Stories

There's a goose on the loose!

Canada Geese 2016 - 1
This year's fresh new crop of goslings numbers six.

Mount Royal is home to a gaggle of beautiful Canada geese Over coming weeks, the University community will be able to enjoy watching a handful of geese parading around the pond for the goslings' first dip. The parent geese will remain protective of their babies until the goslings learn to fly in a few months.

Mount Royal University is home to many nesting pairs of Canada geese and their new goslings. Here's how to co-habitate safely with these gaggles.
According to Candice Merrill in Security, the geese began settling on campus about a decade ago. What started as a single pair has grown to about six birds, which come to nest at Mount Royal each spring.

"At first, they nested on the second level patio outside of The Table and we used to simply close that area off so people didn't get too close," Merrill said.
Between the rising number of students and the arrival of another two to three additional couples, blocking off nesting areas is no longer feasible. Canada geese are protected by the Migratory Bird Convention Act. According to the Act, it is illegal for them to be moved off the campus and people must stay 30 metres away.

"We pretty much let nature take its course," said Shane Williams, MRU manager of grounds. "We don't interfere."

In prior years, Williams said people on campus placed planks beside the nests so the goslings could walk down them instead of falling. The University of Calgary has trampolines to soften their landing. Again Williams takes the approach to leave nature alone.

Which means that it's the Mount Royal community's job to find ways to safely cohabitate with our feathered friends.

Students, employees and visitors are encouraged to take detours around the birds, as they are known to hiss and flap their wings aggressively if they feel their goslings are threatened. If they cannot be avoided, a tip from the Inglewood Bird Sanctuary is to keep calm, speak gently and back away slowly.

The parent-birds have good reason to be protective, as predators such as ravens and coyotes are known to visit the campus. A "Wile E. Coyote with three legs" has tried to get the goslings a couple of times said Williams.

Another danger for the geese is motor vehicles. Merrill said that a goose was hit and killed in 2015 by a car. An incident she hopes won't happen again.
"We recommend everyone do the speed limit, 30 kilometers per hour, and be extra watchful for the geese at this time of year."

The goose population at Mount Royal will likely increase over time because geese have a strong urge to return with their mate and nest at their place of birth. As well, the campus grounds are an ideal location for Canada geese, with the pond for water and swimming, lots of different grasses for grazing, and many nooks and crannies to build and hide their nests.


Andrea Ranson
 — April 26, 2016