Mute Swans As Canada Goose Control

Hansel 768x1024 Mute Swans As Canada Goose Control

Canadian Geese are a nuisance across much of North America, where flocks of several hundred at a time may take up residence in public space and create major waste problems.  While the Canada Goose is a welcome native species in North America, they have been naturalizing in parts of Europe where they are not native. In the United States where they have been protected for decades their numbers have boomed enormously, and can cause problems for businesses that rely on large areas of open turf as part of their business model.  From golf courses, to retirement communities, Canadian Geese can cause major problems if their numbers are not modified, and controlled, and the pound of poop per day that they produce can be a public health hazard.

One method of natural Canadian Goose control aside from goose fencing, and  population control, is to use larger birds to limit the number of mated pairs hanging around a property and creating more geese.  Mute Swans are European, and Asian native birds that can be used to effectively control the nesting population of Canadian Geese.  They are large, ornamental, and aggressive with other bird species once they have reached sexual maturity  at 5-7 years of age.  When they reach sexual maturity, if they are in a mated pair, care must be given around them once the mating season arrives since their aggression is not only limited to other animals.  If you use a mated Mute Swan pair to control the population of nesting geese it is wise to let the human population know that the birds are unpredictable in their territory in early spring, once they begin to nest, and that they may chase after humans.

While there are other methods of goose control that can be used in tandem, or alone, Mute Swans are a reliable way to control a pond’s Canada Goose population around the clock.  They may not eliminate every single pair of Canadian Geese, but they will keep the numbers of geese very small or completely nonexistent.  Captive pairs for ornamental and private ownership can be purchase by reputable breeders, and should arrive in perfect health, with a veterinary certificate, and be pinioned, so they are incapable of leaving your property.  It is important to speak to a breeder about the values of getting a pair of male and female, or whether getting two females or two males will work best for you.  As with all domestic animals, Mute Swans must be cared for and looked after year round, and their population should be controlled on your property to prevent their offspring from breeding in the wild and interrupting the balance of the native eco-system.  Always inquire with a breeder whether there is the possibility of having the animals sterilized before they are shipped to you, to prevent any clutches of eggs.  Mute’s can live for upward of 50 years, and with yearly clutches ranging from 5-12 eggs per year, eliminating the viable eggs from a mated pair will be a long term commitment if they are not neutered.

Due to the invasive nature of Mute Swans in the wild, particularly around the Great Lakes, and the Chesapeake Bay, it is imperative that any goose control program involving Mute Swans be tempered with an equal program to control the population of the domestic Mute Swan as well.  Whether it is in sterilizing the birds you already own, or committing to eliminate any eggs that they produce, laws across the states are tightening restrictions on the owners of private swan collections, as a step to protect the eco-system.  Mute Swans while beautiful and interactive, have been responsible for damage to the environment in both the Chesapeake Bay and the Great Lakes, and they have gone so far as to prevent the native birds from nesting in their traditional habitats, and destroying the eggs of native birds found in “their” territory.

As with all methods of animal control it is important to check any rules and restrictions for your area about the purchase and upkeep of Mute Swans before you purchase them, and to check with your local Department of Fish and Wildlife, or Parks and Recreation periodically for updates.  There are positive and negative aspects to most methods or goose control, and Mute Swans are no exception to that. Make sure that either you as an individual, or as a company have a long term strategy for the care and control of Mute Swans and their offspring before you use them to modify the goose population.

Mute’s can be valued members of private communities, and corporate sites, taking on the status of a mascot, and pet all in one.  For those of you who decide you are able to keep a Mute Swan or pair of Swans, I can attest to their value in adding beauty and grace to your property and ponds.  Their personalities are wonderful, and they can be trained with daily interaction to treat people with respect, and good will.  I have used Mute Swans as part of a Canadian Goose control strategy for 7 years, and value their place in my arsenal of tricks to keep my local population in manageable numbers.  I have committed to careful handling of my birds, and to controlling the swan population in my area, and I hope that you will do the same if you choose to use these beautiful birds as well.


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Comments

  1. Ray Santos says:

    We are considereing using swans to control the geese in a 3 acre pond.
    Wouls a single pair be sufficiecnt?
    I like the idea of a neutered pair so as not to affecf the surrounding area.
    Can you produce a cost estimate for a mature pair of muted swans?
    Ray

  2. Amy says:

    Ray,

    A single pair is effective on large ponds, especially as the pair matures and desires to protect “their property” for their cignets. If you have a way to obtain a neutered pair, that would be a great way to go, or you could speak with a breeder about obtaining two females or two males instead, and see what the breeder thinks about that. In the current market Mute Swans are much more inexpensive than they were a few years ago, this is partially due to their lack of desirability in a few regions of the country. Mutes are actually restricted in a few states at the time of this writing, so do your homework to make sure that you will be able to receive a pair in the first place, and then contact a reliable breeder. A pair will probably cost you around $200, but will vary.

    A breeder of Swans, geese and other water birds that I have used in the past is “Knox Swan and Dog,” check out their website to see if they have any birds available, or to ask a few questions.

  3. helen holmes says:

    Controlling Canada Geese by introducing Mute Swans is like trading a headache for a brain tumor. An aggressive Mute Swan is a killer of all other bird life in wetlands environments – most of which have been set up as havens for all birds.

    I live smack in the middle of the wetlands next to a very large Bay and just 3 mute swans in two years have vacuumed up way over half of population of shore birds in this area. And unlike the other species I see all of the time, Mute Swans want even people to move on out and will target a person walking along the shore.

    Very dumb way to go. How about birth control in cracked corn. Geese and other species really would fall for that and it would only be done in early Springs when their populations seemed to be getting too high.

    I live in a preserved area and the geese became a problem when coyotes moved in and killed anything they could catch. That pushed the geese into a tiny area where they felt protected. The egrets who spent half the year here just do not come anymore to have and raise their young. So we have coyotes taking over the birds land and 3 mute swans eating up all the species and attacking from the water.

    But it is illegal to shoot a swan and nailing a coyote means stalking on at high risk to oneself and then if lucky, shooting it.

    The laws make no sense and while geese are not perfect (as we aren’t) they are better neighbors than mute swans and coyotes. Trust me.

  4. Amy says:

    Helen,

    I understand your frustration, sometimes it feels like the laws take too many years to adjust and catch up with current issues when it comes to environmental practices. Double check your local Dept. of Fish and Game, most areas of the country allow hunting, and are actively removing both adult Mutes and nests of eggs to protect the native species. It may be that you can report this aggressive pair, and have them removed by government approved hunting.

    I have some experience with birth control in corn that is targeted for Rock Pigeons, but I’m not sure if it is available in any form for Geese yet. There are many other great ways to keep Goose populations low, so thanks for participating in the discussion. I have a few other articles on ways to control Canadian Geese, so If you are looking for a few more ideas feel free to read them and see if any of those ideas would be helpful to you.

    Best of luck and happy gardening!

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