Canada Goose Control | Missouri Department of Conservation

Canada Goose Control


Photo of Canada geese crowding on grassy area

Learn more about Canada Geese

The Canada goose (Branta canadensis) is common throughout Missouri, including in urban and suburban areas. Most Canada geese migrate to and from Missouri annually, but some are year-round residents. Nesting Canada geese can be aggressive, and when concentrated in large numbers, their feeding habits and droppings can result in nuisance and damage.

The following recommendations will help municipal authorities address, prevent, and resolve goose problems in urban areas. Most of these strategies are also suitable for use by individual private landowners.


The Wildlife Code of Missouri classifies the Canada goose as a game bird that may be taken during the prescribed hunting season. See current regulations for details. Because Canada geese are migratory birds, they are subject to federal as well as state regulations. Consequently, you must obtain special permission from the Department before taking any lethal control action. Contact your local county conservation agent or nearest Department office. Special permission is not needed for non-lethal methods that do not physically harm the birds, their nests, or eggs.

To effectively control goose nuisance and damage, seek the guidance of a Department wildlife biologist to employ as many strategies as possible:

  • Habitat modification
  • Exclusion
  • Harassment
  • Chemical sprays
  • Lethal control

Habitat Modification

Habitat modification involves physically altering property to make it less attractive to geese. Modifications should focus on reducing or eliminating food sources and nesting sites, as well as access between these resources and your pond or lake.

Don't feed the geese

If geese are a nuisance in your community, the first step is to adopt and enforce a no-feeding ordinance. All artificial feeding should be stopped immediately. Post “Do Not Feed Waterfowl” signs in public areas. People who feed geese must be educated about the harm they are doing. Feeding concentrates geese and makes them more aggressive toward people because food is expected. They are also more susceptible to diseases such as avian botulism and avian cholera. Finally, most handouts are nutritionally inadequate and some actually cause harm.

Remove domestic waterfowl

Domestic waterfowl, including mute swans, act as decoys for Canada geese flying over an area. The presence of swans does not discourage geese.

Create barriers along ponds and lakes

Canada geese prefer gentle, grassy slopes that allow them to easily walk into and out of the water to feed or rest. If access to the water is difficult, adult geese may leave the area to raise their young elsewhere.

Steepen the shoreline by building a vertical seawall three feet above the surface of the water, or create a 63-degree angle from the water's edge. This is most easily accomplished during construction but existing ponds and lakes can also be modified. Allowing vegetation to grow tall along this slope will help protect it from erosion and keep the geese from walking up. Rip-rap, while ineffective on gentle slopes, is often effective on steeper ones.

Allow water to freeze

The aeration of ponds is one reason why Canada geese have become year-round residents. Allowing a pond to freeze forces geese to seek other water sources and may even encourage them to migrate. A concentration of geese will maintain open water even in below-freezing temperatures. Harass geese to make them leave long enough for ice to form.

Manage grass and plants

Canada geese prefer to eat grass, especially young succulent shoots abundant in mowed, fertilized lawns. The following techniques can help reduce this goose smorgasbord in your community.

Eliminate mowing: Geese prefer short, succulent grass. Taller grass is less palatable and can hide potential predators. Eliminate mowing at least 20 feet from pond shorelines—or even larger tracks—to encourage geese to look for safer spots with better food sources.

Plant prairie grasses: Tall, lush native prairie grass stands along shorelines provide the same benefits as eliminating mowing because geese cannot see over the grass while walking through it. Also, prairie grasses are less palatable than turf grass. Widen the stand to increase its effectiveness.

Plant less palatable plants and grasses: Listed below are plants and grasses that geese generally do and do not prefer to eat. Replacing preferred with less preferred varieties will make your property less inviting to geese.

Grasses Canada geese prefer:
  • Kentucky bluegrass
  • Brome grass
  • Canary grass
  • Colonial bentgrass
  • Perennial ryegrass
  • Quackgrass
  • Red fescue
Grasses and plants Canada geese do not prefer: 
  • Big bluestem grass
  • Little bluestem grass
  • Indian grass
  • Switch grass
  • Mature tall fescue
  • Myrtle
  • Pachysandra
  • Hosta or plantain lily
  • Ground juniper


Exclusion methods prevent Canada geese from entering a specific area. Some methods are inexpensive and simple, while others are more complex and costly. Exclusion can be very effective, especially when used in conjunction with other management tools.

