Keep Your Cool During Canada Goose Migration

By Pam Bolton, Wildlife Center of Missouri &

Nancy Schnell, GeesePeace St. Louis



If you spend time outdoors this time of year, you will certainly hear the honking of the Canada geese as they fly overhead in a perfect “V” formation.   What a beautiful sight!  A survey conducted by the Missouri Department of Conservation revealed that most Missourians enjoy seeing native wild Canada geese.


The term “Canada” goose confuses many people. While there are many smaller subspecies that are born in Canada and migrate to Missouri during winter, the largest race, called the giant Canada goose, Branta canadenis maxima, are native to Missouri and the Midwest. The early explorers, Lewis and Clark, reported their presence in Missouri.


For eons, giant Canada geese lived along the wetlands of our state rivers. Sixty years ago the giant Canada goose was almost extinct in Missouri due to overhunting and destruction of our state wetlands.  In 1949 the Missouri Department of Conservation and private citizens began the restoration of the Canada goose in Missouri.  The restoration was a success.


The recent population growth of the Canada Goose in urban areas was unanticipated. As humans destroyed the wetlands along the rivers, expanding urban areas provided a plentiful food source, i.e., cut grass, water in man make lakes, and an absence of natural predators including: foxes, raccoons, owls, coyotes, and snapping turtles.


During the winter, thousands of migratory geese visit St. Louis to avoid severe northern weather conditions. Our local goose population doubles or triples during the winter months.  Migratory geese leave Missouri as spring approaches.


Frequently, geese are brought to the Wildlife Center who are seriously injured by discarded fishing line and hooks. Feet, legs and wings become entangled with line which leads to infections, amputation of legs and suffering. If you fish, please pick up ALL fishing line and hooks.


GeesePeace St. Louis discourages people from feeding geese as this encourages the geese to gather in large numbers.  People often complain about goose droppings on sidewalks, parks and playing fields and therefore, geese are not always welcome in public areas.


GeesePeace St. Louis holds free classes to educate and assist with humane and effective management tools to prevent, reduce or eliminate conflicts with urban Canada geese.  GeesePeace works in cooperation with the Wildlife Center of Missouri, Missouri Department of Conservation, the Humane Society of Missouri and the Metropolitan Sewer District.

For more information about GeesePeace or to register on-line for a free class (4 classes to choose from during the month of February) visit www.geesepeacestlouis.org


Join the Wildlife Center of Missouri for “Go Wild At Mardi Gras” Trivia Night on February 13, 2010 at Congregation Shaare Emeth.  To register for Trivia Night or for more information, call 314-636-1880 or visit www.mowildlife.org