If you ask any North American resident “what is the most fearsome, savage animal on Earth?”, you may be surprised by the answer. It’s not lions, tigers, or bears, nor is it crocodiles or 32-foot snakes. No. It’s the Canada goose.
Born in the fiery pits of hell and sent to Earth for pure chaos, these fearless warriors do not concern themselves with the foe – just how they will crush them in the most violent way possible. Much like the honey badger, Canada geese are infamous for taking on anyone foolish enough to cross them, regardless of size.
So, it may come as no surprise to you that in the war against the Canada goose, the goose is winning.
A new report by the University of Illinois has found that standard goose-scaring tactics are not working against these godless birds, and they are ceding less territory to humans as a result. When the geese did get scared, they returned at a rapid rate, suggesting that they were never even really that scared in the first place.
“When they’re not being harassed, they're making the choice to leave the park because it's beneficial to them – there’s a resource elsewhere they want to access,” doctoral student Ryan Askren said in a statement.
“Whereas when we’re harassing them, they probably have a biological reason to be there. There's some sort of resource, such as food or water, and they want to be there at that moment."
These types of geese have been known to avoid harassment before, but this study may finally explain why. Using FitBit-like GPS trackers, the researchers could see exactly what the geese did immediately after being harassed.
Often within just one hour, the harassed geese would return to the park after staying close by in the urban area, exactly the opposite of what the humans wanted. They did not burn much energy, just did very much the same activities that they usually would.
As to why they did it: like Occam’s razor states, the most obvious answer is often right. In this case, it appears the geese simply want something in the area and don’t care about your pathetic attempts at getting in the way.
The researchers note that possibly the only way to scare these titans of the animal kingdom away is by quite literally killing them, which doesn’t go down well with the public while they’re trying to have a picnic.
“The literature suggests unless there's a lethal aspect to harassment, unless they really have a strong fear that they're going to die or some of them are actually dying, then most harassment methods just don't seem to be very effective,” Askren continued.
The authors do credit the geese with a host of positive traits, such as incredible situational awareness and memory, but that was likely to appease their new goose overlords. So, much like Australians had to learn to live with emus after losing the Great Emu War, so too must we learn to co-exist with Canada geese, because they simply do not care about us.
Maybe we could hire them as bodyguards or something.
The study was published in the Wiley Society Bulletin.