Overhead grid systems

A grid system above the water’s surface is a very effective exclusion method. Grids work on a simple principle: Canada geese are large and require a long glide-slope to land, and a grid system denies them that.

Grids work best on bodies of water less than 150 feet across, but can be used on bodies up to 300 feet across. Use nearly any type of cordage to construct the grid, from cotton kite string to plastic-coated Kevlar cord. Anchor points for the grid lines can be trees, wooden stakes, or metal fence posts.

Grid specifications can be variable, but grid lines spaced 20 feet apart and suspended at least 3 feet above the water should exclude geese while still allowing access by ducks, gulls, and other smaller birds.

The grid can be adjusted if water levels change or if geese penetrate the system by landing on the shore and walking under the grid into the water. One solution would be a barrier along the water’s edge. For example, attach two strands of cord, 6-inches and 12-inches above the ground and running the length of the shore, to the anchor points. For a more permanent solution, plant a hedgerow or install a fence.


Because geese can fly, fencing alone may not exclude them from an area. But fencing can barricade geese from areas of pedestrian traffic, such as sidewalks, during the nesting season. Fencing is also effective during the flightless period. For best results, the fence should present a visual as well as physical barrier that prevents geese from seeing passers-by. This allows for egg incubation while keeping people safe from potentially-aggressive birds.

Fencing along the shoreline of a pond or lake will prevent geese from walking from water onto shore. Even though geese can fly over them, these short fences often work well when combined with harassment. Consider conventional woven wire, snow, chain-link, and picket fences, single or dual strands of cord or wire, or chicken wire.

One fence proven popular and effective, especially for private yards, is a triple-strand electric fence. The wire should be strung 5, 10, and 15 inches above the ground. The amperage required to exclude Canada geese is minimal and will not harm them. NOTE: Prevent accidental shocks to pedestrians by marking electric fences with appropriate signage.

Mylar tape

Often used in conjunction with other exclusion methods, mylar tape helps create a visual barrier. The tape is one-half inch wide, red on one side and silver on the other. To use as a fence, string one or two strands between two posts, twisting the tape two or three times as you put it up. The tape flashes in the breeze and makes the geese nervous, encouraging them to go elsewhere. The unfamiliar flash is startling to geese and makes them shy away from the area.


Canada geese prefer areas with minimum disturbance. If someone or something bothers them enough, they typically move to another area. However, they can become accustomed to some techniques if they learn they won’t be harmed.

Harassment techniques are most effective in January through March before breeding and nesting has begun. Persistence is important. Canada geese either raised in or accustomed to feeding in an area will be more difficult to move. Harassment is completely ineffective from mid-June to early July when geese molt their primary flight feathers and are unable to fly.


Chasing geese on foot or in a golf cart is labor intensive but can be successful when done with persistence and in conjunction with other harassment methods. The goal is to chase geese long enough to cause them to go elsewhere.


Using dogs to harass geese is popular and successful. Some businesses use highly-trained border collies, but any athletic, medium-to-large dog capable of obeying commands can be used. Control of the dog is vital because it is considered an extension of your hand and therefore cannot be allowed to catch, injure, or kill a Canada goose. NOTE: Dogs are not a viable option during the early summer flightless period because of the risk of physical contact.

Typically, the handler and dog enter the area where unwanted geese are present and, on command, the dog is allowed to chase the geese. The geese will likely seek refuge in nearby water, and the dog can be allowed to enter the water to swim after them. Effectiveness can be increased by using a boat or pyrotechnics to further harass the geese. Harassment should be repeated and continue until the geese leave the area permanently.


Class-III B moderate-power lasers (between 5 and 500mW with red or green beam) effectively disperse birds, including Canada geese. Although they should never be pointed directly at people, roadways, or aircraft, they are a safe and effective alternative to pyrotechnics, shotguns, and other harassment tools. They are most effective in low light conditions, but new technology is increasing daytime effectiveness.

When using lasers, treat them as you would a long-range firearm; that is, be mindful of what is beyond the target, the beam’s range (which is similar to that of a bullet), and its reflection (similar to a ricochet). Always consult the owner's manual before use.

