and had to be put down. Sad days, yes, but life goes on. Without fear the geese think the golf course is their daily buffet and golfers are the nuisance. The next twelve years were filled with marriage and raising two amazing boys. My oldest had been asking me for a dog for 4 years and the timing seemed right so we began the search this summer. We eventually adopted “Puck” , a 9 month old Border Collie/Australian Shepherd cross in early September from our local Humane Society and the new adventure began. Those geese better look out in 2014!