Chicago Illinois Field Office
Resident Canada Geese
Depending on your perspective, the Chicago region is either fortunate or unfortunate to support a large resident population of giant Canada geese (Branta canadensis maxima).
Our urban-suburban environment provides ideal conditions for these large and adaptable birds. Within the six-county northeast Illinois area, Canada geese have benefited from a suite of factors common throughout our landscape. For example, our lawns provide high-protein forage, while agricultural areas just a short flight away provide grain-based forage. Our many ponds provide ample water supply, and suppressed predator populations and hunting activity allows for population growth.
For over 50 years, this population has grown from a few individuals and now numbers in the tens of thousands. Geese have increasingly come into contact with humans, and some conflicts "between species" have resulted creating a variety of challenges for local residents, businesses, and governments.
There are similar scenarios in other major urban areas in the United States, and because all native migratory waterfowl are trust resources of the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service, we have a lead role in determining how to face these challenges nationally. In 2002, the Service completed public review on a Draft Environmental Impact Statement: Resident Canada Goose Management. That document examines alternatives to dealing with localized populations of Canada geese, and proposed empowering individual states to have greater local authority in managing these birds. An additional public comment period was opened in 2003. The Service analyzed the nationwide public comments and prepared a Final Environmental Impact Statement: Resident Canada Goose Management.
Locally, we work closely with partner agencies, such as the Illinois Department of Natural Resources, to suggest ways that our constituents may deal with geese. If you have specific questions regarding resident Canada geese, please call the Chicago Illinois Field Office at 847/381-2253.
We also recommend that interested persons check other web resources regarding Canada geese. Since problems are widespread throughout much of the eastern United States, a number of organizations and agencies have posted information on their web sites. Here are just a few links:
Illinois Environmental Policy Review
Managing Canada Geese in Urban Environments: A Technical Guide (Berryman Institute) (pdf 1.32MB)
U.S. Department of Agriculture, Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) search for "Canada geese management" information