Remember: Treat lasers like a long-range firearm by considering the background; range of the beam, which is like the projectile; and the reflection, which is like a ricochet. Always consult the owner’s manual for safety information before using.


Pyrotechnics used to frighten wildlife are designated as Class C fireworks and include:

  • Screamers and bangers — large bottle rocket-type devices fired from a 15-mm starter's pistol that whistle loudly and/or explode. These may be used without a permit.
  • Shellcrackers — firecrackers fired from a 12-gauge shotgun. A permit is required to use these and other Explosive Pest Control Devices. All have specific storage requirements (check with your local Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives office for specific details and visit their website for more information.

The distance a particular device will travel varies from 50 to several hundred yards, depending on type. Check with the manufacturer to ensure that a particular device will fit your needs.

Persons using pyrotechnics should be properly trained and always wear eye and ear protection. Exercise caution when using in populated areas. NOTE: Check with local authorities regarding possible restrictions before purchase, and always notify local law enforcement before use.

Other techniques

When used in conjunction with other measures, the following can help encourage geese to move elsewhere. Persistence is the key. As long as the geese are not physically harmed, these techniques are legal.

  • Air horns
  • High pressure water sprayers

Chemical Repellents

Requests for a chemical spray to repel geese are common, but relatively few over-the-counter products are available because of strict registration requirements. To be registered, a product must achieve the manufacturer’s claims with little or no adverse environmental impacts. Use of these products does not guarantee success and they should be employed as part of an integrated management plan. Products currently registered include:

Methyl anthranilate

Three products use methyl anthranilate (artificial grape flavoring): ReJeX-It MigrateTM, GooseChaseTM, and Goose-B-GoneTM. These products modify the birds' behavior through taste aversion. That is, grass treated with methyl anthranilate is unpalatable to geese. The birds may still frequent the treated area, but will no longer feed there. If allowed to dry first, methyl anthranilate will not wash off after a rain, but it must be reapplied after mowing.


Flight Control TM is a product that contains anthraquinone and repels geese in two ways. First, application enhances the ultraviolet spectrum, making grass appear visually strange and unnatural (to geese, not to people). Second, eating treated grass causes an unpleasant but harmless gut reaction that, when combined with the visual effect, encourages geese to go elsewhere to feed and loaf. It will not wash after a rain but must be reapplied after mowing. A growth regulator can be used to slow grass growth. Anthraquinone is environmentally safe and produces no long-term physical effects.

Lethal Control

One pair of Canada geese can become more than 50 birds in as little as five years. Lethal control can reduce the number of geese produced in an area. At present, three methods of lethal control are allowed, and all require a permit of some kind. Please note that some methods may not be allowed in your area.


Where feasible, hunting is an important tool for goose management. Hunting reduces the number of birds in an area and also has a repellent effect on geese hunted but not taken. Further, it reinforces the effectiveness of pyrotechnics. In Missouri, the timing of the early goose hunting season allows for the taking of local (resident) Canada geese before migrants arrive. All hunters must be properly licensed. See current regulations for details. Check with local authorities regarding the use of firearms in your area.

Nest and egg destruction

Egg addling or oiling prevents the embryo from developing, thereby slowing the growth of local goose populations. And because no young are produced, the protective aggression of adult geese is eliminated. 

Because geese are federally protected, registration is required for egg and nest destruction activities. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service offers online registration for egg and nest destruction at if the reasons are justified.

Capture and euthanasia

With authority from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, the Department issues permits for the removal of localized Canada goose populations from sites where other control measures have been ineffective. Geese are captured during their flightless period (mid-June to early July), shipped to a commercial meat processor for slaughter and packaging, and the meat donated to food pantries for distribution to the needy. This method of last resort is allowed only when other methods have been unsuccessful. The party requesting the removal (for example, golf course, subdivision, municipality, etc.) is responsible for all removal and processing costs. Contact the nearest Department office to request consideration of this option for your situation.

Methods Not Recommended

Although frequently asked about, the following methods are not considered effective methods of deterrent.

Plastic scare devices

Plastic swans, alligators, owls, and snakes are ineffective for repelling Canada geese. Limited success has been reported with floating dead goose decoys, but effectiveness is usually short-lived.


