DES MOINES, Iowa — The City of Des Moines is releasing a new plan to humanely cut down on the Canada goose population in the area by making the birds feel less welcome. The problem, it seems, is that the birds love our landscaping as much as we do – according to the plan published online on Tuesday.

After a review of the problems around the city, the Iowa DNR is recommending a series of small changes. It begins with attacking the birds’ sense of security. Canada geese prefer to nest on open areas near water where they can see predators more easily. Suburban ponds, especially those along manicured golf courses and public parks, offer the perfect nesting conditions. To combat that naturally, the DNR suggests adding buffers of unmowed prairie grass or other vegetation – even butterfly gardens. By providing those breaks in the landscape, geese may become concerned about hiding predators and nest elsewhere.

That isn’t the only manmade issue that is keeping the birds around and littering parks with droppings. The most obvious is the feeding of birds by the public. The DNR suggests ordinances that ban feeding any waterfowl and strict enforcement and signage about the ordinance in problem areas.

The city will also deploy techniques in ‘aversive conditioning’ to make them view humans as predators. That includes setting up reflective tape and devices to scare birds, adding dog parks near ponds, legally hazing geese by scaring them off when they aren’t nesting and spraying a grape extract on public lawns that can irritate geese when they eat it.

Finally, the city will also consider the use of temporary fencing – including electrified fencing if necessary – to break geese of their habits of traveling to-and-from ponds. Another potential deterrent is floating pads that make it impossible for birds to land on open water.

The different strategies will be implemented in these targeted areas, along with a list of drainage areas and retention ponds.

  • AH Blank Golf Course
  • Birdland Park/Drive
  • Des Moines River Levee Trail System
  • Glendale Cemetery
  • Gray’s Station Stormwater Wetland
  • James W. Cownie Baseball Park
  • James W. Cownie Soccer Park
  • Pete Crivaro Park
  • Riverview Park
  • Southeast Connector Trail
  • Three Lakes Estates