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I live in an area with a lot of lakes/ponds, with many paths around them. Many humans and dogs enjoy walking on these paths. However, the Canada geese have recently set up shop on the lakes. They don't appear to be nesting on the paths, but sometimes they will walk onto/right next to them and stand there for long stretches of time.

I would like to know how to safely move through an area where there are several Canada geese present--not blanketing the path, but standing nearby and alert, perhaps on either side. The brush next to the paths is often too thick for a person to move through, and the geese don't tend to show much desire to move.

How do I minimize my chance of getting attacked?

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    High chance that they will attack. They are known to be temperamental as well. Give them a wide berth and keep your distance :) – Ricketyship May 3 '18 at 18:48
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    Be the aggressor, charge into them screaming like a blood-crazed predator, and they will fly away. Pre-emptive assaults are the only defence against psycho geese. Be prepared for a retaliatory assault, strategically retreating to a safe distance once you get past them will usually bring an end to the aggression. – ShemSeger May 4 '18 at 2:42
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    We get a tonne of Canadian Geese by the lakes / rivers near where I live and I just keep walking without interacting with them, and skirt round them by about half a meter, they tend to just ignore you, maybe hiss - obviously not as easy as you said the paths are surrounded by thick bushes. Never had one attack around here through, they're normally rather timid, maybe more used to humans in this area. – Aravona May 4 '18 at 10:24
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    @ShemSeger - Your suggestion may be illegal in some jurisdictions. One would be cited for worrying or harassing wildlife. – cobaltduck May 4 '18 at 14:01
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It looks like geese attacks are far more common in the spring when they are defending their nests. Realistically, you just want to treat them like any other wild animals and give them enough space and just wait until the nesting season is over when they are far less aggressive.

The guidelines for protecting yourself from a geese attack that I have found are,

  • Stare down your attacker. They will learn from your body language that you are a threat. Canada geese have excellent vision and will be able to perceive where you are looking and how you are reacting to them. Do not close or squint your eyes. Do not turn your back.
  • Slowly back away. Don’t turn your back, or stop looking at the goose. Using your peripheral vision be aware of obstacles in your pathways.
  • Do not act hostile, remain neutral in your demeanor. Do not hit, kick or swing at the goose. This will only agitate them more, and may even bring the female off her nest to support her spouse in the attack. If you remain neutral, you are less of a threat.
  • If the goose flies towards your face, duck or move away at a 90 degree angle to the direction of the flight still facing the attacking goose.

What to do when a Canada goose attacks

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From your description of the area and given that it's springtime, it seems entirely possible the geese are nesting in the brush on either side of the path. In that case I would avoid attempting to go around them by leaving the path and instead stick to the path or areas of good visilbility as much as possible.

I was once surrounded by angry geese and managed to get out the situation my moving very slowly and deliberately while clapping my hands in front of me. The geese slowly backed off and let me through. I would think a similar approach would work for less aggressive geese who just happen to be setting up shop in the middle of the path.

I was walking on a paved walkway along a river, I had headphones in and was looking down at the path as I went, when I rather suddenly became aware that I was virtually surrounded by angry geese.

There were 5 or 6 large male geese spread around me on all sides, with their wings raised and beaks open, hissing angrily. Just beyond them were groups of juveniles and females, both on, off and all around the path. I froze on the spot and looked back the way I had come, it looked just about as hazardous as the path forward, somehow I'd strolled right into the middle of the flock. Taking in the scene I realised that if these animals were smart enough to attack at once, they would probably win the fight.

With the path I had followed looking just as hazardous as the one ahead, I decided to keep going on my current direction of travel. I very slowly stood up very straight, extended my arms in front on me and started to clap loudly, and I combined that with very slow, deliberate steps in my direction of travel. What I found was that the male geese slowly backed off as I approached, maintaining their attack posture and hissing the entire time, while the females and juveniles slowly shuffled off the path and kept themselves somewhat behind the males.

This approach matches some of the steps outlined in the other answer, in terms of keeping an eye on the geese, appearing threatening, and not backing down or turning away.

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Most of the time geese will make only token gestures of aggression. Don't make sudden movements, just walk past them, and they'll begrudgingly move out of the way.

But for a month or two every spring, geese have a nesting season. During this time they lose their flight feathers and are totally unable to fly. Their only mission in life is to protect their nests, mates, and young goslings. Being earthbound, their only option is to attack if they think something bad is about to happen. And they are quite willing to sacrifice their lives while attacking.

During mating season, geese are effectively insane and paranoid. Keep a wide berth, move slowly, don't go into undergrowth where their eggs might be, don't wave your arms, and whatever you do, don't open an umbrella.

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