Some communities have tried using swans to deter geese in hopes that these aggressive birds will vigorously defend their territory, especially during the breeding season, and drive other waterfowl from the area.

Native swans are difficult to acquire, so non-native mute swans are commonly used instead. Mute swans are much more tolerant of other waterfowl and may only defend their immediate nesting area. Further, their presence can attract geese to a pond or lake, and it is not uncommon to find mute swans and Canada geese peacefully sharing a site. Also, swans are sometimes more aggressive towards people than geese. The reality is that mute swans usually only add to the problem.

Capture and relocation

Capture and relocation of adult Canada geese is not viable because geese imprint on the area where they learn to fly and, if relocated, simply return. However, relocation is somewhat effective for young, flightless juveniles that learn to fly at the release area, rather than the capture area. Regardless, Canada geese already occupy virtually all suitable habitat, so opportunities to relocate juveniles are limited.


There are no toxicants registered with the Environmental Protection Agency for the control of Canada geese in the United States. Therefore, none are recommended.

For additional information on this and other species, visit the Internet Center for Wildlife Damage Management.

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wikiHow to Care for a Goose

Geese, like ducks, are relatively easy to care for. Seeing them swimming on your pond and coming up to you to be fed is truly rewarding and relaxing. This article will discuss how to care for geese, how to enjoy them, and how to give them a healthy, happy life.


