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Interactions with Geese: A Guide

Photo credit: Shaun Fisher

A couple of weeks ago, I received an email regarding the state of geese at Rutgers. The email, written in a way that strays greatly from traditional English grammar, informed Busch Campus residents that “Due to the recent increase of Geese populations in and around the exterior of the Nichols and Richardson residences. We have contracted with a Geese control company. This company (“Geese Rangers”) will visit the residences twice a day and utilize Border Collies (dogs) to chase away any geese.” This email brought me great joy and sadness at the same time. I was excited to meet the Geese Rangers and see the Border Collies (dogs) at work, but I also enjoy the ever-present company of the gaggle of geese outside of my apartment. Anytime I leave or return to my apartment, they are there, religiously occupying their posts. I often acknowledge them with a nod or a brief “good morning” and they usually offer a honk or two in return. On some days, I bring them the end pieces of a loaf of bread.

After talking to my roommates about the email we all received, I was shocked to learn that not only did they not appreciate the presence of the gaggle, they were intimidated and annoyed by the geese. I have since heard about, and observed, various interactions with students and the campus geese and would like to share my advice to ensure that all future geese encounters are pleasant for both parties.  

How to Coexist with Your Local Canadian Geese:

  • Respect the geese’s space
    • Do not crowd them
    • Do not run towards them
    • Discourage young children from trying to play with them
  • Greet the geese
    • A simple nod or noncommittal “hello” will do
    • The geese only want, as all living creatures must, to feel acknowledged
  • Respect the geese in general
    • Do not attempt to touch, poke, or pet them
    • They are not wrong for reacting aggressively when you threaten them
    • Do not gas the geese

Although Canadian geese are at time temperamental, if you follow these simple rules, you can be reasonably sure that your future geese interactions will be pleasant. Geese have as much of a right to be here as we do. Their presence is not the problem, our methods of interacting with them are. As a final critique on the chosen method of dealing with geese populations at Rutgers, I would like to state that I rarely see my geese friends anymore, and I have also not seen any Border Collies (dogs). At the very least, this institution owes me one or the other.

Sophomore Linguistics major at Rutgers University. Probably currently eating oatmeal.
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