It’s a rite of spring that countless urban Canadians are probably equal parts familiar and exasperated with: the return of the Canada goose, that wildlife icon that dawdles across bike paths, stakes claim to city parks, colonizes golf courses, sometimes attacks passersby and poops pretty much wherever it pleases.
So what to do with what many city dwellers consider a feathered nuisance? Some Canadians are looking south, spending $5,000 on an American-made simulated predator known as the Goosinator, a bright orange contraption with painted features meant to mimic those of coyotes and bobcats, right down to the sharp teeth and large eyes.
Randy Claussen, the Goosinator’s inventor, says he’s sold four of the faux predators to Canadians in 2017 (he estimates he sold half a dozen in 2016), all of whom were willing to pay big bucks for a humane and legal means of managing their geese problem.
Canada geese are federally protected in Canada and the United States, so there are limitations on how they can be dealt with. Both governments allow the hazing of geese, a practice that involves scaring the birds into leaving an area.
The Goosinator is used to herd the geese and then scare them as a group, making them think that they’re in danger and therefore less likely to return to a specific location. “They see it as a predator rather than a nuisance,” said Claussen from his Denver, Colo., home, where he invented the Goosinator after his brother-in-law complained about the golf course where he worked being overrun by geese.
Claussen found that the common tactics for hazing geese — using rubber coyotes, say, or sprinkling grape seed extract on the grass to make it unpalatable — weren’t effective for long. He even tried using a hawk-shaped drone to scare them off but it wasn’t successful. “Everything that man comes up with, it doesn’t take long for them to realize it’s just a manmade nuisance,” said Claussen.
A common hazing tactic is to use dogs to chase the geese. But as Claussen points out, the geese often flee to the water, where the dogs won’t go, or if they do, they are significantly less threatening to geese. The Goosinator, however, can travel on land (including sand and snow) and water. “Once you take away the safety of the water, you have lasting results,” said Claussen.
Durham College in Oshawa, Ont., decided to test those results and purchased a Goosinator two years ago. “We were having a problem with the amount of geese on campus,” said Suzanne Chasse, manager of facility services at the college. “They’re quite dangerous and they’re very, very aggressive. They were attacking students.”
The college was also struggling with the geese nesting in locations unsafe for their goslings. “We needed a humane way to encourage them to nest elsewhere,” said Chasse.
The college had nearly 100 geese on the campus before using the Goosinator in addition to dogs. They now have just a few remaining on the campus.
Claussen notes that other Canadian buyers seem pleased with the Goosinator’s performance. “One customer,” he says, “sounded extremely relieved that he could finally win his personal war with the geese in a nice fashion.”