Rockford Park District
Helping People Enjoy Life!

Goose Management

Goose Management

In order to expand the program, in February 2012, the Rockford Park District began looking for volunteers and dogs to be a part of the Goose Management Program. Dozens of dogs and volunteers are out all year long wearing specially made life vests helping to keep geese away from parks, recreational paths, and facilities. These volunteers and their friendly dogs herd geese mostly from March through November.


Program History

The Rockford Park District’s Goose Management Volunteer Program began in 2001 with a goal of bringing the community together to help control the population of Canada Geese. At that time, the Rockford Park District purchased two specially trained Border Collies, Jett and Flash to herd or move geese without harming them. Flash officially retired in October 2012, and we thank him for being a part of the program!

Why Dogs?

The Humane Society of the United States approves the use of Border Collies to relocate urban Canada Geese. Approval to use a dog to herd geese is also required by the Illinois Department of Natural Resources. Dogs and their handlers work year-round to herd or move geese.

What does “addling” Eggs mean?

During March–May, Rockford Park District staff are busy working on population stabilization. To do this, permits from the Department of Natural Resources are obtained for egg depredation, which allows permit holders to implement a process called "addling." The Rockford Park District has 53 sites where egg depredation takes place. First, goose nests are located and flagged in the community. Eggs are then "oiled" and returned back to the nest. The female goose returns to incubate the eggs, and when none hatch, the nest is abandoned. Egg depredation keeps geese from having a successful nesting season. This is one of the humane ways of controlling the Canada Geese population and is endorsed by the Humane Society of the United States.


In order to help with the health and wellness of our geese population, please resist feeding the geese. Feeding geese also encourages geese to remain in areas like recreational paths, sidewalks, parks, and facilities.

ROCKFORD CITY ORDINANCE: Nuisance feeding prohibited. The feeding of any wild mammal by any means, including hand feeding or the placing or setting out of food to be left attended or unattended, which creates a hazard to public health or safety is hereby declared to be a public nuisance and to be unlawful. Offenders could face a $750 fine. VIEW ORDINANCE >

Volunteers Needed

Our volunteer program is always in need of new faces. If interested, call 815.987.8847.

Canada Goose Facts

The Canada Goose was thought to be nearly extinct in the 1950s. The population in the U.S. was probably around 50,000 birds. A very successful re-population effort was launched at that time, and now an estimated 1.5 million birds live on the Mississippi flyway alone.

Natural Predators: In rural areas, predators may include fox, raccoon, owls, snapping turtles, and coyote.

Nesting habits: Canada geese begin to nest at approximately three years of age, laying their nests in areas they feel they can defend. In the Rock River Valley, this is often on ponds, lakes, and on islands in rivers. The average number of eggs in a nest is five. The nesting season runs from approximately March to May.

Molting: Fly feathers are lost during a "molting" period, typically in June. During this period, Canada geese are unable to fly.