Feeding the geese with your grandparents can be a cherished memory for a lifetime. The most evocative of these remembrances is the grace with which these beautiful birds glide through the water, stretching their slender necks to snatch up the breadcrumbs floating on the sparkling water. But do you know how to keep geese off your dock?
Geese waddle slightly less gracefully out of the water than Quasimodo, and while on land, display some of their worst characteristics. They can be noisy and aggressive, chasing and biting children and adults too. But worst of all is the reason you’re here… poop on your dock.
Thankfully there are several simple solutions to choose from that will help solve the problem of geese on your dock.
Top Goose Deterrents
Geese have a number of natural predators, and swans also provide fierce competition with geese for breeding and feeding grounds. Strategically placing decoys in the area and on the water around your dock can deter geese from the area entirely.
Author Note: Be aware that different types of decoy will have different effects on different creatures. If you are overzealous in your purchases of decoys, you may frighten away all wildlife from your garden!
If you like having geese around but just don’t want them on your dock, here are a few other simple solutions.
Don’t Drink the Kool-Aid!
Rather than drinking it, believe it or not, you can use Kool-Aid as a goose deterrent, but only the grape variety. The chemical that gives Kool-Aid and other sweets and gums the grapey flavor is called methyl anthranilate. This chemical smell is repellent to Geese, acting as a mild eye and throat irritant.
To us and other creatures, it just smells like grapes. Hence it is used to enhance many grape-flavored products, which include popsicles and grape variety Kool-Aid.
Grape flavor Kool-Aid shows some effect as a repellent and can be sprayed around the dock’s edge, and it is even safe for the plants to apply it on the grass at the water’s edge. Its effects are not very long-lasting, though, as dew and rain will dilute the juice, quickly reducing the effectiveness.
Methyl anthranilate is also the active ingredient in most off-the-shelf goose deterrent products. These products contain a higher concentration of the chemical and use a sticky, oil-based fluid suspension to increase longevity, reducing the impact of rain and dew on its effectiveness.
Some predators attack geese from the air. As such, they cannot relax if they have flags over their heads. This may be because these provide obstructions to a goose who is watching the sky for a predator. More likely, though, the movement above their heads catches their watchful eye too often for them to be able to eat or rest comfortably. Whatever the reason, they seem to dislike being in the moving shadows.
To take advantage of this, you can install a few DIY flagpoles to the pilings of your dock. You can quickly obtain ¾ inch or 1-inch diameter plastic electrical conduit from home depot to use as a flagpole. Fittings to attach the conduit to your dock’s pilings will also be readily available.
This flagpole will work well, as long as the wind isn’t too strong and the material for your flag isn’t too heavy. If you live in a particularly windy area, you could use ribbons instead of flags. Hang the longest from the top of the pile and reduce the length as you get lower, so they don’t become a nuisance when you’re on the dock.
Dori poles and pennants work perfectly, but the DIY solution can be a fun activity to keep the family entertained for a while. One parent with the older kids cutting and gluing the conduit, while the other works with the youngsters to decorate and sew the flags.
A helium balloon can also be used in the same way as a flag, but it will lose buoyancy over time. However, balloons may prove more effective in the rain than a damp flag. If you have a bird feeder close by, though, balloons and flags may impact the number of visitors it draws.
Author Note: Another simple solution is to block the geese from getting onto the dock from the water. A straightforward fence, approx 18″ high, will prevent the geese from accessing the dock from the water’s surface.
Dowels, reflective tape, screws, and staples are all you need for this simple project, and all should be readily available from Home Depot. If your dock pilings rise 18 inches or more above the dock floor, you can even do without the dowels and screws; just staple the tape directly to the pilings.
As the fence simply deters the geese, rather than physically stopping them, ½ inch dowels should prove strong enough for the little fence poles, and the strength of the reflective tape shouldn’t be an issue.
Reflective tape comes in a number of widths, so you could use a single wider strand or some thinner ones, depending on your taste.
