Are Canada Geese Protected? 5 Facts To Know

are canada geese protected

Many Have Questioned ‘Are Canada Geese protected?’

Short answer? Indeed, geese are a protected species in Canada. Canada geese are protected under Canada’s Migratory Birds Convention Act (MBCA).

The Canadian geese, along with several other migratory birds, are on the list of protected species in Canada. Although they are not an endangered species.

1. Canada Geese

With the scientific name Branta Canadensis, this Canada goose is often referred to as a Canadian goose.

The birds have a brown speckled body with a black neck and white along their cheeks and under the chin, and the geese are known for making loud noises.

Canada goose by Nennieinszweildrei, Pixabay
Canada Goose by Nennieinszweildrei, Pixabay

The Canada goose is a large bird species common in the southern prairies of Canada and the northern United States of America. Often found here in equally large numbers.

Geese tend to let out a honking-like sound. Also, the birds are known to be aggressively protective and have caused injuries in their quest to protect their eggs from predators.

Did you know?

A single Canada goose can have anywhere between 20,000 to 25,000 feathers. At the same time, they keep them in top condition through a process called molting.

Meanwhile, the Canada goose is divided into 7 subspecies:

  • Atlantic Canada Goose
  • Interior Canada Goose
  • Giant Canada Goose
  • Moffitt’s Canada Goose
  • Vancouver Canada Goose
  • Dusky Canada Goose
  • Lesser Canada Goose

Did you know?

Apparently, the Giant Canada geese were thought to be extinct until a small flock was found in Rochester, Minnesota in 1962.

Making differentiation between the different types of geese caused great confusion and conflict. The Lesser Canada Goose was believed to be a hybrid between the Canada Goose and the Cackling Goose. But the Hawaiian goose is also said to share the same ancestry as the Canada goose.

Canada geese range from 30-43 inches in length with a wing span of 50-73 inches. During late June and through July Canada geese lose their flight feathers to moulting.

They average as the largest of the ‘true geese‘, I.e. belonging to the Anser and Branta genera.

All seven species of the Canada geese vary in size with the Giant Canada Goose being the largest, weighing at about 8 kg and lesser Canada Goose being the smallest.

Did you know? An exceptionally large giant Canada goose was found to weigh 10.9 kg and had a wingspan of 7ft 4in. This was, certainly, the largest geese to ever be recorded in any present species of geese.

However, Canada geese do have natural predators such as wolves, foxes, coyotes, bears, eagles, ravens, gulls and wolverines.

1.1. Canada Geese Habitat

Are Canada geese protected in their habitat
Canada geese habitat By Pixel1, Pixabay

Previously Canada geese were native to North America but have since been distributed to several other places. The Great Lake region houses a large Canadian geese population.

The Canada geese are also present in large numbers on better US eastern seaboard and Pacific coast. Because this is part of their breeding ground.

Even in Canada, they were introduced to certain provinces like Quebec and Southern BC instead of being entirely indigenous like in southern Prairies and southern Ontario.

Canada geese were re-introduced in the UK where the species has made itself quite comfortable.

As a result, the bird spreads over half of the UK. The Canada geese can be found all year round.

1.2. Are Canadian Geese Protected as Migratory Birds?

Canada goose migrating by danhusseyphotos, Pixabay

Canada geese are migratory birds and move to the southern United States and Northern Mexico during the winter period.

Their choice of habitat includes wetlands, ponds, lakes, rivers, and coastal areas.

The flying geese are easily recognized by their large V-shaped flocks as the birds migrate south in fall/winter and north in the spring.

Although, there are some parts such as Southern BC where the climate is temperate enough that the Canada geese need not migrate. These gives referred to as resident geese.

Canada geese are usually found feeding on vegetation like grass, roots, leaves, seed, and grain but they are also seen to consume insects, mollusks, crustaceans and small fish. As such Canada geese feeding on can be classified as omnivorous.

Did you know?

Canada geese can travel over 1000 miles in a day when migrating.

1.3. Nesting and Breeding Habits of Canadiana Geese

Canada goose nest by Jack Bulmer, Pixabay

Canada geese mate for life. The birds start looking for mates between 2-3 years of age. When one of a pair dies the other finds another mate within the same breeding season makes their nests and start laying eggs.

