I work for a location which has quite a few acres and around 2,000 employees. We recently built a new building, part of which was some nice landscaping, including a pond on the campus.

Well, now we have a problem with these on the campus:

enter image description here

In case you think they are pretty and cute, enough of them turn sidewalks between buildings into a parking lot for their.... waste. Not to mention hissing at passerbys. Anyways, many people would like to not see them anymore.

Anyways, situations like this get a bit complicated because of competing factors. People feel very strongly on across the spectrum of "how much do you like geese." Some consider them flying rats. Some care a considerable amount about nature/animals and preserving or increasing their habitat.

I would like to present a plan to get rid of them or just do it, but this contrast in people's perspectives makes it a bit more difficult. People are very unlikely to change their position, on either side, much if any, and may care very strongly about this issue.

I suspect this contrast will occur regardless of whether the animals are geese or ducks or deer or any other critter. It just happens to be geese in my case.

My question is:

  • How can I approach a situation in the workplace where people have very strong and contrasted perspectives on the value of geese (or other animals) which are irritants or interfering with workplace operations?

(I am not asking how to get rid of them. That's an entirely separate question and not on topic for this StackExchange)

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    @JimG. did you even read the question? Your comment indicates "no." I work on a location which has quite a few acres under roof in addition to the many on-campus acres outside between buildings or onsite. – enderland Jul 3 '13 at 15:50
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    what did you guys expect when you put a pond in? Are those Canadian Geese? They look like it. If they are, you can't harm them at all. They're a protected species. Maybe just learn to enjoy nature? – squeemish Jul 3 '13 at 17:12
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    This should be closed, because a) it's really about wildlife and b) the answer would be exactly the same if this was about a place that was not a workplace. – DJClayworth Jul 3 '13 at 18:54
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    @DJClayworth (and others). Read the question body as well as title. "how to approach getting rid of" not "how to get rid of." I don't care how we get rid of them. I care about how to approach the subject when some people care waaaay more about geese than I do. – enderland Jul 3 '13 at 19:01
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    @JoeStrazzere I work on a campus which has many acres and several dozen buildings. In effect, my company IS the building management, maintenance, and groundskeeping. Not everyone in the world works in a leased office building. – enderland Jul 4 '13 at 13:53

I voted to keep this open largely because geese have been a problem on two separate work places of mine. As was a particularly vindictive wild turkey. It may seem like the outdoors are not a workplace issue, but what does one do when the evil turkey is keeping people from getting to their cars and literally chasing a pregnat woman down the street? At some point, getting from the parking lot to the door is a workplace issue!

Alot of this is understanding the decision making process of your workplace. Different organizations will treat this differently. Usually it boils down to:

  • Safety - any case of actual safety hazards should get top billing - in the case of geese, if people are literally slipping on goose droppings, it's time to make a case that charming aviary does not have a right to pose a risk to life and limb.
  • Security - same goes for security of the building and the work. If wildlife is making it difficult to secure a building, usually business mission trumps wildlife. This includes damage to property and difficulting in patrolling security.
  • Local norms - from location to location, the norms for acceptable wildlife can vary. I was not all thrilled, for example, when I delivered some systems to a customer site to find out that rattlesnakes and scorpions where acceptable site visitors. But in the desert in Arizona, it's so impossible to get rid of them and so typical, that the population keeps bite and sting kits on hand and lives with it. At least on the military base I was living on (note, military guys are a lot less likely to complain about nature)
  • Company initiatives - you'll find that green initiatives and other branding can come into play. These days "green" is a point of branding, as well as a good thing to do. No company wants to make a big deal about natural harmony only to get tagged in a newspaper as geese poisoners.

Knowing what buttons to push in these areas can be a big part of getting what you want. Also - it's important to know the key stake holders. Certainly facilities and/or grounds keeping will play a major role. But so may marketing, security, and customer relations. How decisions are made in an organization is it's own discipline, and it can be unique to each company and campus.

Ideally, the best option is to find a happy compromise, and it's amazing what experts in the field can come up with. Often a key thing can be figuring out what the negative side effect of the wild life is, and addressing that. I admit that I have yet to see a goose-management option that involved keeping the geese around and elminating the unfortunate goose dropping related side effect... but I wouldn't be surprised if the right civil engineer or wildlife expert could find a way to entice the geese to stop the unforunate behavior without driving them away completely. That's the ideal world, since it makes everyone happy.

I'm willing to admit, though, that you can't always find one - and that people with the skills to do the everyday work of the company probably aren't the folks best suited to wildlife management. So the real trick is to see what factors on the list above apply to your situation and to engage people who have the ability to spend money in finding a solution. Not say that you won't get lucky with a broad company communication offering, say, a prize or something for a good compromise based solution...

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  • +1 for the list of keyword topics that can be used to persuade management. Very useful for coming up with a diplomatic argument. – Rachel Jul 6 '13 at 17:25
  • This most comprehensively addresses my question, great answer! – enderland Jul 9 '13 at 16:41

One thing you could do to keep the animal lovers from getting upset is to hand the problem to them to solve. Tell them the geese need to go and ask them to find a humane solution for you.

