Should you Feed Geese in the Winter?
By Lisa Tretiak
When the weather turns cold and the lakes start to freeze, we prepare for the calls of geese stranded on frozen ponds.
During the summer, a goose may become injured but can hide amongst all of the other geese. In the fall, once the flock begins to thin out, the injured geese are easier to spot but more difficult to capture.
Many concerned members of the public start calling numerous organizations wondering what they should do. Many callers receive information to do nothing and the geese will leave on their own. Some believe that leaving food will entice the geese to stay all winter and miss their migration. Unfortunately, this is a myth. The urge to migrate is stronger than the urge to stay for food. Many of the remaining geese are either injured and cannot fly away, or have stayed behind to be with their injured mate. By not leaving out food or water, these birds will starve and eventually succumb to the frigid climate. Leaving out cracked corn and warm water helps the birds gain strength to handle the weather and also gain trust to come off the lake.
It is too dangerous to attempt to capture geese on a freshly frozen pond and it is best to lure them off the pond and onto solid ground. Never attempt to capture any wild animal without proper instructions. You cannot help the animal if you need to stop by the hospital first yourself. Always call first when you find any injured or orphaned wildlife.
Tips on Capturing Wildlife
- Attempting a rescue requires more than one person.
- Have a box or container, towel or blanket and a plan.
- Try to use your surroundings to help with the capture. Herd the animal towards a wall of a building or thick brush.
- Try to get as close as possible to the animal to throw the towel or blanket overtop.
- Once the head is covered, you will have a few seconds to restrain the animal and place into the box.
Lisa Tretiak, a founding member of the Prairie Wildlife Rehabilitation Centre (“PWRC”), started her career in wildlife rehabilitation in 1994. She worked summers at a wildlife rehabilitation facility, answering phones and giving medical attention to wildlife patients. In 1998, Lisa graduated with a Bachelor of Science Degree with a major in Zoology from the University of Manitoba. She gained permanent employment in the wildlife rehabilitation field as a rehab supervisor, and later moved into the position of Rehabilitation Director.
PRAIRIE WILDLIFE REHABILITATION CENTRE INC.
P.O. BOX 48059
WINNIPEG, MB R2J 4A3