If the birds destroy nests and eggs (by accident or if something else destroys the nests and eggs) Canada geese tend to nest in the same season again.

Canada geese flocks tend to break up in pairs for the nesting period which usually lasts from mid-March to late-April.

While the nesting site can vary it is usually around 150 feet of a water source.

Canada goose usually nests on islands, vegetation around shores, cattails or at the base of big and mature trees. Where they are adequately concealed.

In urban areas, they tend to nest in flower boxes, doorways or structures with rooftops. Preferring to have their nests on higher grounds with permits them better protection from predators.

The nests and eggs are guarded by both the male and female geese in equal measures. If the adult geese think that they are being threatened they will spread out their wings and hiss before attacking.

The female can be found laying eggs around every 36 hours (1.5 days). Once she is done laying eggs the incubation period starts., which is about 28 days.

The female Canada geese can lay up to 2-12 eggs, but the average clutch size is about 5 eggs.

All the eggs hatch at the same time and are led away by the adults within 24 hours of hatching. And the young geese are protected by the adult goose.

Did you know? Goslings (goose chicks) can learn to swim in a day. They sometimes form groups with other goslings. These groups are known as gang broods.

Canada’s goose population is quite large now. But in the early 1900s, their numbers plummeted due to habitat loss and hunting.

With the conservation efforts and regulations put in place, the Canada goose population has reached up to 5 million in northern states alone.

The global Canadian geese population is estimated to be over 7.1 million.

Goslings by ArtTower, Pixabay

2. Are Canada Geese Protected Against Hunting?

People used to hunt Canadian geese for sport. They are considered to be highly intelligent and hence, equally challenging.

They are also considered a delicacy. Some have even compared a geese breast to a good cut of beef.

As such Canada’s geese populations are hunted for their feathers and meat.

Though others find the birds to be tasteless. The unregulated hunting caused a steep decline in the Canadian goose population. Though they have since recovered a great deal.

Did you know?

Canada geese killed under a permit can be eaten but cannot be donated to another person.

HuntingSeasonn by JamesDeMers, Pixabay

3. Problems Caused by Canada Geese

Canada’s geese can also cause a lot of problems. Their presence at the airports is a safety hazard. As they may impend take off and hinder landings.

As such, the airport staff performs regular checks to reduce aircraft-related risks as much as possible.

Nesting Canada geese defend their nests fiercely and an overly aggressive pair can very well cause injuries to pets and children.

Large flocks of Canada geese often strip the areas of grass such as parks, pastures, golf courses, lawns and areas near ponds, lakes and other water bodies which leads to expensive landscape management for the owners of private property.

Many landowners have faced such problems and tried to employ various deterrent techniques to avoid the geese.

Excessive Canada goose droppings can be a valid concern in populated areas such as parks and golf courses, what with many people who are present in the said areas

This has led to making the parks and often beaches unfit for use. Some parks even have boards that prohibit the feeding of geese.

While a study has been conducted to determine the potential harm that goose droppings pose to human health there has not been any direct evidence to perform serious risk management.

The Canada geese diet can also lead to agriculture and resource damage as they consume grains and grass which causes harm to crops and pastures and may cause a degradation in the water quality as well.

The rapid increase in Canada’s geese population can also affect the already sensitive ecosystems and they may cause harm to other wildlife in their aggression.

In recent decades the Canadiana geese have overcome the population objectives. Which has made it necessary to kill Canadian geese to control the populations of geese.

4. Migratory Birds Convention Act

migratory birds by SD-Pictures, Pixabay

Are Canadian geese protected under any act or can they be hunted? This is a common question people have.

Often misunderstanding the birds to be an endangered species. Canada geese are protected but can be hunted mostly to control the now rapidly growing goose populations.

The Migratory Birds Convention Act emerged from an International treaty between Canada and the United States. The treaty is known as the Migratory Birds Convention, signed in 1916.

The Migratory Birds Convention provides protection and conserves the migratory bird populations and prohibits or permits the hunting of said birds under specified circumstances.

On the other hand, the act also acknowledges the damage caused by a goose and provides the means necessary to deal with the problem.

In such circumstances you can kill Canada geese but only as a last resort.

There are several migratory birds, along with the Canada geese that are considered to be ‘game birds‘ and are eligible to be hunted but only during certain specified times and in specified areas.

