In recent years flocks of local-nesting or “resident” geese have become year round inhabitants of the Adirondacks, its waterways, residential areas, and open fields. Too often, they are causing significant problems. This explosion in “resident geese” numbers is due to expanding areas of short grass, lack of natural predators, limited hunting, and supplemental feeding.  Locally, the Saranac Lake Central School district is dealing with a highly publicized public outcry to their plans of euthanizing the geese that are desecrating the athletic fields.

While most people find a few geese acceptable, problems develop as local flocks grow and the droppings become excessive (a goose produces about a pound of droppings per day). Problems include increased high bacteria counts in the water, nutrient loading, and algae growth, public health concerns at beaches and drinking water supplies, and aggressive behavior by nesting birds.

Upper Saranac Lake is not exempt of these growing issues. But if we are proactive we can reduce the impact from the geese and need not get into the conflicts and decisions that the Saranac Lake School District is now seeing.  Although there are many ways to discourage geese from settling in your area, perhaps there is no better way than to manage the habitat to make it less attractive to geese. Areas of lush manicured lawns adjacent to the lake are attractive to geese.

Making your yard less attractive to geese can reduce “goose use.” An unmowed 6-foot wide shoreline buffer of native grasses and natural vegetation can discourage geese from visiting your lawn. Geese are especially attracted to lawns that are heavily fertilized, watered, and mowed. Letting the lawn grow longer and not fertilizing or watering it serves a dual purpose. Not only will the area be less attractive to geese but it will naturally curb any runoff that would bring nitrates into Upper Saranac Lake.  It is also important to never feed the geese or any waterfowl. Feeding causes nutritional imbalance and greater concentrations and overcrowding of geese.

Guy Middleton
Lake Manager