  1. Image titled Care for a Goose Step 1
    Evaluate your desires for raising geese. Just like dogs, horses, and nearly every other animal, different geese are good for different people. You may desire geese for pets, guard animals, meat, and more. It is important to get the correct breed of goose for your life and meet their needs. Do not be afraid to ask questions, as questions produce answers.
  2. Image titled Care for a Goose Step 2
    Read about the care of geese and other poultry. You will find the article How to Care for a Pet Duck very helpful, as much of the information is true for both ducks and geese. Storey's publishing also has good books on the care of chickens, ducks, etc. (See Recommended Reading.)
  3. Image titled Care for a Goose Step 3
    Select a breed. Some geese are considered aggressive, some good guard animals (they can really make a racket!), and others make great pets. It all depends on the breed and how you raise them. Ask friends who have the birds, farmers, vets, whoever you can find. Get their advice on what goose breed is right for you.
  4. Image titled Care for a Goose Step 4
    Acquire the geese. You should get at least a pair and more if you so choose. For calmer breeds, it is fine to acquire them as adults or as goslings. If you have chosen a more aggressive breed, it may be best to acquire them as goslings. It's best for a goose to always have a mate. If it does not, you should acquire more geese or even several ducks so your bird will not get lonely and distressed. If you choose to buy the geese, check out the breeder. The cages should be clean, the water fresh, and the smell shouldn't be too overpowering. The animals should look relatively clean, healthy, and alert. Stick your hands in the pen. If they react, whether running away or coming closer out of curiosity, this is usually a sign that they are healthy. It is not, however, hard at all to find free geese (and ducks). Just ask your friends if anything comes up. Often people have animals they can't care for anymore.
  5. Image titled Care for a Goose Step 5
    Bring them home. They should be brought home in a relatively large dog carrier that they cannot break free from. You will most likely need to hose the carrier off when you get home. The geese will be very upset from their capture and ride.
  6. Image titled Care for a Goose Step 6
    Clip their wings. You will save a lot of time and energy if you do this before releasing them. This is a 2-3 person job. Gently hold the neck (don't let it peck your face) and firmly (without squeezing) hold its body close to you. Male geese are very strong, so be prepared. Have one person gently take the wing and unfold it, cutting the shorter feathers at the base of the wing. Do not over cut and be extremely careful, because the animals will be struggling while you do this. You do not want to make them bleed; if you do, they may die.
  7. Image titled Care for a Goose Step 7
    Release the geese. It is best if you have a pond. Birds are safer in the water than in the middle of a pasture. Usher them to the pond in the morning. You can use a rake to guide them, but do not hurt them. This should be a pleasant experience. If you are able, usher them back to their pen/shed/barn before it gets dark. The next day, you should be able to simply let them out and leave them to find the pond on their own. You shouldn't have to bring them back to their pen again.
  8. Image titled Care for a Goose Step 8
    Buy quality poultry food. Geese will spend much time eating around their pond, as well as grazing on pasture grass. At the same time, just like humans, they need a balanced diet that satisfies their need for vitamins and minerals. Their food should be specifically designed for poultry (geese, ducks, etc.) and should come from your local clean feed store or Tractor Supply. You can add oats and grains to your goose's diet in the winter. If it is a gosling, feed gosling or duck mash to it.
  9. Image titled Care for a Goose Step 9
    Develop a feeding schedule. It may take a week or even two, but if you fed your geese while they were in the pen, they should learn that when they come back to the pen, they get food. Whenever you see the geese walking back to their pen, encourage them closer and feed them. Don't scare them off; try to watch at a good distance. After about a week of them coming to the pen to be fed, change their schedule. Now you should only feed them once a day, when it isn't dark outside. If they come up to the pen at random hours, resist the urge to feed them and only feed them at the time you determined. Stick to that schedule like a rule of life and they will learn quickly. It helps if there are other geese or ducks that come to the pen to be fed at the same time. Make sure there is enough food for them. If they are hanging around after they've finished, or if they are very thin and sickly, it likely means they are still hungry, so try feeding slightly larger rations until you are satisfied. If they look fat or are not eating all the food you set out, slightly reduce the rations until you are satisfied.
  10. Image titled Care for a Goose Step 10
    Supply fresh water at all times. This is often overlooked, considering the animals have a pond. However, this water can be quite dirty and should not be the birds' only source of fresh water. It's best if there can be running water, such as a stream, but this is often not possible. Instead, you should set out containers of clean water near their food. These should be refilled daily, regardless of how much water is left. Failing to dump them out can result in disgusting water, unhealthy living conditions, foul odors, and mosquito larvae. When the geese are young, they should be offered water in shallow troughs, as they cannot get wet until their mature feathers come in. If they do get wet, towel dry them and keep them warm. Failing to do so will result in chilling and even death in extreme cases.
  11. Image titled Care for a Goose Step 11
    Supply adequate shelter. Ducks and geese alike require shelter from storms, wind, and direct sunlight. They receive some shelter from the sun by sitting under large trees. However, it is recommended that you supply a small 3-sided shed, open hutch/pen, large awning over your barn, or even tarp stretched between two trees. They must have an area that is dry and free of drafts. Clean straw or bedding should be placed on the ground during cold weather or storms. The RSPCA recommends at least 1 square meter of ground area per goose. They should be able to come and go freely and be able to move around comfortably.
  12. Image titled Care for a Goose Step 12
    Protect your geese from predators. This is perhaps the most difficult step, because most of this is out of your hands. Some things are just out of your control. However, there are ways you can protect your geese and other poultry from predators. If you have the time, consider locking your geese in the adequate shelter described in Step 11 at night and letting them out during the day. Be aware that the shelter will be a mess and you will have to do a bit of cleaning. Simply scrape up droppings with a shovel and toss them outside, away from the shelter. Supply clean hay, bedding, or straw, dump waters outside and refill them. Clean food containers if necessary. Predators include bobcats, coyotes, dogs, and more. It is strongly advised that you do not shoot the predators, as you could accidentally shoot a goose, a neighbor's pet, or a harmless animal.