The Act tasks the Federal government with establishing the hunting seasons. And Canada geese are a popular game bird among migratory game bird hunters.

Hunting season has become a way to control the rapidly increasing Canadian geese population.

In Ohio, the Canada geese hunting season begins in November and lasts up to 2 months.

While in the southern region of Ontario, the Canada geese season is from September 1 to December 16.

Due to local laws, it is illegal to hunt outside of the designated areas. As it can lead to conflict with other wildlife as well as the residents living in the area.

As hunting is often done with a firearm, it is a very loud affair and causes problems in residential areas.

4.1. Are Canadian Geese Protected Under Permits

Geese Flock by Connor Kane, Pexels

Canadian Wildlife HealthCooperativee has set the regulations for hunting seasons of Canadiana geese.

The federal government allows for hunting under specified conditions.

If someone were to hunt Canada geese outside of the area where it may cause damage to private property or other wildlife one can contact the wildlife service with the information contact provides on the official wildlife service websites.

You are well within your right to complain against hunting taking place outside of the proper premise. The wildlife services will take the necessary precautions against such activities.

Though hunting during the hunting season or in hunting zones is not prohibited under the act.

Goose after all a popular game amount the migratory bird hunters and not an endangered species.

So you can hunt them as long as you abide by the local rules and regulations.

To hunt Canada geese one must possess a single permit: a valid Migratory Game Bird Hunting Permit and a Canadian Wildlife Habitat Conservation Stamp on the permit.

Though most provinces and territories have some other regulations and permits as well that protect wildlife.

Airport permits are also a thing under the Migratory Birds Convention Act to reduce aircraft-related risks.

A goose fly or run into the path as you are about to take off a plane is not something anyone would want to see.

The hunting permits allow one to get rid of errant Canadian geese from where that absolutely should not be, under the Migratory birds act.

4.2. Hunting Districts

Ontario hunting districts, Screenshot taken from official website

Different provinces have different amounts of hunting Zones for the goose season.

These may depend on the size of the areas. As bigger provinces would need to have more hunting areas.

While smaller ones can make do with a smaller number of hunting zones. Though it is not always necessarily the case.

Ontario permits a total of 4 geese hunting districts named Hudson-James Bay District, Northern District, Central District, and  Southern District.

Quebec allows for a total of 7 geese hunting districts named District A, District B, District C, District D, District E, District F and District G.

Alberta permits only 2 geese hunting districts named Zone No.1 and Zone No.2.

North Dakota allows for 3 geese hunting zones: the eastern zone, the  Western zone and the Missouri River zone.

British Columbia permits a total of 8 geese hunting zones that are numbered Provincial Management Units 1 through 8.

And so on

5. Benefits of Canada Geese

While the birds can be quite destructive they are also beneficial in some aspects. Which may make helpful to people and the environment as well.

They provide a recreational activity in the form of bird watching as well as sport hunting.

They contribute a lot to the economy in this way. So they can be considered economically beneficial to some extent.

They can be ecologically helpful by spreading seeds! They eat them in one place and then disperse them to some other areas.

Geese dropping, in small amounts can also help fertilize the land.

They are aesthetically pleasing. Seeing a flock of geese gently gliding upon a clear lake is a sight few would want to miss.

Add in a sunset or sunrise and you have yourself a very romantic setting.

Not to say that the positive aspects are overpowering the negative ones. But every coin has two sides and geese too can be both destructive and beneficial in many different ways.

To Conclude

Canadian geese are protected by the wildlife services which aims to protect all migratory birds.

The geese population has grown at a never-before-heard-of, exponential rate.

This growth is often attributed to human landscaping practices which have changed the surrounding for the better as far as the geese are concerned.

The birds nest, moult and raised their young often in heavily populated areas. The increasing rate of such disruption has caused a conflict between the people and the geese.

The Migratory Birds Convention Actrecognizess the damage wrought on by the birds and provides measures to manage the problem.

They provide tools such as permits that allows one to take necessary actions such as hunting the geese themselves.

The United States has declared the resident geese as ‘overabundant’. The status of geese in Canada is not threatened.

Hunting permits can be provided to people who wish to reduce the damages done by the large geese flocks.

All in alCanadianada geese are protected but also can be hunted with a valid permit. And only in the designated hunting zones.

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