June 15, 2021

Keep geese, muskrats away from ponds

What you need to know about managing animals

RICHMOND, Ind. — When managing animals on your pond, it’s critical to know the laws and regulations that may protect those species.

Once you understand the rules, there are several approaches to managing animals that you may consider a nuisance.

“We have options when it comes to dealing with nuisance wildlife,” said Jonathan Ferris, Purdue Extension educator in Wayne County.

“I try to steer people toward exclusion, cultural methods and habitat modification. When we get to trapping, shooting, toxicants, those more lethal methods, we’re looking at unpleasant things that have to be done.

“There may be some permits involved. It gets tricky. It’s much better to keep geese out to begin with.”

When it comes to geese, avoid feeding them. This is the first step if you don’t want to invite them to your property.

You can also reduce fertilizer use near your pond. Geese prefer fertilized grass to unfertilized grass.

“That lush, green, vigorously growing grass is attractive to them,” Ferris said.

Reducing your lawn size can minimize foraging sites for geese. Allowing grass to grow tall around the pond may also act as a vegetative barrier to geese.

“There are repellent products to spray on the grass,” Ferris said. “There are frightening devices, like fire cracker shells to shoot over the pond.

“You can destroy nests until they have an egg in them. Once there’s an egg, you can no longer harass those geese or destroy those eggs without a permit. You can hire someone with a proper license to come in and remove them.”

It’s best to start preventative techniques before geese become established in an area. Once geese are established, it can become very difficult to deter them from a given area, particularly after nesting has begun.

When it comes to muskrats, they can be trapped during trapping season — but it requires a valid license.

“Muskrats can do real damage to your pond dam,” Ferris said. “So, you don’t want to let them get established.

“How do you know if you have muskrats? You’ll see their runs and tunnels all along the edge of the bank. You’ll see holes going up into the dam.”

Learn more at tinyurl.com/4kepyenu.

Erica Quinlan

Field Editor