Solution to disruptive Canada geese near Manitoba Legislature annoys Winnipeg park users

There’s a lot of noise around the Manitoba Legislature these days, and it’s not coming from politicians.

The province has installed a sound system to play loud birds of prey calls in an effort to ward off Canada geese at Memorial Park after they caused some stinky problems for the park’s fountain last year.

On an early June day, there were no geese to be found. But that may be because the fountain — the park’s main water source — isn’t operating right now.

In the meantime, the device, which was installed May 6, is disrupting people who are using the park as the weather warms.

“It’s really annoying…. It’s really loud,” Tracey Murdock said as she tried to enjoy the weather at lunch on Tuesday.

Katrine Zawislyk was startled by the sounds.

“I came outside to enjoy the fresh air and the sun, and that does nothing but give me a headache,” she said.

This device in Memorial Park plays loud birds of prey calls to ward off Canadian geese. The birds have caused quite a mess in the park’s fountain, prompting the province to take action. (Randall McKenzie/CBC)

The province said the device is being used to deter the birds because the droppings from “excessive numbers of Canada geese” congregating in the fountain last year created unusual mechanical issues, and it required more maintenance and cleaning than normal.

The spokesperson said the bird calls are keeping geese from staying in the area.

It’s not clear, though, if they are going elsewhere for the time being because the water source isn’t there.

Dr. Jim Shapiro, a senior scholar of psychology at the University of Manitoba who specializes in avian behaviour, said the bird alarm is an attempt to solve a problem that can’t be solved.

Geese ‘will simply adapt’

“The geese are not going to be frightened by a siren going off or any other scare device. They will simply adapt to it and pay to no attention to it, or if they do leave, another pair will simply take their place, build a nest or eat the food that’s available,” he said Monday.

The population of the species is increasingly rapidly, Shapiro said.

“As more and more geese come to Winnipeg, there’s less and less land for more and more geese, and what you see happening is geese taking up residence wherever they can find grass and some water, and that’s what’s happening at Memorial Park,” he said.

The only way to control the goose population in Winnipeg is by using addling as a wildlife management tool, he said. Trained people poke holes in goose eggs to destroy the embryos so the female goose continues to sit on the eggs and the male protects her, preventing other geese from entering the area.

“It will take many years, but it would be effective. You would reduce the number of geese coming back to Winnipeg because you’re having less and less goslings hatch,” Shapiro said.

The province said staff are waiting for consistently warm temperatures overnight before turning the water back on in the fountain.

Only time will tell if the deterrent works at keeping geese away once the fountain is running.

The province has no fixed end date for the device.

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