‘Causing a hazard’: Please don’t feed the geese!

Feeding bread to geese can lead to harmful conditions such as angel wings, the City of Newmarket advises residents and visitors

Newmarket City Council would like to remind residents not to feed geese and ducks – and to heed the signs to advise.

Councilwoman Christina Bisanz suggested putting up more signs around local bodies of water at the Sept. 20 council meeting, saying although the city has posted some social media messages on it, it remains an issue in the community.

“A lot of people don’t see social media,” she said. “I still see people going to the ponds and families with their children and I think they are doing something good for the geese. But in fact, they pose a real threat to them.”

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Human food such as bread is known to be poor nutrition for geese, according to Environment Canada, since they feed exclusively on plants. The community recently warned on social media that such foods can be harmful to geese and lead to conditions such as angel wings, which can prevent geese from migrating south for the winter.

“Whether enjoying the last days of summer in a cottage or taking a stroll by Fairy Lake, remember to admire the wildlife from afar,” the city said on social media this month. “Don’t feed bread to geese or ducks – it can have long-term effects.”

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Mayor John Taylor said requests for more signs could be left to staff to report on later. But he added that years ago his family sponsored plaques around Fairy Lake warning against feeding geese, which people ignore.

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“You still often see people standing right by the signs feeding ducks and geese,” Taylor said. “Everything we can to spread this message is important. Honestly, it’s not in the geese’s best interest, and it’s really affecting how we use our trails. It’s a cost driver for our community to manage (geese).”

Management firm Geese Relief warns that feeding geese can also help populations grow as they are drawn to handouts. Relying on humans for sustenance can also cause them to put themselves in dangerous situations after losing their natural fear of humans.

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