Good Question: Why So Many Geese In Minn.?

By Jason DeRusha, WCCO-TV

MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — There is something beautiful about a Canada goose, swimming majestically in one of Minnesota’s lakes. But there is something less-than-beautiful about the deposits those geese leave all over our bike paths and walking trails. So why are there so many geese in Minnesota?

“The things we do to modify our habitat for our enjoyment benefit the geese as well,” said Bryan Lueth, DNR Wildlife supervisor at the Carlos Avery Wildlife Preserve in Forest Lake.

He says things have changed over the past 50 years.

“Canada geese were protected from hunting, with the hopes, the population would establish — and one day we’d have a population of a thousand,” Lueth said. “They even published how-to guides to raise and restore Canada geese.”

Clearly, we have far more than 1,000 today.

According to the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources, there are more than 300,000 Canada geese in Minnesota — 25,000 are estimated to live in the Twin Cities.

“I think it’s a combination of three things,” Lueth said.

First: there was an intentional effort by the DNR and hunters to reintroduce the nearly extinct Giant Canada Goose.

“They were raised and released on purpose to restore the bird to its original habitat,” he said. “A pretty significant effort by state wildlife agencies and sportsmen.”

Second: the Minnesota habitat is ideal — lots of lakes and lots of manicured lawns.

“The two most important ingredients for geese: open water for escape and grass to graze on,” Leuth said.

Geese run to open water from the grass when a predator like a coyote or a dog threatens. When wildlife specialists reintroduced the goose, they didn’t anticipate how well the goose would adapt to an urban environment, Leuth said.

The third factor: geese live longer than many wild birds, up to 10 years. And geese reproduce throughout their entire life. So according to the DNR, a lake with three pairs of geese can become 300 geese by the end of 10 years.

“They survive and their young survive longer, so there are more broods and more young produced,” he said.

Minnesota does have a Canada goose hunting season, but you can’t hunt in many cities. So some communities have tried rounding up the geese, to get them out of parks.

Letting a lakeshore lawn go native helps too, because that isn’t easy for the geese to eat.

No doubt there is beauty in the geese.

“It’s tricky finding that balance where we have enough to enjoy but not too many where they’re interfering with our enjoyment of our parks,” Lueth said.

More from Jason DeRusha


  • In up to my neck in . . .

    I ‘m really tired of Canadian goose doo doo.

  • greg mizer

    there was a mallard duck shot in calif that was banded it was 22 yrs old. the cities should let person hunt the geese or have dogs to chase the geese away.

    • Charlie

      Yeah, do you believe that?

      Someone must have switched bands on it…. = good trick.

      Easy to do, as we raised and banded ducks for years.

  • Sam I Am

    There are more then what this is reporting. No way is there just 25000.

  • Greg Laden

    I’m told they don’t taste good, Is this true?

  • Sharon

    I am an animal lover, but hate geese. Last week one acutally flew up and tried
    to attach me while i was biking. It seems the geese have more rights than
    people who want to enjoy our parks and bike trails.

    • Chuck

      They should legalize fireworks so we can use bottle rockets on the honkers.

  • kevin

    Sharon, geese are like people . They know when some doesn’t like them. That’s why there on the lookout for people in camo.

  • TS

    I’m tired of being hissed at and chased by geese! Especially when they are just standing right on the asphalt walking trail. I either have to walk off the path and WAY around them or I get hissed and chased. And if they happen to have their babies nearby, I’m toast. I don’t even like going for walks anymore.

    Please get them under control!!

    • Johnny Rain Cloud


      I feel so bad that you had to walk 10 more feet on your walk to avoid a goose. I hope when people see you avoiding goose doo doo that they will lay down their coats so you don’t step in it. I know there are geese everywhere, but I would rather be hissed at by a goose then chased after by a criminal on my walking path. Honestly, I think misquitoes are everywhere and like geese you have no control over it so Get Over It!

      • TS

        Did you really just compare a goose to a criminal? That’s funny.

  • Sgt

    I think the geese & the deer are adapting, there living were there not going to be hunted,

    • K.

      Not only that, but people keep feeding them. These geese use to migrate but they don’t anymore because they have a year-round food souce. My husband calls them “sky carp.”

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