Community Q&A

Add New Question
  • Our bigger goose has become really aggressive, chasing and biting. What might be the reason for this?
    wikiHow Contributor
    At the start of mating season (and during mating season) geese are very protective of their eggs. You have two choices: you can either walk away from the goose the moment it starts showing aggression, or you can make very strong eye contact (do NOT let up for even a second), stay calm and walk away (perpendicular movements if you can). If you are confident enough, you can also grab the goose and hold him/her under your arm (don't hurt it) until it calms down.
    Not Helpful 3 Helpful 17
  • How old does the goose have to be to let go in the wild?
    wikiHow Contributor
    Never leave your pet goose in the wild. It is used to domesticity and is now dependent on your care. As such, there is never an appropriate time to release a domesticated goose into the wild.
    Not Helpful 5 Helpful 22
  • What can I do if my goose stops moving and becomes very cold?
    wikiHow Contributor
    If it's a young goose with its feathers not developed, try a heat lamp. If that doesn't work, then your bird might be sick or depressed. Spend time with the young ones, if they are orphans. They get lonely and won't eat.
    Not Helpful 2 Helpful 12
  • Are foxes a risk to domestic geese?
    wikiHow Contributor
    If the geese are not properly locked up/secure at night, yes, they can be.
    Not Helpful 5 Helpful 13
  • How can I care for my sick baby goose, who is only 6-days-old?
    Kevin Horlor
    At 6-days-old, the gosling requires heat, so use of a heat lamp is ideal. It also needs good clean water and a high quality starter feed for ducks and geese. Some pet stores or agricultural stores will stock liquids that can be added to their water for a vitamin boost or to treat certain illnesses such as coccidiosis, which may be worth thinking about. We have chickens, ducks, geese, turkeys and peacocks and we always ensure we have some vitamin boosters around just in case.
    Not Helpful 2 Helpful 5
  • Do geese enjoy being pet/groomed? If so, where is the right place to pet the animal?
    Kevin Horlor
    Some geese do enjoy being petted. Usually they prefer to just have their necks or backs stroked. I have one gosling in particular that loves a rub down the back of the neck while it sits in my hand.
    Not Helpful 4 Helpful 6
  • If my geese won't use the dog kennel I put in their cage, should I shut them in it?
    Kevin Horlor
    Don't shut them in it, it may distress them, especially if they can smell dog in it (predator smell). Try putting food in it and coaxing them in there, it may take a little while, but eventually they can be "trained" to use the kennel.
    Not Helpful 3 Helpful 4
  • Is a goose a messy animal to raise?
    Geese love nothing better than grooming themselves, especially if they have access to water. But due to their diet, they may poo quite a lot. Some people put nappies on their indoor geese, but they will need to be changed once every 3-4 hours.
    Not Helpful 4 Helpful 4
  • What could it be if my goose seems dizzy?
    wikiHow Contributor
    Consult a vet for advice.
    Not Helpful 5 Helpful 2
  • How/ and when do geese mate and start laying eggs?
    wikiHow Contributor
    About nine to 24 months of age is when they mate. They usually produce eggs a few week after the breeding.
    Not Helpful 0 Helpful 0
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Unanswered Questions
  • What happens if you put a duck and a goose in the same cage?
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  • My goose has a swollen foot and does not want to put weight on it. What do I do
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  • Can I sleep with my 2 newborn geese at night? I already have diapers for them and they seem used to it. They seem frightened and would always call when I wasn't there for a long time. What should I do?
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  • I recently acquired 2 adult geese. They were in my corral with 2 swimming pools and came into the closed barn every night unil they found their way to the river behind my corral. Now I can't get them back to the corral? What can I do?
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    • In time, your geese will go from scared to comfortable having you near them.
    • You don't need to clip their wings if they are babies or if they were raised on your land. You should only have to clip their wings that one time when you first acquired them. After that, if you abide by this article, they should know that this is home and that pen equals food.
    • They can live without a pond, but they will be in heaven if they have one. If you don't want to dig a pond, using a plastic kiddie pool is fine.


    • Do not chase your geese or they won't trust you. This will also make them scared to come to the barn for feeding time and they could starve to death.
    • Remember that geese, ducks, chickens, and other birds are prey. You will likely experience quite a few deaths. Try to make the time they have on earth as heavenly as possible for them. Besides following this article, there is not much else you can do to protect them.

    Recommended Reading

    • "Storey's Illustrated Guide to Poultry Breeds by Carol Ekarius". This book contains color photography, a brief history, and a detailed description of more than 120 breeds of barnyard fowl, including geese and ducks.
    • "The Book of Geese: A Complete Guide to Raising the Home Flock" by Dave Holderread. Often referred to as the "goose bible", it is used for both beginners and experts.
    • "Starting with Geese" by Katie Thear. A new book on goose care on a small or commercial scale.

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    Article Info

    Categories: Poultry

    In other languages:

    Español: cuidar a un ganso, Italiano: Prendersi Cura di un'Oca, Русский: ухаживать за гусем, Português: Cuidar de Gansos, Français: prendre soin d'une oie, Deutsch: Eine Gans versorgen

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    Facts about Geese

    Interesting Facts about Geese