How to frighten geese away in Maryland | Canada goose

How to frighten geese away

Frightening works best before geese become accustomed to a location, and may only provide short-term relief. Do not use frightening methods when geese are nesting or flightless (after nesting, geese undergo an annual "molt" — a 4-5 week period between mid-June and late July when they shed and re-grow their outer wing feathers. Birds resume flight by August). Frightening or hazing methods should be employed daily in the spring to discourage nesting, as well as in the late summer and fall when geese are feeding.

Visual deterrents and barriers are relatively inexpensive and can be effective. Geese are particular about where they land and how they take off. Visual deterrents are used to prevent geese from flying into and using an area. Visual deterrents aren’t necessarily attractive, often require regular maintenance, and may be the target of vandals.

Scarecrows and Silhouettes

Scarecrows or silhouettes of predators can be effective deterrents. Those with moving parts tend to be more effective initially and all scarecrows and silhouettes need to be moved and repositioned every day or so to maintain their effectiveness. Geese typically become used to these devices, especially if they are used alone.

Flags or Balloons

Another alternative is to place flags and/or balloons on poles 6 to 8 feet above the ground in and around the area where you do not want geese. Flags can be made of 3- to 6-foot strips of colored plastic tape, or 2-foot by 2-foot squares of orange flagging. Helium balloons with large eyes can also be used. Place flags or balloons throughout the open lawn area.

Another option is to affix several strips of Mylar-style tape (30 inches in length) to 4-foot high stakes strategically placed in the yard.  The reflection and humming noise from the tape blowing in the wind will disturb and frighten the geese. In many urban areas such as playing fields, golf courses, and parks, these visual deterrents may not be appropriate due to human use of the area. Flagging and balloons, however, can be used on playing fields and removed prior to human use.


Lasers have been shown to be effective at roosting ponds. As soon as it is dark, point the laser several yards in front of resting geese and slowly move the laser dot closer to them. You likely will need to repeat this practice over several nights. Always keep the laser beam pointed below the horizon.


Allow your dog(s) to range freely in the area. Just be sure there is a means to keep them on the property. If you don’t have a dog or can’t let your pet run loose on your property, trained dogs with herding instincts (e.g., border collies) can be very effective in frightening and hazing geese in a lawn area. 

Initially, hazing using dogs should be repeated several times per day for several weeks. The main drawback of using dogs to relieve goose problems is that geese will tend to come back to the area from which they were chased once the dog is gone.

Model airplanes and boats

Motorized model airplanes and boats have been successfully used to haze geese on small ponds (less than 5 acres). Golf carts, power boats, and other motorized vehicles can also be used. In some cases, the effectiveness of this technique can be enhanced with noisemakers. However, unless other steps are taken to reduce the attractiveness of the area to geese, this technique requires constant monitoring, since the geese will return when the boat or plane is removed.


Noisemaking devices such as cracker shells, screamers, propane cannons, sirens, and air horns are used to scare birds from an area. They are inexpensive and can be effective. However, they are not well-suited for many urban situations and in the absence of some sort of lethal reinforcement geese quickly adapt to the noise and the desired effect is not obtained. In some instances, taped distress calls have been successful but the effects are typically short lived. Check local laws concerning noise control ordinances, fire safety codes, and restrictions on the use of firearms before taking action.

Laws and regulations to be aware of

Federal regulations

Migratory Bird Treaty Act of 1918

The Migratory Bird Treaty Act makes it illegal for anyone to take, possess, import, export, transport, sell, purchase, barter, or offer for sale, purchase, or barter, any migratory bird, or the parts, nests, or eggs of such a bird except under the terms of a valid permit issued pursuant to federal regulations.

Migratory birds may seek respite within trees or on buildings considered private property. The Migratory Bird Treaty Act of 1918 prohibits the removal of all listed species or their parts (feathers, eggs, nests, etc.) from such property.

While we attempt to provide guidance about state and federal regulations pertaining to specific species and control techniques, we do not provide information about local jurisdictions (city, town, county, etc.) where regulations may be more restrictive, especially as it applies to discharge of firearms, transport of animals or use of trapping equipment. Contact your local city or county government to inquire further. No guarantee is made that information (or lack of information) associated with a species or control technique is completely accurate or current. You should become familiar with federal, state and local laws before beginning any wildlife control activities.

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