Drill pilot holes through the dowels and into the dock pilings. Screw the dowels into place and then staple the reflective tape to the dowels. If you can staple the tape in a single strand, that is ideal. When the geese migrate, you can simply unscrew the dowels, one at a time from the end, using the tape to roll the whole fence up for easy storage until it needs to be used again in the spring.
The tape’s reflective quality will increase the deterrent effect on the geese who don’t like shiny surfaces, shiny surfaces that aren’t water anyhow. The reflective tape will also be more visible to the human eye, reducing the risk of excited kids tripping on it. Tape works particularly well on groups of geese.
Note on Dock Safety
If you do have young children that may visit your dock, it is strongly recommended that you install a security gate to restrict unsupervised access. A strong fence around the dock is also advisable. Just hook a length of the chain over the gap where you tie your boat. Children love to lean out over the water.
The top railing of a fence is usually solid, but sometimes the center rail is more decorative than functional. Make sure that any center rails are also strong enough for the smaller kids to lean on.
Wood is an excellent material and looks beautiful outside, especially as it starts to age. However, if untreated wood is used or improperly treated and maintained, wood will rot when left outside in the elements. Hardwood lasts longer than softwood, but it will all eventually deteriorate if not maintained properly.
Regularly check the wooden railings around the water and your dock, making repairs and replacements where necessary. It is a blessing to have water close to your home, but the danger it poses must be respected. It can be hilarious watching someone fall into the water, and it can be tragic if you don’t see it happen.
If you are fortunate enough to own waterfront property, you might have chosen the location because you like to do a fishing spot, from a boat, or maybe just straight from the dock. Even if you’re not an angler, the dock is often a focal point in a waterfront property providing access to the home’s critical feature – the water.
Especially if you’re partial to fishing, your dock should be a clean, welcoming place where earth and water come together, a delightful place to begin and end a lazy day spent in, on, or by the water. A dock made dirty and unsanitary by a group of Geese is not the perfect focal point for your yard, and it’s not a very lovely place to unload a fresh catch of fish either.
Remember that even though the property may belong to you, the geese deserve their habitat to be looked after and maintained to be free of human pollutants and dangers. One of the greatest dangers to geese on lakes shared with humans is posed by discarded fishing tackle.
If you are fishing from a dock, pier, or just the bank of the lake, try to cast clear of weeds and other obstructions that may tangle your line. Remember that fish like to hide in the weeds when you hook them, and this tactic can make it impossible to reel the fish in.
If you do get your tackle caught in the weeds, close to the bank, please make every effort to retrieve as much of your line as possible. A goose with its legs tangled can be unable to build up the swimming or running speed it needs to take off and fly, and the bird can subsequently die if left unaided.
Author Note: If you have access to a boat, you are far less likely to get your line caught up in weeds further out on the water, and the deeper water is usually where the bigger fish are. If you get caught up and have to cut your line, it poses less of a threat to aquatic birdlife in deeper water.
Goose Symbolism & Conclusion
Some revere the aggressive nature of geese, the way they will berate, scold, chase, and bite much larger animals and humans has earned the respect of many cultures. The bravery of the goose symbolizes the fearless warrior. When the wrath of the goose is incurred, there will be no peace offering.
Symbolism shows those who resonate with the goose are focussed, strong-willed, and often successful, especially in the military. They hold strong family values, and they are protective, good providers, and great leaders. Good at giving and taking orders, the goose understands that leadership’s weight is best shared.
In Native American stories, the goose is shown to be one of the gullible creatures that the trickster is able to fool so that he can eat it. Despite the stories, the strong defense of the family shown by these birds has made Wild Goose a popular girl’s name in Native American culture.
Bravery is the courage to act despite your fear, but there is a foolhardiness to fearlessness. The trickster knows he cannot win in a fair fight against the fearless warrior, but he can use that fearlessness to trick the goose into falling into his trap. Or he could just use the fearless warrior’s kryptonite – Grape Kool-Aid!
Fly high friends!