COURSE CARE
A Method To Give A Goose To Your Geese - Part 2 February 2, 2011 By Larry Gilhuly

Every now and then a unique idea is found while visiting golf courses.  During a USGA Turf Advisory Service visit to Waverley Country Club last year, a high-powered, hand-held laser for harassing Canada geese was discussed (March 24, 2010 regional update).  The results at this course and at many other courses were very positive.  It was an effective, quick-control method to annoy migratory geese under different conditions (dawn, dusk and cloudy days) from distances even greater than 300 yards.  The birds are not harmed, but they are easily spooked by the laser’s green light.  However, permanent or nesting birds, especially Canada geese, couldn’t care less about ‘seeing the light’ and simply do not react to harassment efforts, regardless of daylight.  Although other techniques are advised for these damaging and persistent birds, how is it that this effective method of bird intimidation has worked for crows and American widgeon? 

Canterwood Golf &Country Club has been home to large crow populations, and even larger migratory American widgeons, since the time it was built in the late 1980’s.  The golf course is routinely rated as one of the best in Washington; however, the condition of the fairways and roughs near the six golf course lakes have been devastated from November thru February by hundreds of migratory American widgeons.  Despite the best efforts of dogs, noisemakers and harassment methods by Scott Young, CGCS, and his staff, these difficult-to-remove birds remained a problem, especially after the maintenance staff had finished their day.  While the birds readily are spooked into any body of water by golfers, the birds simply return to prime eating areas and leave behind their undesired calling card.  That was until the introduction of a hand-held laser, along with one more tool that works every time in daylight situations – a radio-controlled boat.

Since early December, the combination of using the laser early in the mornings, the daily use of the laser, the use of boat as groups of birds arrive on sunny days, and the use of the laser in the early evening. These efforts have kept populations to no more than a dozen at this time.  The same type of instant reaction has been noted with the flocks of crows that react to the laser, regardless of the amount of daylight.  They are just a little more vocal in their displeasure!  There is no question that this fast and simple approach is another great tool in the continuing battle with these birds.

Contact:  Larry Gilhuly, lgihuly@usga.org or 253-858-2266

 

More from the USGA