The Canadian invasion

Hoardes of geese are tarnishing Canada’s name south of the border

The Canadian invasion


Americans usually welcome visiting Canadians and their dollars with open arms. Yet every fall there are millions of Canadian tourists whose deposits aren’t nearly as appreciated. We speak, of course, of Branta Canadensis, the handsomely plumed birds best known as Canada geese. The birds, which have begun their yearly jaunt to southern climes, are an increasing nuisance in the U.S. Last year, Americans killed nearly two million Canada geese, including some 2,000 culled in New York City and neighbouring Nassau County. The trouble, according to Americans: the birds are loud, aggressive and dirty. “It’s like a sea of doo-doo,” one seriously put-off Long Islander told the Wall Street Journal recently. “No matter how much you chase them, they come back.”

The problem is getting worse, says McGill wildlife biology professor David Bird, because of a recent explosion in goose populations, the result of conservation efforts and the lack of natural predators in urban and suburban settings. “They’re aggressive,” says the aptly named Bird. “The worst weapon is their wing bone. They flick it, and it’ll break a kid’s forearm.” Such behaviour is tarnishing Canada’s name. “If you talk to Americans, they’ll try to blame this on Canada, but it’s not really true. A lot of geese actually breed in the northern part of the U.S.” A British tabloid dubbed the goose “one of Britain’s most hated birds” and, because the British government is considering lifting a ban on the sale of the meat, even included a recipe to curb the bird’s legendary gaminess. It’s tough to beat this old Canadian recipe, though: stew goose in a pot with assorted spices and a good-sized rock. After 12 hours, discard water and bird, eat the rock.

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