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    This is a very clever way to deal with this situation. – enderland Jul 3 '13 at 19:29
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    Thats the thing there is no problem for them other than that you are interferring with the geese. – IDrinkandIKnowThings Jul 3 '13 at 19:55

To approach this problem, you'll need to come up with a solution that will meet the needs of all parties involved.

For example, a company that I worked found a great solution. Same problem: Geese interfering with traffic and making a royal mess on the grounds. They just love freshly cut grass. These geese even protected so it's illegal to harm then in any way.

So the company got "Scott" a border collie. The dog was very well trained, he'd chase the geese from the places where they shouldn't be but left them alone otherwise and not even once touched one. They made a bit of a story out of this: the dog got a formal employee number, his picture taken and showed up on the org chart as "goose controller".

Everyone seemed really happy with the solution since it cleared up traffic and the mess and they are plenty of other places near by where the geese can hang out safely.

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    That's a great idea. Plus, during winter, when there are no geese, the dog can help out with code reviews: sjbaker.org/humor/cardboard_dog.html – Kristof Provost Jul 5 '13 at 8:37
  • -1: (I am not asking how to get rid of them. That's an entirely separate question and not on topic for this StackExchange) – Jim G. Jul 5 '13 at 13:39
  • Hi Hilmar, the solution your company came up with is one that takes into account the needs of all parties and is really how one should approach this problem. I added at the top that what makes your answer successful is that it helps keep everyone happy. – jmort253 Jul 5 '13 at 22:19

Since there is only one company involved here, the approach can be very simple.

Start a petition, indicating what the problem is, and how it bothers people. Get as many signatures as you can, and hand it over to building management.

If they see that many, many people are bothered, they will take it seriously, and find a way to solve the problem (as you indicate, there are many potential ways to keep geese away - many of which are not very expensive).

At one office park where I worked, we had a similar geese problem. It was a multi-company office park, but a multi-company petition started things in motion, and the problem eventually got solved (it took about a year from the start of the petition until the solution was implemented).

Good luck!

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  • A petition could very well make this problem worse, because a petition tells everyone at this location who sees the petition, "we are planning on getting rid of the geese." I would think this would actually exacerbate the problem I present, rather than helping. Additionally, I don't need a petition to get approval, simply getting the appropriate maintenance/facilities manager approval is all I "need" to get this started (ignoring the people factor, which is what this question is about). – enderland Jul 4 '13 at 14:05

A anonymous phone call may be enough to solve the issue. Instead of trying to deal with the situation yourself there are people out there that will fight the battle for you. People concerned about the welfare of animals who will be concerned that they are at risk.

United Wildlife’s specialty is prevention of geese from ponds, golf courses, lawns and swimming pools through special block-out, repellent techniques. The geese will be treated in a humane manner.

United Wild animal control can use repellents and reproductive neutralizers to stop the spread of geese on your property. Our goose experts can suffocate goose eggs but keep them intact, fooling the mother goose into thinking the egg should hatch so she won’t lay more. At certain times of the year, United Wildlife animal control can round up geese and take them to a relocation centre or euthanize them, depending on the type of goose.

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    Our landlord tried this, the gesse repellant did not work for even 24 hours and they euthanized the geese (which upset most of us here) and we had new ones inside a week. – HLGEM Jul 3 '13 at 19:11
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    @enderland, I was just pointing out that the known ways to deal with this problem are ineffective. – HLGEM Jul 3 '13 at 19:18
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    @HLGEM - That's terrible. Who ordered the euthanization? The employer or the government? – jmort253 Jul 4 '13 at 0:20
  • Michael - you are advocating geesecide, right? Please remember that this is not Christmas yet. – Deer Hunter Jul 4 '13 at 5:55
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    @DeerHunter In a way yes I am. But in other ways no I'm not. Considering the Geese that are currently alive are treated humanly and only the eggs are suffocated there is no loss to Goose life. Although saying that it may strike up a debate on if suffocating the egg is 'killing' so to speak even though there technically is no life..yet. – Michael Grubey Jul 4 '13 at 11:05

The main issue here seems to be how to do have the geese removed from the property without offending the goose-lovers, rather than the best way to remove the geese.

I've seen at some large campuses outside the city here they let part of the campus go "wild" - they don't mow it, and they even plant small trees to create an "eco" park around the landscaped area. Sometimes they put a paved path to it and a picnic table or two for staff that like to eat near the park.

This solution would keep the geese away from most of your campus, and allow them on a small corner away from the buildings, where those who really want the hang out with the geese can do so.

I don't know if it would work on your property, but would it be possible to find a means to chase the geese away to a designated corner of the property with a "natural" look and just leave them there? You could put a picnic table for the goose-lovers so they can eat lunch and appreciate the geese. Also make sure you have a "Please do not feed the wildlife" sign.

My understanding of the geese is that the best times to chase them away from where you don't want them is early spring, before they've really settled into a location or started mating. I think there's also a period in late summer where they are less aggressive (after the babies have grown enough to be mostly independent). This might be a solution that will have to wait for next season.

I'd also suggest talking with a professional wildlife control company about the best way to deter them from the main parts of your campus/attract them to the isolated corner.

I'm not sure you could attempt 100% goose removal, because my experiences with people who like geese is that they simply like geese and even if they are aware of the problems that geese create, they will still be unhappy if you remove them. I think some form of controlling the locations of the geese would keep them happier.

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